I'm writing to you a bit later than usual this week, as I've been out enjoying some unusually warm weather – not a bad excuse! We'll start with a word from Associate Editor Rosa Campbell, who has been busy (again):
This week I’m very very excited to announce the release of Quick, the first collection of poems by Peter Spafford, a professional writer for more than twenty years, and a giant of the Leeds literary scene. Peter’s plays have been performed throughout the country and on the radio, and he is currently Director of Spoken Word at East Leeds FM as well as being a founder member of the band Schwa (look out for Threshold, their touring performance).
Somehow, on top of all that, he’s also managed to write a truly wonderful poetry collection. Exhibiting a bold playfulness with language and a stunning lightness of touch, the poems in Quick explore topics as diverse as the Yorkshire landscape, the joys and despairs of parenthood, and the surreal escapades of a horse in Tesco. They are rich, funny, and often breathtakingly poignant. And, uh, not to get overexcited, but Andrew McMillan – winner of the Guardian First Book Award 2015 for the incredible Physical – loves this book (see the front cover for proof!)
According to Ralph Dartford of A Firm of Poets, ‘these poems demand to be read aloud, as well as in solitude,’ so count yourselves lucky, because this Friday you have an opportunity to hear Peter himself read from Quick! We’re celebrating the launch at HEART in Headingley, Leeds, along with guest poet Anne Caldwell (of Cinnamon Press) – and you’re all invited! It’s going to be an unmissable evening. Full details are available here. Hope to see you there!
Having just re-read the collection myself, I can confirm it is as great as everyone says. Peter has felt like part of the Valley Press team for several years now – as he welcomed an endless stream of VP authors onto his radio show – and it's great to welcome him officially to 'the family' this week.
Talking of radio shows, I hope you all tuned in to hear Kelley Swain on 'Start the Week' last Monday? If not, we have the answer here on the BBC iPlayer – discussion of her forthcoming book The Naked Muse begins 28 minutes in, but it's all worth listening to if you're a fan of the arts (most of them get a mention).
My favourite bit of discussion was when Kelley was asked the difference between nude and naked; to paraphrase, she suggested that when you're posing for a painting without wearing any clothes, you are nude ... if you're having a cup of tea afterwards and still haven't put your clothes on, you're just naked. (But 'The Nude Muse' doesn't have the same ring to it, I think we can agree.)
It's been a while since I've given you money off a Valley Press book in these newsletters, so it's time to put that right; albeit in a somewhat unusual fashion. When we printed Malene Engelund's The Wild Gods, we received hundreds of perfect copies, but also ten where the 'textblock' was inserted the wrong way round (so the cover is upside-down). These have sat on my shelf since then, but this week I'd like to offer you the chance to buy one, at 30% off the usual price – so if you add the book to your basket, and use the code WONKYGODS at checkout, you'll receive one of these ultra-limited-edition copies. Move fast though, there really are only ten!
I'm going to end this week by promoting a book we didn't publish – such things do exist, it turns out. The brilliant poetry organisation Live Canon invited 154 modern poets to write 154 new poems, each responding to one of Shakespeare's sonnets, and have now published the results in a book. A dozen of the 154 were poets from our own stable, and it's filled with other familiar names, doing great work – don't spend all your poetry-buying dollars on 154, but you have my permission to spend some. (That may not happen again, so make the most of it.)
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher