‘Lines and Wrinkles’ – Hastings Battleaxe goes to print

Well, not actually Hastings Battleaxe, me.  A collection of my poems, ‘Lines and Wrinkles’ was launched last Friday to mark my 70th Brthday – of which, more in the next post. This is just about the book, and how you can get hold of it.

Essential facts first:

Sales of the book will benefit three charities: The Sara Lee Trust, Riding for the Disabled (RDA), and Queen Alexandra College in Birmingham (QAC).

All three charities are close to my heart. Although, touch wood, I have not yet had to use the services provided by Sara Lee for people living with cancer, I know plenty of people who have. Their shop in Ore is right next door to the hall where we have our WI meetings, and we see a lot of them. They do a good job. Grand daughter goes to the local RDA centre at Fairlight Hall when she comes to stay, and I myself went riding as a child to a stables that later became one of the first RDA centres.  QAC in Harborne is a special college for young people with autism, attended by my grand daughter. She is very much enjoying her time there – at the poetry launch event, we heard how she had made her first ever friends at the college. This is a huge milestone in her life.

The book is illustrated by local artist Danny Mooney. It includes many poems are about Hastings, but also covers my life and childhood memories, experiences of travel and plenty more.  It includes ‘What my WI means to me’, a poem that won the National Federation of Women’s Institutes Lady Denman Cup a few years ago. The Queen presented the cup to me at the NFWI Annual Centenary Meeting at the Royal Albert Hall in 2015.

Copies are available by emailing stephgaunt@gmail.com, or calling 0774 777 6869. The book costs £8.00 plus £1 postage if you want it posted in the UK.

What is it like seeing your work in print?  When it has happened before it didn’t matter so much. In  my working life I had two counselling manuals published, and various research reports/guidance documetns about social housing.  That was just work, and who was ever going to read them anyway?

But with poetry, every word matters, and as a poet, every time you re-read a poem, you want to change something. I know I am never going to be a great poet, but even so I now don’t like opening the book because I instantly see things that I am not happy with…. Oh, don’t beat yourself up.

Having said that, I do believe that the poems are readable, and accessible to a wide audience, while being, as one of my slightly surprised friends put it ‘These are actually real poems!’  Huh, cheek.  Some of the poems are funny, some have a sting in the tail, and a few are more serious….

People have been complimentary. Here is a selection of comments:

‘I read your poems cover to cover, and being a great fan of coastal walks and sparkling turquoise sea, I particularly liked the Cornish Coast Path poem as well as the Slugs and Snails Sonnet.’

 Many thanks for sharing your life story through your poetry.  Danny’s illustrations are a bonus. ‘

 ‘I just wanted to say how moved I was by your poem ‘In memory of Sue G.’

Please can I buy another copy of your book – I was reading a few of the poems to my Ma over the phone and they really delighted her….’

 ‘I’m enjoying the poems…. I like the Poldark one particularly’

 ‘I really liked ‘What My WI means to Me’. That sense of belonging to a community is taken for granted by many but it is hard to come by for some of us.’

So, Battleaxe readers, if you would like a copy, you know what to do!  Those charities deserve all the support we can give them!

Battleaxe with RDA pony Doone at the book launch event.



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