Yesterday's launch of Nick Whittock's book “Covers” was once again, in the tradition of COD launches, a novel one. Despite our earlier suggestions to the contrary, the books themselves failed to arrive, meaning that we were compelled to hold a virtual launch, complete with proof copies (which, in and of themselves, represent a kind of fine art object, a kind of White album) and a looseleaf cover.

While we were of course hugely disappointed not to be able to hand over the finished product (which we can guarantee looks absolutely marvellous), the show must go on and so it did. As Collected Works guru Kris Hemensley commented, surely this is not the first time such a fate has befallen a small press launch. Another punter sympathised, saying the same thing had happened to him once – at his own launch. Finally Michael Farrell wisely advised me to “let it go” and just get on with things. And so we did.

Approximately thirty five poetry (and cricket) lovers came along to the Victorian Writers Centre to hear Nick read his poetry, enjoy a beer or two and delight at the dulcet tones of Oliver Mann, whose criminally short set sent goosebumps up the spine. It was a rare treat, and we thank Oliver for his efforts.

Next up was “the Master” himself, Nick Whittock, who performed some of his best-loved poems (“re mission”, “spin”, “record 9th wicket partnership”) against a backdrop of sleepy cricketers, in powerpoint formation. Listeners were then treated to “the poem you're all here to hear”, the devastating epic “Doosra Locomotion” – one of two unreleased poems in the “Covers” collection.

Throughout his reading, Nick tore pages from the proof copy of the book, scrunched them up into balls which he then bowled into the audience. Farrell took a great catch at mid-on, while other chances went begging. Considering Nick's recent wrist injury, it was no surprise, sadly, that we did not witness Nick's own doosra in motion.

All in all, it was a really fun launch. We'll be holding a second launch on the NSW south coast (Nick's spiritual heartlands) on Saturday 15th January. For Melbourne fans who missed out on seeing Nick live, you will have another opportunity at the St Kilda Writers Festival in early February. More details, as usual, to come.


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