The Happy Farang (2012)

In 2012, as part of a weird burst of activity, I decided to reissue The Happy Farang, my first self-published chapbook.

I had self-published The Happy Farang in 2000, at a time when I was just finding my feet, both literally and figuratively, as a poet. One version of the story of how that book ‘appeared’ ended up in my PhD thesis, but the real story remains (for the moment) untold.

In 2012, I cleaned up and reformatted the text (which was originally coloured blue, by mistake) and added some scans of original (mostly unpublished) handwritten drafts.

I also produced a new cover for the book, featuring a photograph of a figure painted on a temple that I took, from memory, in Chiang Mai. Just to, you know, seal the cultural appropriation deal.

The drafts included in the digital version are for the poems ‘happy farang/amazing farang’, ‘monk-lovers’, ‘folk song don’t stop’, ‘sea gypsies’ (incomplete), ‘the reggae house’, ‘hi-fi walkam CL 931’ and ‘under the pavement laos’. These drafts hopefully give an idea of the creative process involved when writing while travelling.

The Happy Farang, original draft.
A scan of the original handwritten draft that would become ‘The Happy Farang’. Written in Thailand in 1999.

As The Happy Farang is also a white-label production, there is only one print copy of the book in existence. The handwritten drafts in the white label version differ from the digital version. They include ‘folk song don’t stop’, ‘sea gypsies’, ‘the reggae house’ and ‘hi-fi walkam CL 931’ as well as three additional poems: ‘leaves give way to needles’, ‘takraw monkey’ and ‘how’s the serenity’.

I can’t actually remember why I changed the selection for the digital version. It could be that the white-label version was really just a test printing. This could explain why I was experimenting with the insertion of scanned images.

But as far as I can tell, all of the original handwritten drafts are now lost. If and when I do find them again, I might post them online.

In any case, The Happy Farang will always be my favourite book, and I hope that the revised edition manages to preserve some of the flavour of the original.

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