Friday, 1 August 2014

Valley Press Friday Digest, #14

Hello again, readers. It's time for another of my 'weekly digests', and I'd like to follow the format of last week's post exactly, if it's all the same to you - announce a 2015 book, share a couple of minor bits of news, and finish with another poem from Helen Burke's new collection (probably the last one I'll share - I want to leave some mystery to it!)

Photo by Marcos Avlonitis
  • In March 2015 Valley Press will publish Seahouses, the first collection of poetry by noted medical historian Richard Barnett, pictured to your right. Think you've heard that name somewhere before? Richard contributed two poems to our Pocket Horizon anthology, so he's the second PH 'alumnus' to graduate to own-book status (after Kelley Swain) - and perhaps not the last. You may also have heard of his book The Sick Rose: Disease and the Art of Medical Illustration, published this year to rave reviews (including by Will Self in The Guardian, who said the writing was 'superbly erudite and lucid' - I'm still pondering whether I can use that comment on the Seahouses back cover!) When Richard sent me his manuscript, my expectations were pretty high, and he exceeded them by miles - it's exceptionally good. I'll just give you one line for now, as a tease: 'tomorrow we will keep bees for all the wrong reasons'.

  • If you want to read an even lengthier blog post by me today (and why wouldn't you?), the Young Poets Network have posted an interview I did for them in May. I must stress that the questions are all from different people, which is why they're so random - several people have commented to me that the interviewer has quite an odd approach, thus necessitating a patient explanation by me of exactly what the deal was there.

  • A short, fair review of John Wedgwood Clarke's In Between appeared this week, by Greg Freeman on Write Out Loud - you can read that here. He calls it 'modest but enjoyable', which may not make it onto the cover for the reprint, but is quite a nice thing to say.

  • Sarah Holt was interviewed this week for Woman magazine, about the experience of writing and launching Love and Eskimo Snow. The interview is set to appear in the August 12th issue, so make sure you grab one - as I certainly won't be scanning it and posting here (wink wink).

  • And so to end, another poem from Helen Burke's forthcoming collection Here's Looking at You Kid, which I've just finished typesetting - hoping to go to print next week. My head is full of these poems at the moment, which is why I keep posting them... in the hope that they will take residence in your brains too. This is perhaps the funniest one (there's some serious stuff too - but you don't want that on a Friday night!)

French Cat in French Window

So. I am a French cat in a French window and you
are just passing by – you take my photograph –
why wouldn’t you? – because I am beautiful.
I am beautiful – and you are English – that’s how the cookie crumbles – yes, life can be unfair. Life can be a dog.
I am licking my arse – and I am still beautiful – don’t try
it yourself. I can’t be responsible for hospital bills.
I am a French cat in a French window – you are on your
way to – how you say it – Yorkshire?
I am on my way to Montmartre to buy a little sardine
on a bed of couscous – perhaps a little wine, if the year
she seems a good one. You look very pale – as if
your whole world, she is not coloured in and has no
way of turning the other cheek – and looking up at the moon
and singing in the night. At midnight.
That is when the French cat comes to life.
I myself run a little café in the Bois de Boulogne. I even
let a few English sit at the tables there. But, at this moment
I am cleaning my bottom – with the care of an artiste –
and you take my photograph.
I feel a little sorry for you – but even so, as you click your camera
I will turn my arse right around to face you.
This is – how you call it? –
the French Resistance.

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