Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Emma Press Newsletter #38: End-of-year newsflash

#38: End-of-year newsflash

Hello everyone,
The Emma Press won at the Michael Marks Awards last week! Unbelievably, the judges gave us the £5000 Publishers' Award, commenting:
'The Emma Press has grown steadily in the few years since they were first shortlisted. As well as having a remarkable list of poets they pay close attention to every aspect of the pamphlets they publish. This is a vibrant, thoughtful press bringing a great energy and sense of endeavour to their work.'
We are quite beside ourselves with joy about this recognition of all our hard work and the calibre of the poets we publish. The financial boost is also very welcome, and I'm looking forward to going out for a fancy dinner with Rachel to celebrate.
The announcement took place at the British Library. There was an official photographer in attendance, so I thought I'd do a little photo story about the evening for you, below. [All images © Tony Grant.]
The shortlisted publishers had to give a 3-minute speech before the winner was announced, and I took the opportunity to talk about diversity in publishing. I've posted in on the blog, so you can read it if you'd like to get the full experience of the evening. Also on the blog, you can also read Jamie-from-Valley-Press's lovely reaction to the news.

Here's Rachel and me at the photocall right at the start of the evening. The photographer said 'Not you again!' when he saw us, which was sweet.

After the drinks reception up on the 3rd floor, we moved down to the exhibition space for the dinner. It's huge and there were over 100 people there.

At the dinner, I was sat next to Michael McGregor, the director of the Wordsworth Trust. He was lovely to talk to, so I managed to forget my nerves about my speech during the dinner. Then the speeches began and before long it was my turn. I was worried about how it would be received, but the audience was very supportive and even burst into applause after the second paragraph! I always worry about speaking too quietly, so I tried my best to project. Rachel told me afterwards that the microphone was clearly very sensitive, as my speech had emerged at a deafening volume from the speakers.

I'd got myself so worked up about giving the speech that I was really relieved when it was over and I could sit down. Then, they announced that we were the winners and it was utterly astonishing. Rachel went up with me to collect the cheque from Lady Marks, which was good because it was a long walk round to the stage from where we were sitting and it was nice to have the company.

I looked pretty serious during my speech, because I wanted to deliver it with the appropriate amount of gravitas, but this all crumbled after we won. I hadn't prepared a speech in case we won, so I just said thank you and got off the stage as quickly as possible.

Here we are making our way back to our seats. I think my continued shock and confusion is quite apparent!

With all that over, we could sit back and enjoy the readings from the shortlisted poets. For the first time, one of the poets was ours: Camille Ralphs, reading from Malkin. She gave a stunning, spine-chilling performance and we felt incredibly proud of her. It was a lovely end to the evening, as it meant that everyone in the room got to see the kind of work we publish.

Submissions Update

Open calls for submissions

None currently. We'll open our next call for submissions in early 2017, once we have replied to all the 2016 submissions. I will give newsletter subscribers a sneak preview of some of next year's subjects in January.

Closed calls for submissions

* Rachel and I have made our selection for POEMS ABOUT AUNTS and we will be sending out our responses from now until Friday. If you can't find your response by the end of Friday, feel free to drop us an email in the new year and we'll forward it on to you again.
* Our call for POEMS ABOUT ANIMALS closed on Sunday 4th December 2016 and we are no longer accepting entries. Anja and Liane will be sending our their responses in the new year and everyone will have heard by the end of January 2017.
* Our call for poems about British and Irish KINGS AND QUEENS closed on 13th November and we are no longer accepting entries. We aim to send our responses by the end of February 2017.
This is a complete update on all of our calls for submissions, and we do send responses to everyone's submissions individually. In the meantime, just keep an eye on our newsletters for news of our progress and read our blog to find out what we do when we process submissions.
That's all for now! Do forward this newsletter onto your friends if you think they might enjoy it, or encourage them to sign up themselves here. Ooh, and HAPPY CHRISTMAS! 
Best wishes,

Emma Wright
Publisher at the Emma Press

Sunday, 18 December 2016

This week at Valley Press, #39: 'Reading material'

Dear readers,

Yesterday our 'reading group' gathered at Woodend to look at all the submissions you sent in during 2016. The header image above shows only one sixth of the envelopes we received – whoah. I don't know exactly how many there are, but it must be several hundred. Thanks so much for taking the time, buying the stamp (and book, if you didn't just stumble upon an entry form!), and trusting us with your precious creations; having now looked at each one myself, I can report there wasn't a single entry that would have embarrassed us if we published it. No time-wasters. Just a lot of very sincere and talented writers, from which I must choose a half-dozen to take forward into book form.

