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Pamphlet: Chat 2 with Suzanna Fitzpatrick

A quick chat with Suzanna Fitzpatrick

szWhat was it that steered you towards publishing a pamphlet?
I have been writing poetry all my life, but focussed on it more when I became a freelance writer and editor in 2006. After building up a track record of poems in magazines and anthologies, I wanted to work towards a pamphlet, and felt that a themed sequence would work best for this format. I actually have several pamphlet-length sequences; some drawing on my work as a volunteer shepherd, for example, but these poems are closest to my heart for obvious reasons.

How long did it take to build up the poems?
I began writing the poems in 2011, when pregnant with my son. This obviously coincided with a period in my life when I didn’t get much writing time! However, I scribbled down notes as ideas for poems came to me, and came back to them whenever I had a moment. Hence the sequence begins with pregnancy poems, and moves through birth, breastfeeding, and the early days of motherhood. The later poems consider experiences as my son begins to fledge out into the world and encounters all the joys and hazards that this entails. Some of these were written as recently as the end of 2015, by which time I was pregnant with my daughter, now nearly 7 months old. Here we go again…

How did you choose a press?
There are many great small presses; we seem to be having a wonderful renaissance period as far as pamphlet publication is concerned. But Sheila Wakefield does a particularly brilliant job of producing books which are both beautiful objects, and full of interesting ideas. Red Squirrel is 10 years old this year; interestingly the same amount of time as I’ve been focussing on poetry. Having long admired their work, I submitted ten poems from Fledglings to their James Kirkup Memorial Prize in 2014, and was delighted when Sheila called me last spring to say that I had been selected as the winner by judges Bob Beagrie and Stevie Ronnie.

When you first saw the publication what did you think?
I was thrilled when my box of pamphlets arrived. Things have been so hectic since my daughter was born that I did the final proofs very much on the fly and forgot even to ask what the cover would be like. But Sheila had hit upon one of my favourite colours. The typesetting is meticulous, and each poem is given plenty of space on the page. As for any poet, holding one’s debut publication in one’s hands after years of work is very moving. The pamphlet very much feels like my third child – hopefully the first of many (books, that is; no more babies, or I’ll never get any writing done!).

Fledglings

I stroke the tiny kites
of your shoulder blades,
imagine wings. Gingerly

I stretch my own.
It’s been so long
since I trusted them.

As your nestling’s down
gives place to feathers,
I’ll re-learn flight with you. Let’s stand,

teeter-happy, brink-thrilled,
taste the wind. And we’ll soar,
my darling. We will soar.

 

 

Duet

I sing to you.
My notes rise like bubbles
through a darkness warmed by breath,
telling an old, old story
like the freshest news.
You listen, stir
in time to the music,
reassure me. I move my hand
across the dome of you
your fingers tracing mine
on the other side of my belly’s glass.

On the other side of your belly’s glass,
your fingers tracing mine
across the dome of you
reassure me. I move my hand
in time to the music
and you listen, stir,
like the freshest news
telling an old, old story
through a darkness warmed by breath.
My notes rise like bubbles:
I sing to you.

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