A warm hello to all of you on this grey day here in London. I sincerely hope the year ahead is a kind, generous and peaceful one for each and all of you. While it is true that the first couple of weeks haven't been exactly peace-filled (!), I feel hopeful that happier times lie ahead. To quote Neruda “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”
That said, I hope all of you who posted selfies with flowers from the launch have now received your hand-painted bookmarks. If you haven't, please just email and there will be one on the way as soon as the paint dries. If you'd like to special order some bookmarks, just let me know. I'm happily in the process of creating my own studio in a now-empty bedroom of our house, which means not only new hand-painted designs for bookmarks, but also that I can finally work on larger canvasses, a dream I've had for ages. For now, a small sample of art is available here on my website with 20% of all sales going directly to Children International.
Most of all, I'm super excited to share the first three video-poems from the launch and introduce the first two of the eight readers. Although The Ministry of Flowers doesn't have named sections as such, the book moves through the complex ideas embedded in a tiny poem of Emily Dickinson's, whose first line (and title) is "Between My Country — and the Others." And what a line. The first poems in the book explore the possible meanings tucked within.
The first of the three is 'Letters from Abroad,' a poem that explores what it might mean for each of us to be a 'country' that necessarily has boundaries and borders -- and yet perhaps it's even more a reminder to self that we are never alone, even when -- maybe especially when -- we feel the most alone.
The second poem 'Remember when we thought we'd live forever?' is read by Sally Anglesea, the incredible event coordinator of the launch. The poem was inspired by a night out in Paris a couple of years ago with my 21 year old daughter and her three friends as we sat in a rooftop bar overlooking the lights of the city. I wrote the first draft in a quick flurry as soon as we returned home that evening. There was a sweet, nostalgic joy that came from being with out with such young people -- memories of how life felt at that age, when the future was full of that heady mix of frightening, wonderful possibilities. How could the buzz ever end?
The third 'Memory is not a peacock landing on a sleeve' is read by my amazing poet-friend Valerie Wallace. Although the title of the poem sat with me for a while before writing the poem, once the poem arrived, it came out as a long, 40+ line poem. With time -- perhaps like memory itself -- the poem became shorter and shorter. I wanted it to be an experience like memory itself -- like the whisper of a wren, as brief and fleeting as the flutter of wings.
All three poems and even more importantly, introductions to the readers, can be foundherewith more to follow soon!
Before I leave you, a quick word about the endorsements of The Ministry of Flowers. The quotes on the back of the book are tiny excerpts from generous, thoughtful, rich endorsements from a variety of people I admire. I'll share a new one with each newsletter as each is like a small poem in itself. The first one below contains beautifully-rendered words from John Sibley Williams, a poet whose work never ceases to astound me.
Writers really do feel genuine joy when we hear from readers. I have so enjoyed your emails. If you enjoyed the book, one of the ways you can help me most -- and help the book reach more readers -- is to do a review, however brief, on Amazon (UK), Amazon (US), Goodreads or any other book-site. Of course, buying and sharing the book is amazing too. Thank you all for your help with that. If you haven't bought the book yet, the direct link for purchasing through Valley Press is here.
And with that, I will get back to my diligent efforts to make 2021 a happier one. Thank you for being here.
With much gratitude Andrea
A truly compelling and original work, The Ministry of Flowers intimately weaves cultural concerns with family drama and questions of personal identity and societal gender expectations into a dream-like tapestry that’s as sharp-edged as it is gorgeously rendered. Slot’s visceral collection smolders with heartache, gritty natural landscapes, and an insistent lyrical beauty that both celebrates and haunts the edges of our familiar world. Here, even smiles are ‘scar-lined’. Here, ‘Goodbye / frames our lives’. These poems are packed with metaphors and feelings that made my heart fall into my stomach and my mind spin with creative delight. At its core, The Ministry of Flowers is a profound ‘way of / saying, I am here, and here I will remain’. John Sibley Williams, author of As One Fire Consumes Another, winner of the Orison Poetry Prize Learn more about John's amazing work here. FOR THE VIDEOS AND INFORMATION ON THE READERS JUST CLICK HERE