Separated by seas, connected by literature
I had promised to write about James and our long distance impromptu poetry collaboration for Duets. Today’s post is an introduction to a genius who has always kept a low profile. It is also a prelude to the post on Duets and how we collaborated on it. I will post it in a few weeks. Waiting for my print copies to arrive.
I don’t know how to begin telling you about James. I thought it would be easy for me to just talk about mentors, writing experiences, friendships, publishing of my books, our friendship across time and space etc etc but when I am actually here I am unable to find words. What do you say, how do you explain an elusive person who is too modest and shy to talk about himself and his achievements ( which he calls”little things I did”? How do you explain a bond that goes beyond the boundaries of all distances, physical or mental?
I was rather annoyed that he did not write much about himself on the back cover of our collaborative book of poems ‘Duets’. I knew he won’t share his photograph in any case even after my relentless nagging. After a lot of discussion I decided to write about him here. People needed to know who’s the other poet behind the beautiful work we have created and how it came about. They need to know his literary background, “the things he did”. Nag nag nag .. and finally I got him to send me a list of his published works etc. I am pretty sure there is much more but I will draw a line and respect his privacy at this point. I am glad he opened up a bit. If you know James Goddard this is a huge achievement on my part.. hahaha..
I met James on Facebook via some mutual friend in 2012. He was not sharing much of his writings on his timeline but his monochrome photographs were so utterly gorgeous they could draw anyone to explore more. His visits to India and the magnificent photos were the connecting dots and with time our friendship grew stronger. We did have our fights, disagreements, arguments but in the end what emerged was a stronger bond. There is an immense love and respect I have for him not just for being my guide and publisher but also for being such a selfless, caring confidante and friend. He has listened to me and lifted me out of some of the darkest periods of my struggle. Listening is a dying art and not once he made me feel uncomfortable. He has a big role to play in my personal growth too.
James’s gracious presence, life experience and unbiased attitude continues to fill me with the energy I need as I battle my personal issues. Over the period of time he introduced me to other genres, writers, helped me polish my writing. Not just poetry but fiction too. I was also fascinated by his extensive travels in India, Middle East and Europe that he undertook in pursuit of photographs of ordinary people and interesting places. Here was a guy so talented and creative with great sense of humor and passion for life ready to help me with all he had. I felt blessed. As he began to share short stories, ditties, poems or “little pieces” as he called them I realized what a brilliant writer he was. each of us were hooked to every word he wrote and waited with baited breath for the next one to be posted on his timeline on FB. A little birdie told me his interest in Science Fiction began at the age of twelve. Writing good stuff comes so effortlessly to him.
As day went by I felt encouraged to write more, write better, to explore new ideas, to send my work for online publication and then began another phase of my journey as a published author. A step forward from where Kris has brought me with his care and support of four years. He’s still around if I need him.
If you love my writing then you should know that it is the product of hours and hours of patient guidance and hard work irrespective of time and distance. I was as eager to learn as he was to teach though he may not call it teaching. A nudge in the right direction perhaps, “just suggestions”. Always there without being intrusive. Never culling my true voice. I think this is what laid the foundation for Duets.
I couldn’t have dreamed of getting my poems and short fiction published in print if James had not edited and published them. I owe them to him. You can see my LBP Author Page here
I am linking his profile here so that you can read his work that’s been posted on his TL and notes. Check his albums for some stunning photographs. His love of monochrome photography started with his first camera and he still firmly believes that only black and white images can bring out the beauty of the mundane. His photographs have been featured in the arts and literature annual, The Zaporogue , edited by Seb Doubinsky; Invierno: A Cantata of Spain in Winter(John Lewis) and on several book covers. James was born in Bournemouth, a university town and resort on the south coast of England, lived in London for a short time and now lives with his 10,000 plus books and three cameras in Driffield, a small East Yorkshire town.
I could go on telling you about our association if I had enough space here but I want you to discover his genius through his writings and photography. I request his friends, associates and co writers/editors to pitch in and provide more information in the comments.
Social media has its assets too. Its not always intrusive and addictive in a negative manner. For me Facebook was like a virtual home where we were all connected yet there was were spaces between us. That important space which we all need to evolve. It played a part in my learning, my friendships, my mental and emotional health and perhaps to a large extent finding myself. It is true and we’ll talk about it sometime. The writer friends tribe that I am part of now is all via FB. Each one a gem. I have written about many of them in my earlier posts.