I am some way towards having a shortlist, but not quite there yet – at time of writing I haven't contacted a single person to let them know the result. I will be, though; you'll definitely hear from me before too long (within a month?) Sending positive emails and talking to excited prospective authors may be the best part of the job, while telling the other 99% they didn't make it may be the worst ... so naturally I'm hoping Mrs McGarry will help with that second part. (She gets all the glamorous tasks.)

This week saw the launch of Guests of Time, at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. I didn't attend personally, but it looks like an amazing venue – where else do you get the backdrop pictured below? (That's Kelley Swain in the foreground, photo by Amo Spooner. Almost a 'second presidential debate' vibe going on...)

A few people have commented that they're interested in the book, which includes poems from Kelley, John Barnie, Steven Matthews and various historical figures – but find the £24.99 price a bit off-putting. 'Hey Jamie, why is it so pricey?' they cry. Well, it's a hardback (with ribbon marker and all the trimmings), featuring 18 fantastic, creative, full-colour photographs printed on the best paper I could find; and it's a limited edition, I've only printed 200 and won't be doing any more to that standard. Plus, I've just re-activated the code that gets you £5 off, until the end of the year – just enter OXFORD at the basket.

I like to think we price fairly here at VP: Norah Hanson's Sparks, also launched this week (at the same time we were reading the submissions), is only £7.99, as it's a paperback containing nothing more than black words on cream paper ... in a format I plan to keep reprinting until the cows come home! Norah's debut collection, produced in my first year of professional publishing, has been reprinted seven times, so there's a lot to live up to.

Talking of printing: I've now taken legal advice in the infamous case of the Antony Dunn hardbacks (where I was led repeatedly astray, paid the offending company in full, but still haven't got them). In an official letter, I gave the printers a firm deadline of Wednesday, or else, so let's hope they meet that ... giving us a slim chance to find an open post office and get them to patient pre-orderers before the sun sets on 2016. (By the way: please place all Christmas orders by Wednesday lunchtime, folks.)

I'm going to finish this week's newsletter, and indeed the year's correspondence, with some very good news – on Tuesday, The Emma Press won the Michael Marks Award for best pamphlet publisher (after being shortlisted repeatedly in the past). You'll know me and Emma share this blog, and you can read the inspirational speech she gave on winning here; you may not know that she's one of my all-time heroes, not just in publishing but in the world generally. I don't know anyone who works harder, and stays so kind and positive (an old word would be 'chipper'), whilst doing more good for the literary community.

People say 'oh that Jamie McGarry, he's so enthusiastic about publishing' – and I am, of course – but compared to Emma I'm a cynical old grump. She's a legend! Tributes have been pouring in on Twitter, and hopefully this will be the moment when the Emma Press slips into the mainstream artistic consciousness of the UK. Check out her books, if by some miracle this is the first you're hearing of her. (We love Rachel Piercey too, of course.)

Next Sunday is Christmas Day, it turns out, so I'll be firmly off-duty ... but I might find a little something to pop on the blog. Other than that, I'll be taking a short break in the new year, but will be back before long for another amazing, exhausting programme of potentially award-winning new literature. I've got a good feeling about 2017!

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Emma's speech at the 2016 Michael Marks Awards

The Emma Press won the Publishers' Award at the 2016 Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets! The announcement was made at a special dinner held at the British Library on Tuesday 13th December, and I'm still reeling from the shock. It's thrilling to get this kind of recognition this early on, and it means a huge amount to me to have our pamphlet programme highlighted in this way.

The life of a very small press publisher can be quite a solitary one, so I relished the opportunity to spend an evening amongst my industry peers. All the shortlisted publishers had to give a 3-minute presentation about their presses before the winner was announced, so I took the opportunity to talk about something I don't often address publicly but which I think about all the time, as it informs everything I do: diversity in publishing.

You can read the full speech below, and you can see our full range of poetry pamphlets in our webshop.

Emma Wright delivering her speech at the British Library (© Tony Grant)

Emma's speech at the Michael Marks Awards

I'm Emma Wright and I started the Emma Press just over four years ago, after quitting my job at Orion Publishing Group. I never thought I would start my own company, let alone a publishing house, but then – in 2012 – I got tired.

I got tired of seeing men's surnames in the names of the imprints I was working on, and I got tired of looking around the publishing industry and seeing women pretty much everywhere other than at the very top. And I was tired of waiting for other women of colour to rise up the ranks and show me that it was possible, and that this wasn't exclusively a white man's club.

I needed representation in a way that's hard to understand when you're already represented everywhere. I was tired of waiting, so I moved back to my parents' house in Reading, I quit my job and I decided to try and be part of the change.

And now I'm here. I've published 33 poetry books, with 17 more due out next year. I've run two Arts Council-supported poetry tours and, though it's always a financial struggle running an unfunded press full time, my developing sense as an entrepreneur has allowed me to keep the press – and myself – afloat in my new home city of Birmingham.

