The cover of my fourth collection HOME FARM

Here is the cover image for my new collection Home Farm. Out January 2019 and up now at the Shearsman website. Huge thanks to Nicole Griffin for her help with the design and to Tony Frazer of Shearsman Books, as always. To see details of the collection and the full image click on the link below.

I guess there’s often a story about the cover image of a book—I grew up with the Standard Cyclopedia of Modern Agriculture, 1908, a 13-book set, kept in the bookcase in the sitting room of the farm. In some of the volumes there were paper anatomical models of farm animals, a horse, a pig, a sheep, a cow and these models had lungs and livers which could be folded back to reveal intestines, stomachs, the heart (which could be opened out to see the chambers), and a painted embryo underneath pretty much full term. I spent many hours poring over these models as a child, folding and unfolding them. When I was writing Home Farm, I wrote a short poem called Early Anatomies remembering the model of the cow with its four stomachs. The Cyclopedias had long gone—I’d taken them myself to the second-hand bookshop in Salisbury when my parents were retiring thirty years ago, they had no room for them in the new house and neither did I in my small London flat. But when I finished writing Home Farm the image I wanted for the cover was the one of the cow. It seemed unlikely I’d find it in Lewes where I live but I went out looking anyway. I tried a couple of second-hand bookshops and then tried the 15th Century Bookshop – there, in a frankly grubby corner on the floor, was a partial set of the exact Cyclopedias my father, and grandfather before him, had owned. The cover was immediately familiar. In this partial set was the volume I wanted, the one with the cow! The other detail in this tale – the volume is embossed with the words Fordingbridge, Hants – which is just 5 miles from where the farm was – so it’s possible it was the same one I sold to the bookshop.

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