April 1997 saw the release of my first book A Lyrical Oasis. Self published and with little promo, it sank without trace. Nonetheless, it will always be my first baby even if it was still born and remains pretty much a ghost in terms of release and sales.
In 2009 I tried again with an e-book but this met a similar fate. I dare say that in some other world it may have been the pop poem hit I envisaged it to be in my naivety but alas I never met the right people and certainly not the right publisher.
Lyrical as it’s colloquially known is a collection specifically written as a poetry book, meaning the work is a near sequential flow – like a concept album – owing much to the art and music that then inspired me (David Bomberg, Cocteau Twins, Peter Kingsbery among others).
Writing commenced in a tiny bedsit – very much the starving artists garret – in Newport (South Wales) during autumn 1993 and finished in either spring or summer 1996 (coinciding exactly with my arts degree at University of Wales). There was to be no rush and it was always called A Lyrical Oasis – I have no idea where the title came from but it has no connection to the Brit-rock band in vogue at the time.
The two part Cycles came fairly late on, though the title poem which concludes the running order dates from May 1994. Finally, the book was housed in artwork by Japanese artist Shinro Ohtake as I always had a thing for Japan (the country and the band). Of the latter it was in fact a Steve Jansen poem which inspired my own Drive which later became Immerse, seen on the left above – some of you can probably tell). Though I settled on the title and artwork early on, alternatives were considered.
Does it hold up today? Sometimes I read it and feel proud, other times I’m appalled by its naivety; I think it’s maybe a good example of engineering than poetry. How to write and construct a book, Lyrical is a problem solved.
From the press release…
Lyrical features pieces like Napier 1982, Still Dance and Like Vorticists and carries many themes: love, politics, seasons and travel. This (reissue) serves to the curious a bookmark of where Hayes was at the time and will hopefully evoke some beautiful imagery with it.
I meant there to be a 20th anniversary edition with revised artwork (as I don’t have permission to use the Shinro Ohtake image) but decided on the more expansive and collaborative 30 year overview ‘Dating the Page’ instead, stay tuned for details on that.
Photo Credit: The shot of me in the Black Mountains was taken by Lee Pugh.