Rachel Piercey and Emma Wright, after the awards dinner
I've worked with my good friend and brilliant poet and editor Rachel Piercey to champion writers we believe in and produce books which appeal to readers beyond the usual poetry book-buying audiences. We work hard to develop our authors and bring them opportunities, and we're especially proud of our three pamphlet series: the Picks, which are themed and have black and white illustrations; the Pamphlets, which include introductions from other poets as another way in for the reader; and the Art Squares, which are lavishly produced, with full-colour illustrations.

And it's hard. Of course it's hard. I'm running an unfunded poetry publisher, putting books out into a wider cultural conversation that is dominated by vocal, entitled white men, voicing their opinions often without a clue about the toxic state they're contributing to. It's dispiriting, but I'm hopeful that things are changing. Other people are tired too, and I'm seeing more movement now to tackle publishing's lack of diversity.

So, recognition like this means a lot. It's wonderful to be here tonight amongst other poetry-lovers, celebrating the poetry pamphlet, and I want to thank the Michael Marks Awards team for drawing attention to this small but vital part of the poetry ecosystem. Being here tonight, I'm feeling positive about the future.

* * *

The Emma Press Newsletter #37: The Thankful Edition

#37: The Thankful Edition

Hello everyone,
Since the last newsletter I've done three festive markets in Birmingham, met up with or Skyped eight of our twelve new pamphlet authors, and turned thirty.
I spent most of my birthday on my own, at one of the festive markets. This wasn't what I'd expected or hoped for my thirtieth birthday, but it wasn't the worst way to mark the end of my twenties. I am starting to feel proud of myself and my achievements, and my book table at events is a reminder of how I am strong and I get stuff done.
I feel lucky to have the support and trust of my tiny editorial team and all the authors who want to be part of what we do. I also feel thankful to be part of the Birmingham Originals Etsy team, run by my heroes Kirsty and Adrienne at Frilly Industries. Their Winter Makers Market last weekend in the old Municipal Bank building was an astounding success and a tribute to what can be achieved by having a vision and being determined and hard-working as well as really nice.
I loved taking part in the Winter Makers Market and being amongst a community of makers. I felt more at home there than I ever do at gatherings of poetry publishers, and I felt spurred on to take part in the #MeetTheMakerWeek challenge on Instagram, sharing some of the backstory and inner workings of the Emma Press. You can read my posts here
If you're a long-time subscriber, you might notice that the newsletter format has changed a bit. I had some problems with the delivery of my last couple of newletters (you can read the November one here), so I've upgraded to Mailchimp, with all its mind-boggling functionality. Let me know if you spot anything going wrong, such as images not displaying properly.

* * *

E & R & C at the MMAs

The Emma Press has been shortlisted in the Michael Marks Awards for the third year running, so I'll be going along to the awards dinner next Tuesday with my lovely co-editor Rachel Piercey. Excitingly, we'll be joined for the first time by one of our pamphlet poets: Camille Ralphs, author of shortlisted pamphlet Malkin.
You can read what the judges said about us on the Wordsworth Trust website, and you can read Camille's fascinating 'How I Did It' article about one of her poems over on the Poetry School website.

* * *

Perfect Xmas presents

I'm not one to give people the hard sell, but my old Prince's Trust mentor Geeta will be reading this and she'll want to know why I haven't mentioned Christmas presents yet. So, I will casually mention that my webshop is hereand I think poetry books make wonderful gifts.
Moon Juice is a particularly good stocking filler – aimed at children aged 8+ but a delight for all ages really. You can read a glowing review on Playing By The Book, along with an interview with author Kate Wakeling.

* * *

Submissions Update

Open calls for submissions

None currently. We'll launch our next call for submissions in early 2017, once we've replied to all the 2016 submissions. I'll give you all a sneak preview of some of next year's subjects in the January newsletter.

Closed calls for submissions

* Our call for POEMS ABOUT ANIMALS closed on Sunday 4th December 2016 and we are no longer accepting entries. I am Skyping the editors next week and will let you know the ETA for responses in January.
* Our call for poems about British and Irish KINGS AND QUEENSclosed on 13th November and we are no longer accepting entries. We are currently aiming to send our responses by early February.
* Our call for poems for POEMS ABOUT AUNTS ended on 29th May and we are no longer accepting entries. Rachel and I are a little behind on these but we are meeting up to discuss the submissions next week and we will have sent out all the responses by 22nd December 2016.
This is a complete update on all of our calls for submissions, and we do send responses to everyone's submissions individually. In the meantime, just keep an eye on our newsletters for news of our progress and read our blog to find out what we do when we process submissions.

And finally...

