Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Launch

It’s the little touches that I’m not good at…well, it’s the big ones too.  I am not an organiser.  I thought I had it sorted.  I’d talked to someone about cupcakes and another person about some music at the start and the finish.  I’d even found a dress and a flowery lace cardigan.  Did any of that actually happen last night?

The cupcakes didn’t happen.  It’s too complicated to explain why aside from the fact that I forgot to confirm needs and numbers.  The music didn’t happen as my fiddle player was in Dundee.  The dress didn’t happen because I just saw too many lumps and bumps to feel secure about it.

Stepping out of my comfort zone was most uncomfortable.  I settled for the biscuits supplied by the hotel, Kenny G playing on Youtube and dark trousers and a burnt orange top I felt comfortable in.

The trouble is – I don’t have a whole host of friends and I’m never at the centre of a party.  I don’t do witty small talk and I’m not at ease in large crowds.  I don’t really like people to look at me.  I don’t shine very brightly. A book launch seemed to require all of those in large doses.  Not for the first time did I think about letting my poetry book slide into the world without due pomp and ceremony.  I have to confess that I was considering asking someone taller, younger and prettier to pretend to be me.

It is good that God, knowing the general direction of my thoughts, decided to ignore them!  It was, after all, He kept reminding me, not my book that was being launched, but His.  He had waited a long time for the book to be published and it deserved a proper a proper birth into the world.  This was not some badly written second rate book of trite verse but something special, something He has commissioned.  He never picks the wrong person for the job.

The book is tremendous.  It is His book.  I put the words together but He breathed His own life into them.  

I didn’t need the whole host of friends – the friends I had brought their friends.  The people I wanted to be there came.  The people God had invited turned up.  It was not an empty room.  Someone quietly did a count up of the guests and took away the empty seats before we all sat down. 

The book is published by a charity called “For the Right Reasons”.  The director, Richard Burkitt, volunteered to be one of my speakers.  I expected him to talk about the charity and the work they do with people who want to conquer their addictions.  He chose to read a couple of poems from the book, reminding us that all are helpless without the help of God.  We all need our lives to be changed – not just those who live on the margins of society.

I am the only one who has ever read out my poems aloud.  I have had other people read them to themselves when proof reading and such.  Hearing Richard read a couple of them, almost acting out some of the lines, was just awesome.  Poetry is meant to be read aloud.  It’s not supposed to be read silently.  

The second speaker was my best friend, Jeanni.  She is much like me in many ways. We have met together to study the Bible each week.  Sometimes we have not got around to the study, but shared faith in a different way.  We have laughed together and cried together, grumbled together and sat silently together. 

She also chose to read a couple of poems.  Reading?  Much more than that.  The life that God breathed into the poems she breathed out into the people that had gathered there.  Could you preach a poem?  She did!  She also said some very nice things about me!

No one in the audience dozed off!  There were some that came expecting a Christian message.  They knew it was a Christian poetry book.  There were some that had come just for the poetry.  They heard a Christian message! 

I was the final speaker.  I suppose I could have read a few of my favourite poems from the book, but I decided to take them through a guided talk of my conversion not into the Kingdom of God, but into the world of poetry.  Beginning with Omar Khyyam and my Brownie entertainer’s badge I introduced them to my Intermediate 2  Creative Writing certificate, and Stephen Fry’s challenge to compose a poem using a tetrameter/trimeter alternated rhyming scheme.

The man on Star Trek does he know
That he will soon be dead?
The opening scenes are fatal for
The stranger dressed in red

The evening was an overwhelming success.  The book I think was almost a secondary thing.  People were delighted to discover that this thing called poetry that they thought they didn’t really like was really very entertaining.  I think they also discovered that this person called Mel had a very interesting tale to tell and loved God to bits.  They got a very healthy dose of God and the challenges He presents to people. 

And they bought a poetry book or two.

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