The Moth Box started as two collections. One was a series of poems about having lived in Wales all my adult life .The other was a collection of nature poems inspired by a course where I first encountered a moth box.
A moth box is a light box to attract moths, so that the species can be counted and identified .
It is filled with torn up egg boxes and twigs so the moths settle and sleep when the light is turned off .
In the morning the box is opened and the insects can be examined under a hand lens , identified, and then released by putting onto branches where they blend into the trees. It was exciting. I had never held a moth on my hand before.I could see the scales of pattern on its wings.
I grow Evening Primrose as it attracts insects, but the moths had just been shapes attracted to the scent of the flowers.Now, I discovered the wonderful names of moths: Scorched Wing, Tussock, White Ermine, Marbled Coronet, Phoenix. It was poetry.Both moths and butterflies belong to the insect species Lepidoptera.There are more moths than butterflies, yet we are more aware of the latter.
There are at least 160,000 species of moth.Being night time creatures they are more elusive and drab.
I tend to think of poets as the moths of the literary scene.
People can usually name a novelist, but have to struggle to think of a poem or a poet. I hope that will change this year with the celebration of the centenary of Dylan Thomas’ birth, Dylan100.
I have always written poetry.Maybe this is because poems are small on the page. However, my favourite poem as a child was the long poem Hiawatha .I didn’t encounter précis, the art of reducing a long piece of writing to a concise distillation of meaning, until I was 13.At first I preferred comprehension, but then developed a love of précis, taking words out of a piece to make it more succinct.This is a skill a poet needs, and working with an editor helps this process to take the poems from the rough diamond to the polished gem.
I was fortunate to have the poet Alan Kellermann as my editor; he shuffled the two small collections together.He also sourced the amazing cover photo of a Polyphemus moth.
The collection I sent to him had a different title. I had once called one of the collections The Moth Box and other poems . Seredipidity. I didn’t know then that mine was the first book he’d edited, and he says that makes it special.For me it’s special as it’s my first book with Parthian.