Tuesday, July 16, 2019

What I couldn't include

Jenetta, a long-time reader of the blog, commented about my new book EVEN WHEN THEY KNOW in the comments section of my last blog post (Clinging on). She was talking about the poetry in the book and how she couldn't relate to Jane and Joe quoting poetry and connecting through it, and I responded there.

It brought back for me the whole issue of not being able to include the poems the characters refer to in the text of my novel. The poems were certainly in the draft, but the cost of including them all was prohibitive, and when publication loomed I had to choose which were the most important, and therefore worth paying for. And then, whether or not I could afford the price quoted.  I don't begrudge the poets (or the beneficiaries of their estates) the fees, it's just that I could not afford them. Two people were very generous and allowed me to quote poems without paying for them.

There was one poem I really wanted but there was not even a price. It's called Home and is by Warsan Shire. It is the most powerful poem I've seen on the subject of refugees and I commend it to you. I wrote to the poet's agent for permission to include it but the response was that they were not giving permission to anyone to use it. If you look for it online you will find it. Indeed, here is a link to the text of the poem and the poet herself reading it on Youtube.

The other three poems I would have liked to have included in the text of my novel, are

This Is Just To Say by William Carlos Williams

which is the one parodied by Joe when Jane falls and crushes some marigolds.

Late Fragment by Raymond Carver


Wild Geese  by Mary Oliver read here by the poet

Both of the latter are referred to by Jane in her journal.

Lastly, there was a verse from a Bob Dylan song, Mama You've Been on my Mind, I didn't even try to get permission for, because I thought it would waste time and energy and result in a blank:

Perhaps it’s the colour of the sun cut flat
And coverin' the crossroads I'm standing at
Or maybe it's the weather or something like that
But mama you've been on my mind.

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