Sunday, 5 June 2016

This week at Valley Press: 'I offer this material'

Dear readers,
This week I've been really busy – I know I always say that, but with events on in three cities, and me manning the book stall at most, I've hardly had a minute to myself! See below for a taste of the festivities: first, Ian Duhig and SJ Bradley announcing the winners at the Remembering Oluwale launch; then, a fully-clothed Kelley Swain reading from The Naked Muse at an event celebrating that book.

After Kelley's launch, I found myself re-reading her first Valley Press book Opera di Cera – a dark, gothic verse drama about wax modellers in the 18th-century – and realising how much that book also has to say about modelling for art, through the character of Teresa. She observes, whilst posing for a class:

They do not feel the sweat in the crook of my underarm.
They do not hear the purr in my belly as lunchtime nears, and passes.

And later:

Nude, not bare. Each sense is quickened, cloaked in stimuli: warm sunlight in afternoon, pungent linseed fumes, the whisper of a rinsed brush, the kiss of bristles to canvas, the mingling of oils upon wooden palettes.
When one paints my arm, birthmark, a breast, I know. I feel the weight of his mind on it. I offer this material, feel their eyes on my figure, stand in for saint or goddess.

Readers of The Naked Muse will recognise those situations continuing into the 21st century. If you enjoyed Kelley's latest book, and fancy a trip to the murky world of Renaissance Florence (and you love intense, intricately written verse dramas – who doesn't?) then give Opera di Cera a try; have £3 off this week with the discount code OPDI. It's a lovely item, as you can see below:

I don't have any other news for you, except to say I've appreciated your replies to my call for your favourite Valley Press poems of all time (for a possible anthology). If you'd like to mention a poem that particularly jumped out for you, please do let me know. So far, title poems and collection-opening poems are doing well; but I think we can go deeper!

See you next week, when I hope to introduce another new book – one with an abiding interest in birds, fruits, and everyday objects.

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

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