What fruit is that in the header image? I've heard lemons, kumquat, even lychee – in any case, the significance is that it's from the cover of Final Cut, a new Valley Press collection published this week.
Saleem Peeradina is the first Valley Press author to not be resident in the UK, and the first Indian-born writer published by ourselves too. It's great to break those two boundaries, at once: VP suddenly feels a much bigger operation, and I'm looking forward to the challenge of managing distribution to the US and India. Here's another question for you: how many rupees does a poetry collection go for, nowadays?
Unusually for us, Saleem is a poet with a long and significant career already behind him: in 1972 he was editor of Contemporary Indian Poetry in English, still used in universities today; he has published four previous collections, one with Oxford University Press (when they were a force in British poetry); his memoir The Ocean in My Yard was published by Penguin in 2005, and he's currently 'Emeritus Professor of English' at a university in Michigan.
That doesn't get anyone a free ride though: his poetry still had to pass through my 'submissions panel', and if I remember correctly they unanimously loved it. You can read the opening poem on our website here, a wildly imaginative piece called 'The Lesson' – I was sold on that alone, but I'll include another of the bird-related poems at the end of this email so you can get a further taste.
As I mentioned last week, birds are a key subject in Final Cut (making it an ideal present for viewers of BBC's Springwatch, which my wife, mother and cat are all glued to at the moment.) The others are fruit, the human body, and more unexpectedly, inanimate objects – there are monologues from a stapler, a shaving brush, a grater and more. Oh, and I nearly forgot another record set by this book: it's the biggest we've ever published, measuring 9 inches tall by 6 wide, to try and contain the longer lines. So there's another challenge: finding suitable jiffy bags in which to pack it...
I think I've done justice to our newest book now, so I'll close this week's email, first by wishing the Queen and Prince Phillip happy birthday (they are 90 and 95 respectively – my mother insisted this deserved a nod, especially as me and HRH are old pals), and by telling you about a new offer I want to try. It's nothing revolutionary, it's a bundle: any five Valley Press books for £35, with free postage, a real bargain if there are five you've always fancied getting (or if you have a lot of birthdays coming up).
This will be available indefinitely: so if interested, send £35 to email@example.com via PayPal with a list of titles, or post a cheque (and list) to our usual address: Valley Press, Woodend, The Crescent, Scarborough, YO11 2PW. See you next week!
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher
A Rumor of Birdsby Saleem Peeradina
In my sleep, birds stream silently overhead – flocks of them –
wave after wave of a high altitude river unbound
by banks, wings riding the wind, navigating by stars in the pitch
black of night, or the water’s magnetic glaze.
Sometimes, they storm above my roof in a cloudburst
of feathers, squawks, and screams.
One watching through a telescope will see them
scatter like flakes of pepper against lunar light;
but mostly, these night-travelers will pass invisibly, afloat
on a murmur. Before daybreak, they sift down
to settle in the trees or fields to awaken us with their
morning songs. After dusk, they flutter up again to migrate south.
Jays, thrushes, blackbirds, finches, wrens, larks, swallows, tanagers,
warblers, orioles – you live, love, breed, and die at full tilt
claiming only a bit of earth and infinite sky.