Lifesaving Poems: Sean O’Brien’s ‘Before’

Anthony Wilson

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To safe and almost universal silence I published How Far From Here is Home?(Stride) a few days before Christmas in 1996. The book did well, selling out its print run in a little over two years. For a début book of poems to do that in the pre-internet, social media age looks to me now like a miracle.

Rupert Loydell of Stride did a very good job of selling the book pre-publication, on a slight discount, to a subscription list of friends, family and anyone else who knew me.  Not only did this give Stride a bit of necessary cash flow in advance of paying the printer, it also meant we were up on the deal before the book hit the shelves as it were. (Spoiler alert: I never actually saw the book in a bookshop).

As Rupert was fond of telling me: ‘You won’t sell anything at Waterstone’s…

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