‘Art of Insomnia’ Revised for Reprint (Part 2)

Bookmarks with Revisals

As a follow-on from the Part 1 Blog, Art of Insomnia Revised for Reprint (Part 1) here are the details of the five revisals made in the reprint of Art of Insomnia, each explanation accompanied by a photograph showing the revised version of the poem as it now appears in the chapbook.

Revisal 1: ‘HELENIUM ONE AND ONLY (Helenium sui generis)’ is the third poem in Section 1 (BEAUTIFUL/TERRIBLE) of the chapbook. It is a tiny poem, written in response to a prompt to compose a poem of no more than 10 lines, describing a person/event as if describing a flower/plant in a seed catalogue. As you’ll observe from the photograph just one word was changed, replacing the word ‘warned’ with the word ‘aware’. The sole reason for this was to avoid unnecessary and pointless repetition, the word ‘warning’ having appeared in the immediately preceding line. Had I not had a much better reason for revisal [Revisal 5], I’d probably have left the poem as it was. This is the poem.

Like Revisal 1, the reason for the minor amendment in Revisal 2, to ‘NEARLY NOT GOING OUT SYNDROME’ is partly to correct unnecessary word repetition in successive lines. In the original version the word ‘effort’ appeared in lines 11 and 12 and worked fine but, as there was going to be a necessary revisal elsewhere [Revisal 5], I took the chance to replace ‘effort’ with ‘battle’ in line 12 because I think ‘battle’ better expresses what is going on in the mind, as well as avoiding repetition. This is the new version of the poem from Section 2 (FRENCH RETREAT) of the chapbook ‘Art of Insomnia’.

As with the previous poem in Revisal 2, Revisal 3, of poem PILGRIMAGE, is from Section 2 of the book (FRENCH RETREAT) and relates ultimately to a promise I made to myself. Unlike the two previous revisals, this one is not about removing an unnecessary repetition; it is about a decision to remove a phrase and, in replacing it, name the destructive demon ‘overthinking’.

Like Revisals 2 and 3, REVISAL 4 also relates to Section 2 of the chapbook (FRENCH RETREAT). Once again the original reason for the revision was the wish to avoid inappropriate repetition. I do very much approve of good repetition. However in this poem, ‘FOUND IN FRANCE’, I noticed that in the list of things my late wife would have found off-putting about the French place to which I had retreated I had unwittingly mentioned bees twice. I decided that I’d remove the first mention of them and emphasise the inescapability of the dogs by inserting the word ‘doorway’. Helen liked, but was afraid of, dogs and in the French getaway there were three dogs, usually present at one doorway or another! Just one revisal to go now. In the meantime here’s the revised version of ‘FOUND IN FRANCE’ as it appears in the reprint (over two pages).

Finally, there’s REVISAL 5, the one absolutely necessary revisal that led to the opportunity to make the other four less necessary ones which, though less necessary, do – I hope – clarify and improve what they replace. Anyway, Revisal 5 is the really embarrassing one. Originally, I loved the sound of the word ‘enervate’ as it originally appeared in line 25. I loved reading  ‘energy to enervate’ and I thought I knew the meaning. However, some time after publication of the chapbook I saw a tweet in which someone referred to former Makar Jackie Kay describing in another poem a mistaken use of the word ‘enervate’. I checked and was distressed to find that the word meant pretty much the opposite of what I thought! Using ‘energise’ would not have worked with energy in the same line, and I did not like any of the synonyms I could find. So, I thought about a word that meant the opposite of being brought down and ‘elevate’ was ideal to convey that meaning. It also sounded similar to the word it was replacing, and that pleased me because I felt I was retaining as much of the sound of the original as possible while correcting the meaning and purpose of the line. This final revisal is of the poem ‘AFTER THE ENDING’ which appears over two pages in the chapbook’s Section 3 (RETURN TO WHAT REMAINS).

To purchase ‘Art of Insomnia’, this is the page with all the details Art of Insomnia

Art of Insomnia Revised for Reprint (Part 1)

Bookmarks with details of Revisals

As some of you know, at the end of May 2021 my debut poetry chapbook Art of Insomnia was published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press, a matter of great importance to me, especially as it was dedicated to and largely inspired by my beloved wife Helen, whose unexpected death broke my heart exactly one week before Easter 2019.

I was grateful that the book resonated with so many readers and, as it proved more popular than I had expected, the matter of printing additional copies had to be considered.

Inside Front and Back Covers of ‘Art of Insomnia’

By this time I was working on further chapbook ideas and preparing for a larger collection but decided, before going ahead with a further print run, to look at the poems afresh to ensure I was entirely happy with them.

Thankfully, I found that most of them conveyed their messages exactly as I wanted those messages to go out and I was content to leave those. However, I was disappointed to discover from a tweet I saw by chance on Twitter that one of the twenty two poems contained a word often used to mean the opposite of its actual meaning, and that’s an error I had made. 

No one had brought this error to my attention, and I may have got away with it, but knowing that a reprint was in the offing made me look critically at the whole manuscript. As a result, I found four other minor matters which, if changed, might improve the work. Thankfully, my publisher agreed to all five changes which have been incorporated in the reprint currently available for purchase. This is the link for purchase – Art of Insomnia

I do have mixed feelings about all this.

On the one hand I am delighted that the copies now available at Scottish Poetry Library, and at a number of libraries local to me, contain these revisals. Similarly, this will be true for copies now being placed with independent book shops and those I take with me to poetry gigs in 2022 and beyond.

However, there’s a fair number of folk who have the original version, without the small changes to five poems, so I do feel it necessary to publicise the changes as widely as I can.  

Coming up in Part 2 of this blog – ‘Art of Insomnia’ Revised for Reprint (Part 2) – you’ll find details of the five changes and the reasons for them, so I hope that lots of those who have purchased the original chapbook will find this helpful.

Further, all members of The Hedgehog Poetry Press’s ‘Cult of the Spiny Hog’ will be able to download an updated digital copy of the book free of charge.

I have also alerted followers on Facebook and Twitter to the changes, and will now link them to this blog (parts 1 and 2)

Finally, I am about to send out to those purchasers for whom I hold addresses a bookmark which contains details of the changes on its reverse.

By this means I hope to get the information out to anyone who may be interested.

If you already have a revised reprint, this blog and -link- will probably be of less significance, unless you have an academic interest in the rarity of a post-publication editing process.

To find out details of the changes, and view the five poems in their changed form, go to – ‘Art of Insomnia’ Revised for Reprint (Part 2)

If you haven’t purchased Art of Insomnia but this blog or its Part 2 –‘Art of Insomnia’ Revised for Reprint (Part 2) – has sparked your interest, this is the purchase link you require – Art of Insomnia

Advent Blog Day 3: Mark III

And so my disordered and disorderly daily January (including belated Advent Blog) posts continue with what should have been but is not the one I originally drafted for Third December (Advent Day Three). For the same reason that I considered it necessary yesterday to replace the intended Day Two post with Advent Blog Day 2: Caring (something written some time ago) so today I have replaced the intended Day Three post with the following entirely new offering:- 

Mark III

I recently gave a summary of the ups and downs of writing in 2020 and offered thanks to a number of people Advent Blog Day 19: First Annual Thanks (2020) for their practical support of my writing in various ways during 2020. 

Appropriately there was thanks offered therein to The Hedgehog Poetry Press, which happens to be the enterprise of a certain Mark Davidson. Publication of my first Chapbook collection this year will be a significant moment in my development and I shall have Mark to thank for that (Mark I). 

I have also thanked the hard-working and multi-talented Mark McGhee, man of many guises and instigator of many projects including You Call That Radio (which I recommend you catch on YouTube, including past episodes). I am grateful for the exposure I received on this show twice in the last week of December (Mark II).

Now it is my pleasure to thank and introduce you to a third Mark, who assisted me in a couple of very important ways in 2020. Mark Mutch O’Hare is Mark III on my journey to raising profile and hopefully helping my work reach a reasonable number of readers.

