Author: Ian D. Hall
Published: 3rd June, 2021
Paperback ISBN: 978 1 78645 490 4
eBook ISBN: 978 1 78645 491 1
Length: 19,000 words (approx.)
Category/Genre: Poetry, Literary Fiction
Where to buy:
Beaten Track (ebook)
Beaten Track (paperback)
Barnes and Noble
“Never talk in front of Dylan Thomas,” they said as they consumed their pints and spoke of their woes and tribulations, and of the weird relative coming to stay awhile, “for the Welsh Bard will somehow weave his mercurial magic for others to consume, just as he consumes life with heart, spirit and desire flowing through him.”
I have very little in common with Dylan Thomas, except for a once fondness for whisky, a love of poetry—of which he is one of the masters of the twentieth century, alongside Allen Ginsberg, W.H. Auden, Maya Angelou, Adrienne Rich and Liverpool’s very own Roger McGough—and that we both at one time performed our work in New York.
It is, however, to Dylan Thomas that Writing Out of Earshot is dedicated, along with Ginsberg. The book of poetry you hold in your hand is a response to my long-lasting adoration of these two men.
Writing Out of Earshot is also a confirmation that writing, for me at least, encompasses several aspects of life, of struggling with illness and the feeling of being invisible in a crowd, when people will say anything in front of you because they cannot see you. The life of a poet is not all drinks at The White Horse Hotel surrounded by hundreds of people; it is one that captures a moment when you are hidden away in your room, remembering, recalling certain words and worlds and transforming them as you give birth to the next poem.
“Do not go gentle into that good night,” for the moon outside your window is full, and the passing months have yet to tell their story.
Ian D. Hall, 2021
It's release day for Writing Out of Earshot - another excellent anthology of poetry and prose from Ian D. Hall, and this is my favourite, mostly for the collection of poems personifying the months. I'm not always in agreement with the poet when it comes to the characteristics of each, but it's a lot of fun reading them through his eyes, and that's very much how it goes in real life. Our perceptions of others differ, but that doesn't mean any of us are wrong, although I must say it was much easier to like February on paper than in reality. It's my second least-favourite month (after January), yet I feel a little sorry for it, what with having to fight for its days and all.
Flippant mini-spoilers aside, there's a more serious note to this collection, which is apparent in its title but becomes more poignant as the poems progress. I hope Ian won't mind me sharing this small excerpt from the title poem, as he says it so much better:
It came perhaps late in life,
the urge to shut the door
not with drama,
out of spite,
but for my own peace of mind,
to keep the noise down to a minimum
writing out of earshot.
To express time in notes,
pence and the bond of suffering
as you shake your head
from side to side, an out of time
clicking as a tongue biting down
desperate to fill the space
and ask, “What do I do?” behind
Writing is a solitary pursuit. Often our only interface with the world at large is the printed page, and it often does feel like we're bleating into the ether, or 'out of earshot'.
For sure, Ian D. Hall won't be out of earshot this time around, as there's also a collection of songs and spoken word recordings inspired by his work, entitled Listening Out of Earshot, being released within the next few weeks, for which I can take no credit, as it's been recorded and produced by Andrew Hesford, Mark Sebastian D'Lacey and Tony Higginson. Proceeds from sales go to Whitechapel Centre, Liverpool, UK.