* Ticket sales are now open for VERVE, Birmingham's first festival for poetry and spoken word, taking place 16-19th February 2017. You can book places in the various workshops and readings here.
* Congratulations to Rachel Long, winner of the Poetry School diary poems competition! Congratulations also to Cynthia Miller, Ben Bransfield and Marvin Thompson, who have been selected for Primers Volume 2
Rachel Piercey, main editor person at the Emma Press, is teaching a Poetry School course called To Sea in the Sieve: Writing Poems for Children, starting 25th January 2017. You can find all the booking info here.
* Have you made a recommendation for the Ted Hughes Awards yet? They're open till 9th January 2017 and you can read this helpful guide to the kinds of new work in poetry you can recommend.
That's all for now! Do forward this newsletter onto your friends if you think they might enjoy it, or encourage them to sign up themselves here.
Best wishes,

Emma Wright
Publisher at the Emma Press

Thursday, 8 December 2016

This week at Valley Press, #38: 'Sparks'

Dear readers,

What day is it...?

I'm kidding (just). Having been knocked off my feet by a bug at the weekend, I couldn't manage even the smallest apology for a newsletter, so please accept this mid-week special to cover last weekend and the one coming. We'll have one more of these to see out the year, on the 18th, then I may take a short break. There are submissions to read!

The great news today is that our last book of the year is at the printers: we've finally finished 2016, which has encompassed no less than twenty new titles. It's been a longer journey than expected, on a bumpy road, with a few wrong turns, but we've reached the destination safely and with our dignity intact. Any missed stops (like Helen's big book, and the Yorkshire anthology) can be painlessly slotted into next year's adventure.

Our final 2016 book is the third collection by long-time Valley Press poet Norah Hanson, titled Sparks. A lot of you will have got to know Norah and her work over the past five years, to the extent that I really only need to say 'Norah has a new book out' to do my job of selling a heap of copies – but maybe I should try a little harder than that. Her work is wise, funny and always important (but never self-important): there aren't any riddles and literary exercises, just language at its most purposeful, whether that purpose is to make you laugh, cry, think, or all three.

Her first two books are some of our best-sellers, and – in my expert opinion as fan and publisher – this new collection is even better than those two. But don't take my word for it; you can read advice for 'growing old disgracefully' on the website now, and read the whole book for £7.99 ... or less, entering discount code ZAP at the checkout. Plus, there's a launch: visit Hull's Artlink centre at 1.30pm on Saturday 17th December for readings, a hot drink and a mince pie. Can't say fairer than that!

* * * * *

In other news: there's a nice little interview with Di Slaney on the web here, which fans of Reward for Winter will appreciate. Paul Sutherland is reading from his New and Selected Poems in York on December 14th, as part of the legendary 'Speaker's Corner' event – from 7.30pm at the Golden Ball, Cromwell Road. That's one of his first UK readings since the book came out, having been in Canada for a month or two.

On a less positive note, we still haven't got those Antony Dunn hardbacks, despite now having paid the printer in full just to get the matter over with. The latest excuse is that their office is 'closed for maintenance'; very suspect. Worst part is, they actually had me believing they were about to arrive, again – how many times am I going to fall for that?

I think the time to be coy has passed: the name of this printer, now a full month late with delivery, is D&M Heritage Ltd. I suppose they must occasionally complete a job to stay in business, but on this one occasion I have worked with them, they have provided the most abysmal service at every stage. If they'd been paid by an enemy of mine to specifically wind me up, I can't think of anything else they could have done. Please avoid them in future if you're someone who prints books.

And... breathe. Lots to look forward to. Tomorrow, there should be a fairly big full-colour ad for Valley Press books in the TLS (let me know if you spot it!), and even more exciting, I'm heading to a recording studio with Andy Seed to capture Poems for Pensioners in the form of sound, for an audiobook edition (hopefully something we'll be doing more of in future).

Thanks for reading, have a great weekend (I never get to say that!), and I'll be in touch on the 18th – by which point we should have our shortlist for 2017 publications...

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

Sunday, 27 November 2016

This week at Valley Press, #37: 'The Birds Will Sing'

Dear readers,

This time last week, Valley Press had three new books still forthcoming in 2016 – Guests of Time, another poetry collection I've just finished editing, and a book I've previously described as 'the most complicated book I've ever tried to put together'. Now, I only have those first two, as – after much soul-searching – myself and the author have agreed to put release of the 'complicated book' back until mid-February. With one proviso: that I tell you about it today, and kick-off pre-orders!

The book in question has taken no less than forty-seven years to write, with the first poems in it dating from 1969, and the last ones from 2016. If this sounds familiar, it's probably because the thought process was a lot like the one that originated Paul Sutherland's New and Selected – we could have brought out another slim volume by Paul, but what about the forty years of work not currently available? So it was that we came to be publishing Today the Birds Will Sing, the collected poems of veteran Valley Press poet Helen Burke.

