Dealing with the Poetry Archive

I’ve been a little absent from the blog of late. There is still writing going on in the background, with various projects progressing slowly.

I had a little epiphany a couple of days ago, though, which has taken over my working existence, and I thought I’d share it with you. I’m dealing with the archive.

I’ve been writing for many years now, beginning my journey in earnest around 1998. That early phase culminated around 2003/2004 with the publication of a collection, which was The Book of Evenings. This collection is about to be resurrected and is included in the batch of 10 new books I’m hoping to receive in the mail in the next week or so (fingers crossed).

At around that time and through till, maybe 2015 or thereabouts, my writing work took a new direction and became more akin to the way I write now. That period included the release of two more published collections (designed and formatted by my wife Leanne and then offset printed), which were memoirs written in verse. The first of these was Small Town Kid in 2008, which I re-released in 2018, and the second was Memoir Of A Dog in 2009, which will hopefully be re-published in 2021.

I have been quite prolific throughout this period and have felt the need to do something to acknowledge my journey, and to pay a little homage to the developmental progression reflected by the work. Part of the solution was to commence this blog, a few years back. I had in mind that it should serve as an on-line archive, and it does fill that role, to an extent.

I discovered, as all bloggers do, however, that anything posted to a blog sinks to the bottom, and becomes invisible. A moment of posting sunshine is quickly buried beneath new postings and forgotten. It is nice to be able to find a particular poem when I search for it, but it requires feats of memory and archival organisation that are beyond me to maintain.

How wonderful, then, to have started to become proficient in creating paperback books through Print On Demand (POD) technology!

I’ve shared my recent experience of creating an omnibus series of poetry collections for my personal use, as a way of taming the bulk of my Bachelard-inspired project. That effort became eight of the books I’m currently awaiting.

It dawned on me that I could do the same thing with my poetry archive, which is enormous and span the two developmental periods that I mentioned above.

What a wonderful way to show respect for my writing origins and development, while coincidentally putting to rest a nagging feeling of having unfinished business to address.

The task of rescuing original work, formatting and curating it is mind-numbing, but has been completed for the early work (1998 – 2003). It will be broken into four indexed volumes and is now at the stage where covers need to be created.

Assuming I’m happy with the result of these efforts, I’ll go ahead and place the rest of the archive in POD books in due course.

It has been a lot of work, but this is the most elegant solution I’ve come across for the problem and I’m just delighted, so far.

Journeying back through the poems has incidentally proven to be a very rewarding experience. Reading some of the old poems has been like looking through a photograph album, with individual poems evoking mood and location, people and relationships, revelations and confusions. The whole gamut.

I’ll try to get back to some regular posting of new work when my head is clear of some of these preoccupations. Meanwhile, I hope you are all well, staying healthy and sane through these trying times.


9 thoughts on “Dealing with the Poetry Archive

  1. “A moment of posting sunshine…” love that phrase, Frank! What an incredible job to organize, but I’m sure you won’t regret the time spent. And I’m sure some moments of unexpected joy as you brought the sun onto your older works.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re exactly right, Ellen.

      I don’t use photos for my memorabilia, but have always written – interpreted – what caught my attention. Reading through archival snippets is a complete transportation back to those moments. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

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