Friday, 22 September 2017

This week at Valley Press, #73: 'Them bones'

Dear readers,

This week I'm pleased to introduce you to a new face: Caroline Hardaker with her debut pamphlet Bone Ovation. Caroline submitted during our now-infamous 2016 submissions period, the one with the 20,000 leaflets that asked 'have you got a book in you?' She had, it turns out, and her book is the first of those 600 submissions to make it onto bookshelves. All three October publications are from that enormous pile, with a half-dozen more coming in 2018. (November's publications are special cases, more about them in due course).

Without any particular hooks or publicity angles to speak of, and as the work of a 'new' author, Bone Ovation soared to the top of the pile purely on the strength of Caroline's poetry. I won't say any more about it (for fear of over-doing expectations!) but I will let you see a couple of poems. Here goes:

The Rains

Each raindrop contains a soul
I’m told, and sleet is nought
but the urgent need of the dead to meet
their loved ones once more in the mortal world.
To stroke their skin, to leave a living trace;
a tear drop – a thin, translucent meridian.

My grandmother never used an umbrella
and would tip back her head and eat the rain.
She said it made her feel alive again.

The Woman is Like the Picasso

You’ll not know her, she looks to the side
all eyes
a spectrum of illicit shades
hair all quantum in sharp directions
but swooning around the face
a moon, in carven perfection,
radiating with flowering action
and reaction
a myriad of connections between
the dazzling colours she’s made.

See that fierce pride under bashful eyes?

Even Picasso couldn’t capture it.
He tried
through abstract and dreams
to channel by subconscious
a force too violent
a face too vibrant to lay down
and his mind filled with it
and fell
warped flat.
Her form so potent for creation
it was like painting the rain in clouds,
lightning waiting.

She is facing away, but she is looking.

Though not officially published until 5th October, we're selling Bone Ovation now – copies are here, we figured we may as well! It's already a fairly reasonable £6.99, and remember that newsletter subscribers get 10% off all our books forever; you lucky souls. If you'd like to read a few more poems (including a great one about feet), head here.

Now then: this coming week is a busy one, so you may want to get your diaries out. You'll remember that if you're in York on Saturday 30th, there's an Oz Hardwick launch event and in Hull there's John Wedgwood Clarke. Also in Hull that day (Thursday to Sunday in fact), Valley Press is taking part in a book fair organised by the BBC as part of their 'Contains Strong Language' festival. It's in Hull College, in the Horncastle Building. Myself and Jo Haywood are hoping to be there on Thursday, and I'll likely be back on Sunday if it's as exciting as I expect – but VP books will be there for the four days.

Also on Saturday 30th, this time in London, we'll be at the Free Verse Poetry Book Fair. I'll be manning the stall most of the day, except for a lunch break; and between 11.30 and 12, when seven of our Yorkshire Anthology poets will be sharing their poems with a packed audience in the Brockway Room. Do pop and see that if you're going to the PBF, and of course, come for a chat with me and Emma at our shared table.

Adding some extra excitement to the week (which is clearly needed), Thursday 28th is National Poetry Day, which means there'll be some kind of poetry event near you, for certain. NPD have taken our Yorkshire Anthology under their wing this year, listing it as an official recommendation (see their write-up here). Which was nice of them!

Finally, you can now see John Wedgwood Clarke's BBC programme Through the Lens of Larkin on iPlayer here; yet another way for you to celebrate poetry this week. If you're reading this as someone who doesn't like poetry (I hear such people do exist), I'd first say: give it a chance? And second, don't give up on us ... we have a mammoth non-fiction book coming before the year is out, and all kinds of novels next year. There's always another book around the corner at Valley Press!

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

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