‘They Slipped Away’ blog post by Sue Deans

Recently I realised a dream I have had since childhood – to be a writer. With the help of SPP I produced a small volume of poems entitled “They Slipped Away”. Most of the poems were written in the last 20 years, while a few date back to the 90s. They cover many topics, from places that have meant something to me, the natural world I cherish and the loves (both romantic and family) I have experienced in my life.

My very first poem was written at the age of eight: it was about a knight. Well, they do say, “write about what you know”! In primary school I had a lovely teacher who encouraged us to learn poems by heart. In fact, I seem to recall that you could go out to play once you had perfectly recited your poem, and I was often the first to be let out into the playground. Around this time, I also ‘discovered’ the concept of metaphor and was totally blown away by the idea.

I continued to write, and enjoy, poetry throughout my life. After some years working as a librarian, I decided to go to college as a mature student and became an English teacher. Poetry continued to be important to me: I loved teaching it and encouraging my pupils to write their own poems. I found that boys could be particularly sensitive once they started writing. Some of my colleagues shied away from the Poetry sections of the curriculum but this was always my first choice.

And then some months ago, a chance remark from my ex-partner (we’ve known each other since we were 16 and are still close) sparked the idea of self-publishing some of my poems (several of which were addressed to him). My sister also encouraged me. If I was ever to do it, now was surely the time. I researched a number of companies but some were suspiciously cheap and some employed a ‘hard sell’. When I spoke to Douglas about SPP’s service, I was really impressed with his explanation of the process and his friendliness. SPP had published two of my sister’s novels so I knew I could depend on them. The whole process was highly professional throughout. Frances led me through every stage, patiently explaining areas that were unfamiliar to me. The paperwork I was sent helped to clarify everything and all my requests were met with a positive response.

My daughter, an arts graduate, drew the cover design (including my beloved hare) and this was converted by the SPP designer into what I think is a stunning front cover. Near publication, I feared the pandemic would prevent my dream from coming true but SPP assured me everything was going ahead, safely behind closed doors! The response from family and friends has so far been very positive and several people have requested further copies to send as gifts themselves.  

Above all, I want my poems to be understood and enjoyed by readers. But I know that some people are put off by the perceived ‘difficulty’ of poetry. That’s why the first poem (presented almost as a frontispiece) is “Living with a Poet” where I make gentle fun of poets.

Living with a poet

I couldn’t live with a poet.
All those scraps of paper,
Untimely ripped from spiral pads,
Fragments
On the inside of a cheque book,
Arcane lines scrawled
On the backs of supermarket receipts:
(Asda’s are good for an epic.)
Never knowing
When that faraway look
Will appear in their eyes
As the brain scans the mind’s thesaurus; 
Knowing they exist only
For that moment, but
Only in their own head.
How they carry the poem
Around with them
Unformed, half-finished
Or, even more alarming,
Newly born.

‘They Slipped Away’ can be purchased here.

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