Titled Of Life and Love, first-time author Kiona Assing's book has been issued.
The poetry book was launched in Tobago on Friday last week at the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort after readings at the House of Creative People in Marabella on March 21 and the Maloney Public Library on March 25.
Speaking with Newsday, Assing, who uses the pen name Abby Kay, said the book delves into a spectrum of emotions, “From your highest highs to your lowest lows....everything that has been experienced in the book has been filtered through a lens of strong emotions and love; whether it's platonic love all the way up to romantic love and its separated into two segments: life and love.”
She said the book is one that many can relate to.
“That is something that poetry is supposed to do, it is supposed to reach you. A piece that might be excellent for one person or it might be wildly acclaimed, it may not reach you personally where you are, but that doesn’t mean that poetry is not for you and that poetry cannot be related to you. I would like to think, And I pride myself on thinking that this book is poetry that you can relate to, no matter what level you’re at or what space you’re in personally.”
She said some of the pieces in the 98-page book were written approximately eight years ago, but as the covid19 pandemic rolled on and people were forced to stay at home, she found herself attending a lot of virtual poetry readings and doing a lot of writing.
“When I realised that my body of works had enough pieces that I can put out a book and the book still be around a specific topic, I decided, why not? I did have enough that I could put out a work and as it has always been a dream of mine, it was just ticked as another dream fulfilled.”
She added: “My father has always told me that I have violent mood swings...because I go from on a real high to a real low, and so those intense emotions, they always needed a way to come out. And one of the ways they came out for me was, I would just write it down. Sometimes I would write it down and I would never process the emotions, I would never get back to it, but you write it down to get it out – years later you come and you look back at it, sometimes weeks later – and you realise this is what I was feeling, this is how I reacted. Of course, some of them I thought were good to go forward.”
She warns: “I would not recommend the book for children: there is some adult language and slightly adult situations – I do market it as an adult book, and the launches have been censored."
She also considered her marketing strategy.
“I’ve tried very hard to keep the book affordable, mainly because you look at the market – the point is to reach as many people as possible, it's not just to make as much as possible. I know my key readers, they would read; I don’t want to kill anyone with price, and I don’t want to withhold the work from anybody else’s reach.”
The book is published by Scarlet Ibis Publishing House Ltd, which she herself has set up, “not only to publish my own works, but in future take on some other local authors and help them get published. We would be taking on new authors probably from next year, as this year, we’re focusing on what we have and growing and expanding our reach and make sure we have a distribution channel that we really can help local authors to get away from just their one or two channels – we’re trying to expand that market."
Local publishers, she says, "tend to stay away from poetic works or other similar types. They tend to drift towards educational books only, because that’s what sells in TT. But that’s what we’re hoping to change and we’re hoping to get people back into a lifestyle of reading and expressing themselves.
“For 2021, I’ve decided that I’m putting forward no fewer than five books, this being the first.”
Her advice to people interested in writing poetry is “write it down.”
“Put it down. You don’t have to show anybody if you don’t want to – it doesn’t matter if it's good enough for anybody to see, all it needs to be is good enough for you. As long as you can express yourself and you find this as a way to express yourself, you go forward, and you do that.
"There is a piece of advice all writers get – you can edit a bad page, you can’t edit a blank page. So whether you decide later on to be an author, or you decide, I’m not going to pursue this – you write. Get your story told.”
The book is available on Amazon and will be available at local bookstores and boutiques including the House of Creative People in Marabella, Nigel R Khan Booksellers nationwide and at Cards and Things TT at the Magdalena Grand Beach and Golf Resort in Tobago for $75.