My blurb for the book says Helen's poems have appeared 'in pamphlets, on greetings cards, on pieces of origami, on radio, on tape, on CD, on the side of stray dogs and in a million other places' – this is only a very slight exaggeration. Since she first put pen to paper, Helen's poems have escaped into the world by any means they could; the 'origami' publishing happened repeatedly, thanks to Jan Keough's wonderful operation, and when I first met Helen in 2011 there were enough pamphlets in existence to sink a small dinghy.

That's what made it so complex: picture me on my living-room floor, surrounded by all these publications (and pieces of paper), trying to figure out if I've seen a particular poem somewhere else – and what was different about it then! – then passing them to the long-suffering Mrs McGarry to be typed up. But the truth is, I've enjoyed every second of my 'marination' in the world of Burke; there's no bigger fan of her poems (sometimes zany, sometimes poignant, usually both) than me, and I think the day I hold a finished copy of this book will be one of the proudest of my whole career.

I'll share a few poems with you in the new year; for now, I'll just say that the book is beginning its life as a hardback, priced at £30. As ever, we're not money-grabbing monsters, so you can have £6 off if you pre-order with the voucher code BIRDIES, and we are planning a paperback edition to follow later in 2017. (Still no Antony hardbacks by the way, if you're following that saga – but I have now seen one, so the end may be in sight).
* * * * *

Two more things to say today: first, the last subs forms for our 2017 call have now been posted – so the only way you can reliably get them, and get your work into us for the November 30th deadline, is to actually go into VPHQ and collect/fill in/drop off. But don't panic if this is the first you've heard of it – submissions will be open again in February, after I've worked through the current pile and decided the 2017 books.

So now the subs forms are done with, what will you get (besides the book!) if you buy something from us in December? I've got something special in mind, of course – watch this space – but part of it will be a voucher for money off books in January (always a criminally quiet month for booksellers).

Finally, congratulations are due to Richard Askew, the lead designer of our website, who this week was named Scarborough's 'Young Entrepreneur of the Year'. This is a seriously smart and dedicated dude; I've seen him run into the office at 10pm on a Sunday when there was a small glitch with our shopping basket – so very well deserved.

Next week's newsletter will be all about that other remaining book (it's another cracker, and fairly seasonal); after that, we're on the home straight, headed for the holidays!

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

Sunday, 20 November 2016

This week at Valley Press, #36: 'Heroes and villains'

Dear readers,

We held another great launch for Take This One to Bed this week, on Friday at the marvellous Friargate Theatre in York. I'm opening with this because, during the course of the evening, a dozen people I didn't previously know told me they love these newsletters – apparently they read them 'religiously', and one person said 'it's the only group email I get that's actually worth opening'. I was so touched, as I always am when someone writes back and says they enjoy my weekly ramblings. In just thirty-six editions, these have gone from being a rather dubious experiment to pretty much the beating heart of Valley Press. Here's to the next thirty-six!

A successful night was just what I needed to take away the sting of there being still no hardbacks to show at the event – that's the special edition of Antony's book with the golden fish on the front, if you've not been keeping up. Rather like the recent political news, printing these hardbacks has been a saga where I continually think 'this is bad, but at least it can't get any worse'; only to be hit with some new jaw-dropping development.

I don't want to whinge, of course, but those of you who pre-ordered the hardbacks do deserve some kind of explanation. The concise version of the story is as follows: about eight weeks ago, as none of my usual printers were quite suited to doing 100 luxury hardbacks, I thought I'd try someone new – a specialist Yorkshire-based company (I'm not going to name them just yet) who were up for the job and offered a reasonable price. As I write this, long after the deadline I gave for delivery, I am down several hundred pounds without a single copy to show for it. Delays are one thing, but there's been no explanation, and they've teased me by constantly suggesting the books are about to arrive – you may remember last week, they were 'just waiting for the glue to dry'.

'As least we still have the paperbacks!' George points out, helpfully. I'll keep you updated.

In brighter news, I've finished production on one of the year's remaining books, Guests of Time – an anthology that emerged from a three-poet residency at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. You may be wondering how this Oxford-based project came to be published in Yorkshire; I think it's mainly thanks to one of the three poets, our very own Kelley Swain, putting in a good word on our behalf. Or, could be a sign of the publishing industry moving ever-more northwards...

This is something totally new for us: a high-end, full-colour hardback, featuring eighteen outstanding photos of the museum and its exhibits, along with plenty of poems old and new (some of them with extraordinary layouts). I'm looking forward to sharing some content with you in the next few weeks, but for now you can see a tiny preview here. This is the most expensive Valley Press book ever, priced at £24.99 – but to make that a little more manageable, anyone who pre-orders the book this week and uses the voucher code OXFORD can have £5 off. Don't say I don't treat you right!

A couple more things to mention: Michael Stewart, author of the fantastic short-story collection Mr Jolly, was on BBC1's Countryfile today talking about the Brontës (in the house where four of them were born), with regard to a trail of commemorative stones he is organising. Catch it on iPlayer here, ten-ish minutes in, if you're interested. Elsewhere, Felix Hodcroft has written an article titled 'Seven Things You Need to Know About Poetry'; well worth a look, you'll definitely learn something (I did).

To finish on a note of justice being done – Antony mentioned the offending hardback printer during the York event, and they got an actual, lengthy 'booooo!' from the audience. I guess we are heading into pantomime season!

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

Friday, 18 November 2016

The Emma Press Newsletter #36: Fingers crossed!

Hello everyone,

I'm proud to say that the Emma Press has been shortlisted in the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet Awards for the third year in a row. Not only that, but we've got a pamphlet in the running for the very first time: Malkin, by Camille Ralphs. You can read the judges' comments over on the Wordsworth Trust website and see all the other estimable publishers and pamphlets in the shortlists. The results will be announced at the awards dinner at the British Library on 13th December – wish us luck!

There's lots more good news in this newsletter, so read on to find out about our latest anthology, our new pamphlet authors, some general book news and dates for your diary, and our call for animal poems.

* * * *

Hot off the press: Anthology of the Sea (£10)

Our last book of 2016 has hit the shelves! We were delighted to celebrate the publication of The Emma Press Anthology of the Sea: Poems for a Voyage Out a few weeks ago.

Editor Eve Lacey has assembled a truly excellent selection of poems and we were lucky enough to see some of the poets perform at the launch party in King's Cross. You can see some photos here.

You can read more about The Emma Press Anthology of the Sea here and buy the paperback (£10) in our webshop. I will do the ebook soon too, I promise. Excitingly, we've already had our first review, on the LiteratureWorks website.

* * * *

Meet our twelve new pamphlet authors

We're finally able to announce our new pamphlet authors, chosen from last year's call for submissions. And they are... Andrew Wynn Owen, Emma Simon, Jack Nicholls, Leanne Radojkovich, Jan Carson, Padraig Regan, Zosia Kuczyńska, Carol Rumens, Rakhshan Rizwan, Simon Turner, Julia Bird and Malachi O’Doherty. 2017 will be a great year, for pamphlets, at least! You can read more about the authors here.

Latvian success 

A couple of newsletters ago, I mentioned that I was trying to understand foreign rights deals and translation funding bids. I'm happy to inform you that my deals and bids were successful and we'll be publishing two Latvian translations next year: The Noisy Classrom (Skaļā klase), a collection of children’s poems by Ieva Samauska, illustrated by Vivianna Maria Staņislavska, and The Secret Box, three stories from Pirmā reize, a collection of short stories for adults by Daina Tabūna. You can read more about it on the actual Bookseller and you can read about the 'Support for Foreign Publisher Publishing Latvian Literature' programme here. You can also read about it in Russian here.

* * *

General book news: Mums and Moons 

Some of you may have noticed that The Emma Press Anthology of Motherhood has been out of print for a while. This is because I wanted to update the cover design and illustrations, as our house style has changed a bit since 2014. This time, I've done five new drawings, which you can preview here – and you can see the new cover design to the left. The books have just come back from the printer and you can order your copies here.

Moon Juice at the Oxford Lieder Festival 

Some poems from Kate Wakeling's collection of poems for children, Moon Juice, have been set to music by composer Frances Cheryl-Hoad and were performed at Oxford Lieder Festival a couple of weeks ago. Rachel and I went along and we were completely blown away by it. Seeing all the reactions of the audience made me think that Moon Juice should be recommended for the Ted Hughes Award, as it really is an outstanding piece of work. Wink.

Kate went into BBC Radio Oxfordshire ahead of the concert, to talk about her poems and read a couple out loud. You can listen to her interview here, from 1.07.10.

* * *

Dates for the diary: competitions, courses & events 

* Fri 25th-Sat 26th November, BIRMINGHAM. We've got a table at Ikon Gallery's first Winter Craft Market – details here.

* Fri 2nd-Sun 4th December, BIRMINGHAM. You may have spotted that I'm keeping it very local this winter, as a treat to myself. But why leave Birmingham, when there's so much good stuff on? I'm especially looking forward to having a stall at this: the Winter Makers Market in the old Municipal Bank building. Details here.

* Mon 5th Dec. Women writers are invited to send their poetry and prose on the subject of 'Guilt' to Mslexia by 5th December. Winning entries will be published in their March 2017 issue. Details here.

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Open calls for submissions 

* There's just over 2 weeks left to send us your POEMS ABOUT ANIMALS, for The Emma Press Bestiary, an adults' anthology which will be guest-edited by Anja Konig and Liane Strauss. You can read the press release here and the guidelines here. The deadline is Sunday 4th December 2016.