I am posting a list of James’s work that I could gather by stalking various pages, sites and pushing him to reveal some facts. Do look up these links or books on Google as I do not have all the links to lead you to them.
- Published the first attempt at a bibliography of the fiction of J. G. Ballard. It was called J. G. Ballard: a Bibliography
- Edited and published the SF fanzine Cypher (early 1970s) attracting contributions from many well-known writers including Brian Aldiss, Kingsley Amis, J. G. Ballard and James Blish. Cypher was the first fanzine to receive an element of Arts Council funding, via Southern Arts.
- A short interview with Ballard is published on the Ballard page of British Library Website
- Published some poems—in an obscure publication, titles forgotten
- Published a short story in the magazine of the Leeds University Science Fiction Society—title forgotten
- Short Fiction A Dish of Devils in Science Fantasy July – August 1964
- Contributed three of the major themed articles to The Visual Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction edited by Brian Ash (Pan Books, 1977 in paperback, Triune Books, 1978 in hardcover) . The articles were titled – Cities & Cultures, Sex & Taboos, Cataclysms & Dooms.
- Co-edited with Interzone editor David Pringle, the J. G. Ballard festschrift G. Ballard: the First Twenty Years (Bran’s Head Books)
- Contributed articles and author interviews to the magazine Science Fiction Monthly and was also instrumental in acquiring several works of fiction for that magazine. Here is one link
- Read and advised on science fiction for Fontana Paperbacks
- With others set up Kerosina Publications, published limited edition books by prominent science fiction writers including Brian Aldiss, John Brunner, Philip K. Dick, Gene Wolfe and Lucius Shepard
- Acted as British secretary to the UK chapter of World SF for several years during the same period and also edited the World SF Newsletter.
- Worked as a bookseller specializing in science fiction for some years
- Worked as a freelance book editor for a number of publishers
- Set up and managed the website of author Brian Aldiss
- Wrote a ‘remembrance’ of author Keith Roberts which was published in the UK, USA, Japan and several other countries
- Set up and managed the website of author Ian R. MacLeod
- Established the small publisher Leaky Boot Press and, with Seb Doubinsky, Weirdo Magnet which publishes what Seb calls “New Edge” literature, that could be defined as provocative, mind-bending and outside genre.
- Photographs of Spain included in the book Invierno – A Cantata of Spain in Winter photographs by John Lewis, Patricia Lewis & James Goddard
- Subject of an ‘appreciation’ (for photography) by Marcia Marquez Rambourg in the French language online journal La Revue des Resources
- Published stories and photographs in Le Zaparogue edited by Seb Doubinsky
- Published poems and photographs in online journal The Arabesques Review
- Set up online photography portfolio
- Published a story in Silence is White (Weirdo Magnet), an anthology edited by Chris Kelso
- Compiled a book of his own short stories, Dolls, as yet unpublished
- Published a book of collaborative poems, Duets (Leaky Boot Press), with New Delhi based poet Tikuli
- Collaborated with Canadian singer/lyricist John Lyle in this beautiful song. You can see some of James’s photographs’s here.
- You can find James Goddard’s contribution of actual Ballard documents from his extensive collection, a total of 56 pages of Ballard’s handwritten text, interview corrections, lists and more from JGB’s intense and experimental late 1960s and 1970s in Rick McGrath’s The J.G.Ballard Book.
- Cover Art – The Roads (2005) ,The Dead Orchards (2006)
- There are some more of his essays and reviews that were published but I am unable to track the links.
He is an avid collector of science fiction first editions by a select group of authors. He is also a master of truism 😀 ( that is something no one else knows I am sure.. hahaha) I am tempted to disclose more but perhaps I can leave it for some other time. He is such a fun person to be with. If you live in those part you may sometimes find him hanging around The Butcher’s Dog Pub enjoying his beer.
I write this with deep affection and respect. I am not reading it again to edit or improve. Ours is friendship I cherish and hope it flourishes in the coming years. I also hope we see some of his recent individual work published and read.
I always tell him that the World of British Science Fiction needs to recognize and honour him for all the brilliant contribution. I hope that day comes soon.
We are already thinking of Duets 2 and many other things. Meanwhile do read him and you can thank me later. Support his independent publishing project Leaky Boot Press. Buy the excellent books they have published. The link to the website is provided above and you can also find them all on amazon.
You can order Duet, Collection of Chaos and Wayfaring from any online book vendor.
For those in Australia Book Depository is a better option. They have free delivery too.