Last Wednesday I was on the phone talking to my Greek composer friend when a flurry of messages dropped in. Two women had travelled by train to attend the Poetry Pop Up Book Launch for Field Guide to the Lost Flower of Crete but accidentally arrived two days early. They were in the city forest hoping to see me. In five quick minutes I changed, grabbed a bottle of chilled Prosecco, glasses and their pre-ordered copies of the Field. On their train rental bikes they met me near the park entrance and I led them to the round bench built around a tree (mentioned in “Circular”). When we heard an invisible horse (just like in my poems) I read “At the ends of the Earth” and “Nectar.” I had forgotten to switch off my phone and a friend video called me. I asked the two women if he could see them as they sat in the grass holding the Field and my phone friend said, “Is that today?” I then read the poem about how I had met him. It was all unplanned but unfolded in a natural way. I signed the books and we toasted each other.
Thursday afternoon I had a visit from the artistic director of a music ensemble. He was performing on Friday evening and couldn’t attend the Poetry Pop Up but wished for me to sign his copy of the Field. We drank Crete mountain tea, enjoyed some of Nicolas Vanaise’s vegan chocolates and chatted about art and the state of our world.
Friday evening we cycled off to the city forest to set up for our event. I placed blankets on the ground and while waiting for our guests laid down and gazed up at the tree tops. The weather was perfect! An outdoor event is always a risk but the sun was out glinting over the pond. Guests arrived by bike and/or train from multiple cities. People of all ages were present ranging from their early twenties into their mid-eighties and they possessed passports from at least six different countries. The audience formed a semicircle and an American composer gave a deeply moving introductory speech comparing my poetry and I to a forest. I read poems, signed books, and then the celebration began. The woman who had traveled the furthest won the chocolate lemon tree grand raffle prize, and five other people won mini-chocolate boxes or notebooks. Two young entrepreneurs served coffee and petits fours from their bicycle coffee bar. This was impressive and delicious! It seemed like a miracle to be gathered together again with a group of people. A few friends brought gifts and it felt almost like a wedding celebration in honour of the new book, a book now joined together with the lives of many people. I’ve launched books on the cafe terrace of a Nova Scotian fishing village, in a bookstore in Oxford, England and in an Amsterdam concert hall but the forest celebration will for a long time remain as my all time favourite.
Saturday morning a friend who had attended the Poetry Pop Up phoned and said, “Do you like cardamon? Do you like cinnamon? Do you like breakfast pastries?” I gave a triple yes and he cycled through the city bringing morning treats and we had a beautiful post Pop Up conversation.
Hopefully I can have more book launches in the future. For those of you who still wish to own a copy of the Field Guide to the Lost Flower of Crete you can order direct from the publisher here (with world wide distribution).
Thank you to all the people who attended the Poetry Pop Up Book Launch, and to all the people who made the journey toward the publication of the Field possible. A special thanks to all the hard working people at McGill-Queen’s University Press who are the behind the scenes team that make dreams possible.
Photos by Laura, Rob and Eleonore.