Closed calls for submissions 

* Our call for poems about British and Irish KINGS AND QUEENS closed on 13th November and we are no longer accepting entries. I'll let you know an ETA for responses in the December newsletter.

* Our call for LOVE POEMS ended on 10th April and we have now sent out all the responses to everyone who submitted. If you can't find a response, even in your spam folder, let me know and I'll forward the email on to you again!

* Our call for poems for THE EMMA PRESS ANTHOLOGY OF AUNTS ended on 29th May and we are no longer accepting entries. The current ETA for responses is the end of November 2016.

This is a complete update on all of our calls for submissions, and we do send responses to everyone's submissions individually. In the meantime, just keep an eye on our newsletters for news of our progress and read our blog to find out what we do when we process submissions.

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And finally... 

* You can see some photos from our launch party for Watcher of the Skies: Poems about Space and Aliens, taken by poet John Canfield, here.

* There's a new writing magazine brewing over in Belfast: The Tangerine. Read all about it in the Irish Times and check out the Kickstarter campaign here.

* I hope everyone who went had a nice time at Poetry in Aldeburgh last weekend! The poet-in-residence Ben Rogers diligently did about a million interviews, including ones with Jacqueline Saphra, Emily Berry and Geraldine Clarkson. Get this man in residence in more places!

* 'These are poems how I like them to be' – Nadia Kingsley from Fairacre Press has written a lovely piece about Deborah Alma's pamphlet True Tales of the Countryside. You can read it here.

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That's all for now. Do forward this newsletter onto your friends if you think they might enjoy it, or encourage them to sign up themselves here.

Best wishes,

Emma Wright

Sunday, 13 November 2016

This week at Valley Press, #35: 'By request'

Dear readers,

Unusually, this week I've found myself beset with suggestions on what to talk about in the newsletter. I've had requests to discuss the political elephant in the room (who packed and left for the circus, etc), the war poets (as it's Remembrance Sunday here in the UK), baby George (of course!), Antony's first launch (more appropriate), where the hardbacks are, what books are still to come this year, and – as we make a last promotional push for this year's submissions process – why we made you fill in the now-infamous paper forms.

Guess what? I've decided I actually will touch on everything above; this is one time when all the people can have what they want! So let's get started.
* * * * *

I've always been determined to keep politics and Valley Press separate; I want VP to be a place where every single person can come together to be creative, enjoy the fruits of other people's creativity, and maybe learn something – no matter what their opinions or values. If 2016 has taught me anything, it's that this bitterly divided world really needs places like that (metaphorical or otherwise), and I need to keep it up.

This has led to me holding (and indeed biting) my tongue on the issues of the day for a good five years or so, to the point where I apparently seem totally disengaged. I'm okay with that! But just once, here are some opinions of mine (that shouldn't be too controversial or surprising):
  1. I think our society has a deeply flawed attitude to/understanding of money and work.
  2. I think this is both a cause and and effect of our education system, which I've seen from many sides and appears to also be profoundly flawed.
  3. Because of points 1 and 2, but worsened in this century by accelerating technological changes (think, automation), it is getting easier for people with money to make money, and harder for everyone else.
  4. 'Everyone else' is therefore frustrated, to put it incredibly mildly. (I am too, but I have a cushy life and a new son to take my mind off things – I also have no idea how to change points 1, 2 or 3.)
  5. Some people thought Brexit and Trump would shake up this status quo, so voted for them. No-one knows what the future holds, right now; could be bad, could be good, but it's coming either way. We'll find out together.
* * * * *

Antony's Leeds launch was a success, of course, boosted by a great introduction from Faber and Faber's poetry editor Matthew Hollis (spot him in the header image; and James Nash, Peter Spafford and Matthew Hedley Stoppard if you're feeling ambitious). He reminded us of 'the Dymock poets', a group that assembled in the years before WW1 and was dismantled by it (that's your war poets mention); and went on to describe a trip he and Antony took to the village of Dymock, walking the paths walked by Edward Thomas and Robert Frost. Matthew described being there in the exact moments poems about this experience were written; readers of Antony's new collection can enjoy these from page 35.

More prosaically, Matthew also mentioned doing an event with Simon Armitage recently, who apparently leaned over and whispered: 'Antony Dunn is a good poet'. We'll take that as a review!

