My favorite definition of the verb ‘launch’ is “to send or shoot (something, such as a rocket) into the air or water or into outer space”. When anyone talks of launches, I think of NASA countdowns, young children building homemade rockets, my New Year’s Eve friends setting off fireworks.
Two weeks ago, I had my own launch. My debut poetry collection, More than you were, was published and celebrated at Cardiff Waterstones. Not as exciting as a space mission, sure, but it has forever changed my life. Now, officially, I am one of those people I always dreamed of being: a writer.
The launch itself was more than I ever imagined it could be. The room was bursting with family, friends and poetry lovers. We ran out of chairs and glasses so people drank their wine from teacups and coffee mugs. My fellow poets, Natalie Ann Holborow and Emily Blewitt, were mesmerizing. And, for the first time, I cried while reading a poem about my Dad. The love and emotional charge in the room rushed forward and overtook me. Later, at a long table, I was asked to sign books and wished I had practiced my signature. Even now, as I type this, my eyes are welling up with gratitude for everyone who made it possible, who came along, who sent congratulations from afar. I am grateful as well for The Cardiff Review who wrote a kind post just after the launch when all of us were still reeling.
In the days that followed, I felt a strange mix of relief and fear. I felt happy the book was out there, speaking to people, but also worried about how it could portray my father or my family. I still worry about what my Mom will think – who has never read the poems but always encouraged me to publish them. I worry that my carefully chosen verbs, precise punctuation, desire for clarity and concision will be seen as ‘not poetic enough’. But this is okay, isn’t it? I have launched this rocket right out into the world and now it is unpredictable. Who knows what it will bring, but I can only hope that people who read the book will see the love in it, the real rawness of life and enjoy some time, good or bad, in a world alive with me and my father.