Mark is a photographer and I have engaged his skill and artistry to produce headshots and ideas for cover art. If you look elsewhere on this site, particularly the Home and About pages you will see examples of his work duly credited to him. But those pages show just three out of many images he produced for me to choose from and, without boring you with the full details of the processes, I have come to recognise that there is a great deal more to his work than pointing a camera or applying a filter. 

The thought of headshots concerned me and with some justification. I generally feel very uncomfortable being photographed, even in a group. I have produced some odd facial expressions in many photos and don’t like looking directly at the camera.

Mark worked his magic, starting with setting up the shoot at a time when he knew the outdoors light would be just right. He managed to make me feel relatively relaxed and got the shots he wanted fairly quickly. He agreed to come back again the following week to repeat the process following my post-Lockdown 1 haircut, for a bit of contrast. The whole process was surprisingly painless and the results exceeded my expectations.

Similarly, Mark turned around the cover artwork very quickly but provided me with a large number of options and versions. I don’t want to say too much about the old photograph from which he was working. That’s something I may say more about if one of these ideas is approved by the publisher. Similarly, I am only going to feature here the raw image sent to the publisher, as it is the most abstract representation and the one I think best fits the title and nature of the work.

Cover art developed by Mark Mutch O’Hare

Advent Blog Day 20: Please Support Talent and Hard Work

Whoever would consider beginning advent blogs on Day 20? – Yes, me!

Okay, there’s many reasons for this, one of those being the prediction I made several weeks ago in my blog Dance Jealousy, that someone in Strictly called Jamie, previously unknown to me, would not last long in the contest. Week after week I was proved wrong. He made it to the Final!

I had to know the outcome of that Final – and see how embarrassed I could possibly be – before composing this post.

The Final took place yesterday with four celebrities remaining. Frankly I was a little conflicted. For me the winner should have been Maisie or HRVY, though my third choice Bill Bailey (the eventual winner) was partnered by my favourite professional, Oti Mabuse.

Jamie (Laing) made it to the final but, in my humble opinion, was easily outshone by the other three finalists, so not too embarrassing for me. Okay, that’s the last about dancing for a while!

There have been lots of other things happening in my little world during the last few weeks when I have not been posting. Some of these are very personal and will not be disclosed, but others will appear in Advent posts 1 to 19 which will pop up in rapid random fashion between now and Christmas alongside the posts appropriate to days 21 to 25 of December.

At this late stage it will be a demanding task to do all of this in such a short period of time but I have been inspired by recent examples of others working so much harder than I do, to put together things quickly and efficiently when a job has to be done. There are many instances but the following are three December examples that spring immediately to mind. 

Mark McGhee (Mark Mywords) ‘buildin’ a hing’ with You Call That Radio and putting together a live Covid-safe ‘Christmas at Captureworks Show‘ brimming with entertainment from 3pm till late on 19 December. He did this while continuing to fill almost every other night with YCTR live broadcasts on YouTube featuring a broad range of guests and a wide array of subject matter. Find him on Facebook, subscribe to the YCTR YouTube channel and if you’re impressed, consider donating on PayPal or becoming a patreon.

Jack Caradoc of Dreich (https://hybriddreich.co.uk) publishing , calling out for and selecting submissions for four themed Chapbook anthologies of poetry with super efficiency during a period of only two weeks, simultaneously getting on with other publications.

Damien B. Donnelly putting together his Christmas ‘Eat The Storms‘ podcast with a very large number of contributing poets, and some musicians, whose pre-recorded contributions were blended and edited skilfully along with Damien’s words into a very satisfying final product. 

So, shame on me if I fail to put in the hard work to put together another 24 blogposts in the next four days or so!

Final words on this little post are very straightforward. Forget anything I have said about Strictly. The BBC are well able to look after themselves. Instead I strongly recommend that you support the three parties I have highlighted above for their current contributions to cultural life and entertainment in the year 2020. 

And wish me luck with putting together another 24 posts in four or five days!