A Lyrical Oasis 25

Posted by in Book Cover Design, Publishing

The original book cover, KH in the Black Mountains of Wales and the bedsit where writing commenced.


April 1997 saw the release of my first book A Lyrical Oasis. Self published and with little promo, it sank without trace. Nonetheless, it will always be my first baby even if it was still born and remains pretty much a ghost in terms of release and sales.

In 2009 I tried again with an e-book but this met a similar fate. I dare say that in some other world it may have been the pop poem hit I envisaged it to be in my naivety but alas I never met the right people and certainly not the right publisher.

A grim day in Newport as viewed from the bedsit.


Lyrical as it’s colloquially known is a collection specifically written as a poetry book, meaning the work is a near sequential flow – like a concept album –¬†owing much to the art and music that then inspired me (David Bomberg, Cocteau Twins, Peter Kingsbery among others).

Writing commenced in a tiny bedsit – very much the starving artists garret – in Newport (South Wales) during autumn 1993 and finished in either spring or summer 1996 (coinciding exactly with my arts degree at University of Wales). There was to be no rush and it was always called A Lyrical Oasis – I have no idea where the title came from but it has no connection to the Brit-rock band in vogue at the time.

The two part Cycles came fairly late on, though the title poem which concludes the running order dates from May 1994. Finally, the book was housed in artwork by Japanese artist Shinro Ohtake as I always had a thing for Japan (the country and the band).

Of the latter it was in fact a Steve Jansen poem which inspired my own Drive which later became Immerse. Though I settled on the title and artwork early on, alternatives were considered including one based on a Paul Rand design.

images for a sleeve art revision.


Does it hold up today? Sometimes I read it and feel proud, other times I’m appalled by its naivety; I think it’s maybe a good example of engineering than poetry. How to write and construct a book, Lyrical is a problem solved.

From the press release…
Lyrical features pieces like Napier 1982, Still Dance and Like Vorticists and carries many themes: love, politics, seasons and travel. This (reissue) serves to the curious a bookmark of where Hayes was at the time and will hopefully evoke some beautiful imagery with it.

A 20th anniversary edition with revised artwork is now available, buy A Lyrical Oasis here.


Thanks for reading here, should you be interested in my work; principally writing, photography, and teaching, check out the MEDIA page, and/or the UNIVERSITY page for my teaching ethos. 

Meanwhile, stay tuned with things here at Kulture Kiosk via THE ATLAS or on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram where you can see some of my photos from around the world.

The Gift – Annie Lennox
Satellite – Icehouse
Tarantula – This Mortal Coil
They Dance Alone – Sting
Just When You’re Having Fun – Cock Robin
Bluer Than Midnight – The The
Leaving This Place – Wally Badarou

Photo Credit: The shot of me in the Black Mountains was taken by Lee Pugh.