The night was only slightly dampened (for me) by the absence of our luxury Antony Dunn hardbacks, which I'm still waiting to actually see. The six-week saga of these missing books, which began with me telling the printer 'they must be ready by the 10th November', is worth a lengthy essay one day (which will make you laugh or cry), but for now I'll say the last straw, the ultimate delay, was due to 'the glue not being dry'. Oh, I also had to send them the front cover illustration three times – and eventually say, almost shouting: 'I don't know how else to put this across. The fish goes at the front in the middle.'
* * * * *

Let's calm things down (briefly) by looking at baby George, now seven weeks old:

Despite me being almost as tired as George looks, there are still three books coming from Valley Press this year – according to the spreadsheet anyway. I'm confident you'll see two, at least; the third, being the most complicated book I've ever tried to put together, is somewhat unpredictable (but completely worth it). I can't really tell you about any of them today, but keep an eye on the next two newsletters for details.

That leaves me with only one last issue to mention: why did we make you fill in paper forms to submit your work this year? We've always done paper submissions, mainly as I like to discuss them with real people in a real room, and don't like paying for printer ink; but the form was a new invention for 2016 – and funded by the Arts Council. You could (and still can) get them by buying a book from our site, or attending an event (such as Antony's next launch reading, at York's Friargate Theatre this Friday, 18th, from 7pm.)

This policy has led to hundreds of emails during the year from prospective authors grumbling furiously, most of which have been valiantly dealt with by Laura. They don't like jumping through hoops, which is fair enough; but my thinking was, if you've made your way to our website, you're either a convert to the Valley Press cause (in which case buying a book will be a natural next step), or you don't like the look of us, in which case you won't be wanting to submit your precious work. It makes sense!

The reason the form exists in the first place is actually to reach the general public: people who'd never dream, in a million years, of searching online for 'publishers welcoming unsolicited submissions'. That's why it says on the front of the form, 'have you got a book in you?', instead of something mundane and typical like 'The Valley Press Writing Prize, 2016, Entry Form'. I've been spreading the forms as far as I can all year: supermarkets, cinemas, theatres, hospital waiting rooms, and even if they touch just one person who didn't previously think they could be published, and get them to pick up a pen and write something for us, the whole thing has been a success.

That brings us back to politics: we can't just talk to 'our own kind' any more, can't get stuck in bubbles of common beliefs and interests if we're going to fix the world's problems. That's my last point today – hopefully I can go back to holding my tongue for five years!

Thanks for reading, as ever; see you next week.

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher

Sunday, 6 November 2016

This week at Valley Press, #34: 'Mind the gap'

Dear readers,

Felix and Sue's 'Hull to Scarborough Line' has been going for six years now, and they treated both ends of the line to performances of their new show Mind the Gap this week. If you've not seen H2SL, it's hard to describe exactly what it is: not a play, not a 'reading', but a live event that falls somewhere in between the two. Absolutely brilliant, of course, without fail – there's a reason they pack rooms with 50+ people at a time for a 'literary event' (see header image).

I was able to capture the first seven minutes of tonight's show in video form, and put it on YouTube here; sorry it's not better-filmed, I always forget my camera and end up using the phone! The Hull event had a two-man technical team supplying sound effects and bona-fide station announcements; in Scarborough, we do things a little more modestly, replacing the technical team with a man in a hat (the unmistakable David Lewis). I hope you like it anyway, and remember you can pick up Sue's new book here if you want some great short stories.

I don't have too much else to tell you this week, but I can report I've found plenty of female readers for my submissions 'reading group' – so could really use a couple of men, if any are out there! To recap: I'm needing volunteers to spend a day in Scarborough (now narrowed to the 16th or 17th December) briefly looking at the submissions we've received this year, so I know which potential books real readers might be interested in. People who've done it before have really seemed to enjoy the experience, and I can promise you biscuits and a few free books! If you're interested, reply to this newsletter and let me know. (More ladies are welcome too, the more the merrier!)

Leeds residents have a chance to see Antony Dunn at Yorkshire Dance this Friday, the 11th (St Peter’s Buildings, St Peter’s Square, LS9 8AH); no tickets, you can just turn up at 7pm and enjoy a fantastic reading and some chat. I'm hoping to have the hardbacks by then ... if history's slowest printer finally puts ink on paper (that's a story for another time).

John Wedgwood Clarke's TV programme about the literary history of the Yorkshire Coast is on BBC4 next Sunday (13th Nov), 7.30pm – not last week, as I mistakenly said in the previous newsletter. Definitely worth a watch.

Finally, earlier in the week, I was sorting some old boxes of books and came across this:

I remember writing that when I moved into the Woodend office in 2013, when I had different interns in every fortnight (an exhausting time!) They would inevitably stumble upon the box in the course of their duties, and it turned into a fascinating social experiment ... some laughed it off, some were genuinely concerned and made a point of sitting away from it.

What was in it? We'll never know; I can't remember, and I can't afford to take the risk of opening it ... I've got a wife, a mother, all kinds of in-laws, several bartenders and a six-week-old depending on me! Theories on a postcard, please.

All best,
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher