Bolt released by Gabriola poet Hilary Peach

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, July 24 2018

After 30 years of writing poetry, and producing events, and bringing the written word to the people, Hilary Peach has finally published a book.

Bolt, published by Anvil Press, will be launched on July 28 at The Centre, located at 1475 Peterson Road.

Just in time for Peach’s 50th birthday.

Why so long to put her work into a book?

Peach said, “I’ve been asking the same thing.

“One answer is I write slowly - I joke that I write one poem a year, after 30 years, I have enough for a book.”

Another reason, she explained, is that a lot of she has written depart from ‘the page.’

“The book is an assemblage of poems, but also has scores from performance pieces, poems that were turned into stage shows, or commissions, or dance pieces.

“It’s a mixture of interdisciplinary pieces I’ve done over the years - a compilation of work from a whole bunch of projects.”

So is this a ‘Greatest Hits’ collection?

“Sure, but I didn’t say that.”

“I joke, but in reality, but I’m careful about what I allow to be seen - so this is the culmination of all of that time.”

The timing of it coming out for her 50th Birthday was, “coincidental, but also synchronistic.

“I turn 50, and then release my first book. It also means I can have cake at the book launch. Which is the most important part.”

Peach’s full-time ‘job’ is as a boilermaker/welder.

She’s also a blacksmith.

Being in a trade though, has not delayed her publication of her work.

The writing, “has always run parallel.

“But being in a trade means I’ve never had to rely on my creative life to make a living, and that was deliberate. So I have an autonomy in my creative life, which is a privilege a lot of artists don’t have.”

Gabriola Performance Poet Hilary Peach. 
Photo by Bill Pope with Blair Mann’s assistance

The book is set up in four sections - one of those sections is about welding and boilermaking; another is about snakes; another has a western theme; and one is early lyrical and philosophical pieces. Thinking pieces as Peach described.

Most of the work that has gone into the work was done by Peach herself.

“I knew, this is the thing, I’ve lived with these pieces for my whole artistic life.

“So I’m very familiar with them - and I knew what I wanted to include  and what I didn’t want to include.

“So it was more a manner of assembling a collection of pieces which have been alive for many years. It spans a period of time.”

Peach worked with Brian Kaufman at Anvil Press, who she describes as generous and very helpful in terms of copy editing. A lot of the pieces included have existed for a long time, they didn’t take a lot of editing, they were all fully formed.

“It was more about assembling what I’m hoping will be considered a beautiful collection. 

“I’m really happy with it - I think that’s why it took 30 years, is I wanted to make a book where I was happy with every single piece.”

She said there will be another book coming out - when her manuscript for Bolt was accepted, the publisher asked her to do a second, a collection of essays.

“This one will be creative non-fiction, which will deal with 20 years of being a boilermaker, and working on the road, and other aspects of life. Hopefully that comes out next year.”

Part of the launch party will also be something of a first for Peach.

“I’ve produced around 300 artists on the island, and I’ve never done an actual feature reading - because I always produced other people. 

“I’m looking forward to that, it will be very fun. A solo set for the first time on the island.”

The launch will be at The Centre - previously owned by the late Antony Holland.

Peach said the new owners, Rebecca and Gary Holbrook will be there for the launch.

“Come down and meet the new owners, they’re really cool. The Centre is cool. It’s the only dedicated performance space in the South End.”

She said PC Vandall was trying to put together some bio information for Peach, and had asked what Peach would want to say about her work.

“What I’d want someone to say, is that I dedicated a lot of creative life to carving out safe spaces for artists to do things, and that I value courage, I think courage in art is essential. For artists to do risky performances.

“As a producer I want it to be a space for people to try things. Whether it is successful or not. Being amazing is less important than someone having an opportunity to try something they’ve never tried before.”

As for the book’s title, it has many definitions.

“It’s measurement of lightning; a fastener that holds everything together; and it’s the impulse to suddenly run out of control. 

“I think it’s safe to say all of those things factor into the text.”

Bolt is available online through Anvil Press, or through Hilary Peach, or at the HIVE Emporium in Folklife Village on Gabriola.