Today marks one year since I wrote the first two poems from Nail Varnish, my debut poetry collection. The poems, ‘Phoebe’ and ‘The Bloggses’, felt like a change to my usual style, and by 5th April, I’d written the titular poem, and decided on a possible new direction for my poetry.
Nail Varnish is concerned with the idea that poetry is not biographical. I mean, there are plenty of things in the book that can contradict this, most of them deliberate, but hopefully there’s enough ambiguity in the book that I keep a sort of ‘distance’.
It’s probably not going to seem like the poems are all written in one voice, but I certainly approached them all with this ‘voice’ in my head. This is, even if just for me, the connecting factor between all the poems: they are all spoken by a rag-tag nail-varnished man.
Or woman. Even though it’ll be my version of the Nail Varnish persona on the cover – it doesn’t mean he has to be yours.
There are two main themes of these poems. If one of them is the idea of anti-biography, then the other is the end of a relationship (or something close to being one). Lots of the more narrative poems, ‘Greek Gods’, for example, are concerned with this; as well as poems like ‘Friends’ and ‘Not really a poem about road trips’, which don’t have a character in them, as such.
I hope, though, that Nail Varnish is appealing to people who don’t read poetry. I hope it’s fairly easy to follow, because that’s the sort of poetry I enjoy reading. I know some of them are more than a little weird – but just make of them what you will.
To have them hanging around with me for so long has been a privilege, and it’s been so exciting to hear people’s reactions, people’s confidence in me and my work, and the poems spoken aloud. They exist in the world more than any of my poetry has before – and I couldn’t be prouder. (Until my next collection comes out, of course. I’ve already got about ten ideas for that competing in my head 24/7.)
These poems may have been spoken by me, through the kaleidoscope of somebody else, but now they’re yours.
You can listen to the poetry on Spotify below, stream on other streaming services including Google Play, Apple Music and Tidal, or buy on iTunes, Bandcamp.
You can also listen to my playlist, ‘Songs I Painted My Nails To’, below. It contains some of the songs that inspired Nail Varnish (and there were a lot), some of the songs I’ve found later that fit well with it, and some of the poems from the album.
Much love x