Sunday, 14 February 2016
This week at Valley Press: 'History' in the making
This week we brought a new book into the world, our first since November. History is the debut collection by Northumberland-based poet David O'Hanlon; the first product of our two submissions periods last year. The volunteers were all over this one on the July 'reading day'; words like wow and fantastic adorned the envelope by 5pm, and it was unanimously agreed to be a 'must' for the 2016 list.
So what's it about, and why all the fuss? Half the book is actually a re-telling of ancient myths (including my favourite, 'Danaus', which you can read here.) What David has done with these familiar stories is astonishing – he's pulled out the crucial elements from each, found a completely original way of reading them, and delivered this to us in poetry that is perfectly constructed, down to each individual comma. I don't say this lightly, but in my view, that part of the book is an achievement to rival Carol Ann Duffy's The World's Wife.
The other poems are mostly studies of personal history, including an epic 'bildungsroman' describing a twelve-year struggle to paint an authentic picture of the sky – that's where the concept for the cover came from (it's pictured above, if you haven't seen it). These poems have plenty of their own myths, too; it all ties together beautifully. Suffice to say, I really think this book is worth reading; you can find it on our website here.
In other news, if you want your Valentine's fix, you could do a lot worse than read this wonderful article about modern love poetry by The Telegraph, featuring such charming folk as The Emma Press, Andrew McMillan and Warsan Shire. Better still, there's a new love poem by Richard O'Brien on the Emma/Valley blog, here – it's fantastic.
Richard's new poem (particularly the last line) reminded me of this classic by Matthew Hedley Stoppard; so I've decided to make Matthew's collection A Family Behind Glass our half-priced paperback of the week. You can find the book here; just enter the code FAMILY50 at the checkout to get the discount.
This is the fourth newsletter since I went weekly – hope you're all enjoying them so far! See you next week for more (and maybe a submissions update?)
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher