Sunday 17 April 2016

This week at Valley Press: 'Coming and going'

Dear readers,

I'm going to call it: this is the busiest thirty days in the entire history of Valley Press. Things are hectic, to say the least – schedules have conspired to see us delivering a new book to you every week, starting with Shenanigans this past Thursday, and ending with a book called Quick on May 12th. Up next is Homecoming, and here's what on-duty Associate Editor Rosa Campbell has to say about it:

This week sees the release of the second Valley Press book I’ve overseen, the wonderful Homecoming by Joanna Ezekiel. I reckon I captured the spirit of this excellent collection in the description I wrote for the website, so let’s take a look:

“By necessity, to come home is to look with fresh eyes at what is familiar. Joanna Ezekiel’s exquisite second collection captures this experience with a combination of quiet observation and vivid sensuality. She draws on her British Jewish upbringing and Indian Jewish heritage to explore what it means to belong – to a family, to a country, to a culture – in poems that sing with warmth and generosity. Playful juxtapositions of characters and landscapes create a sense of the unexpected, and her treatment of the past is as subtle as her commentary on the present. Evocative and tender, Homecoming is a collection that invites the reader into an unfamiliar place and makes them feel at home.”

Yeah, not bad, me. In all seriousness, though, this is a fantastic book, including poems that wouldn’t look out of place next to the greats of contemporary British poetry (think Moniza Alvi meets Grace Nichols meets – somehow – Pride & Prejudice). It also features cameos from Roger Moore, Jean Rhys, and George Osborne, among others. Prizes for anyone who spots a certain infamous ex-PM, as well.*

Alright, enough gushing. I need to get my mind back on all the exciting forthcoming VP titles that I’m responsible for. I’m currently working on the anthology of entries to the Remember Oluwale Writing Prize which, I cannot stress enough, is going to be the most incredible and affecting collection of new writing, and with which I’m so honoured and excited to be involved. Also coming soon, a truly brilliant debut collection from Peter Spafford, whose touring performance Threshold is coming to Scarborough in a couple of weeks! Phew, it’s all go, and it’s all good.

*There may or may not actually be prizes.

I'll add to that: there's a launch event for Homecoming on Tuesday 26th in York, from 7pm, at the Oxfam Bookshop on Micklegate (not High Petergate!) Joanna will be there, as well as me and Rosa, and there will be sets from our own Oz Hardwick and the equally great Amina Alyal. Facebook event here, if you'd like to RSVP.

Rosa also mentioned a touring performance called Threshold, which is coming to Woodend (our Scarborough HQ) on the 5th May. I highly recommend this event, which includes songs, stories and actual hospitality; everyone involved is hugely talented, and it has been organised by one of the best creative companies working in the north. You can find out more here, and see the FB event here.

Two great bits of press for VP books this week: first, an interview with Michael Stewart in the Yorkshire Evening Post, which is essential reading for any fans of his short story collection Mr Jolly. (Apologies to those who've ordered that book in the last few days, by the way; we've run out, so need to get some more stock, meaning your orders will arrive late – good news for us, not so much for you!)

Second, I was pleased to see the London Review Bookshop giving a huge plug for Reward for Winter on Instagram – see here. They say it's 'one of the most exciting collections of the year', and from people who spend as much time with books as they do, that means a lot. I also hear the book has spent some time at the sharp end of the 'Poetry Bestsellers' list on Amazon, which as we know, is where fortunes are made...

This Friday I will be setting off for the town of Much Wenlock, where (you may remember) me and Emma will be 'Publishers in Residence' at the world-famous Wenlock Poetry Festival. You can read more about what we are doing there on the festival's website, which also includes the chance to book a one-on-one session to pick our brains about all things publishing-related. If you do book one with me, please be kind – I'll be a long way from home!

Due to the aforementioned hectic-ness, I didn't have time to write my fifth 'behind the scenes' article this week, but hopefully I'll get to that soon. Next Sunday's newsletter will be coming to you 'live' from Wenlock (in that I'll be trying to write it whilst 'in residence'), so be sure to give it a read – should be interesting.

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

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