It's been an exhausting and emotional week here in Britain, and indeed here at Valley Press. So here's a big long blast of good news –
As mentioned last week, we headed to the House of Lords on Wednesday for a celebration of poetry from 'non-resident Diaspora South-Asian writers', as they were described by organisers Word Masala. I treated the dignitaries to two poems from Saleem Peeradina's Final Cut, and received for my efforts a small trophy from Baroness Prashar and Lord Parekh (I guess this is the kind of company I'm keeping now?)
Here are a couple of pictures taken by Laura; with Lord Parekh on the left, Word Masala editor Yogesh Patel in the middle, and yours truly on the right. (You can also just make out a picture of Saleem, who was there in spirit.)
So that was all very exciting. We were also thrilled this week to hear Di Slaney's Reward for Winter had been Highly Commended in this year's Forward Prizes – her poem 'Doubtful Words' will appear in the Forward Book of Poetry 2017 – and to read a glowing review for The Finest Years and Me from the Churchill Centre's journal (they know their stuff). I'm declaring £3 off both those books this week with the code GOODNEWS.
And it continues: Valley Press is at the Ledbury Poetry Festival this Saturday, with a veritable bonanza of talent on stage. I'll be talking about the realities of modern poetry publishing at 12.15pm, in the 'Panelled Room' in 'The Master’s House' (all sounds very grand). I'll then be introducing John Wedgwood Clarke at 1.20, and we'll be followed by Di Slaney at 3.40 and James Nash at 4.30, all in the same venue, and all completely free to attend! It's a must if you're anywhere near Herefordshire next weekend.
And there's more. There's a new Rosa-produced VP book out in early July, which she'd like to introduce you to. This was actually a submission for autumn 2016, but Rosa (and the readers) loved it so much, I was persuaded to add it to the end of our already-bulging spring schedule. Over to her:
"In a week of drama and (in Liverpool, at least) appropriately apocalyptic weather, I'm thrilled to introduce an antidote – a beautiful debut collection from a poet that I'm certain has an incredibly bright future ahead of her. All the Footprints I Left Were Red is Rowena Knight's astonishing and assured take on coming of age in a world that can be at once alienating and joyful, harsh and beautiful. She tackles vast themes – as varied as violence, migration, food, and love – in compact poems filled to the brim with vivid imagery. Distinctly feminist in stance, and with the outsider perspective that moving from New Zealand to England at thirteen has afforded her, this debut is sharp, lyrical, and a true breath of fresh air. A book for anyone who has ever felt out of place, wondered why it is that women so often write poems about being in the bath, or grew up believing the Goblin King was real!"
You must check out that cover at the very least (as used in the header for this post), and look out for a preview poem on the site soon – it's exemplary stuff.
If you're wondering why you're hearing about Rowena's book so early, the answer is the one slight bit of sad news today; this is the last of my 'weekly update' emails until September. Valley Press is something of a seasonal business, with the book releases and events mostly happening February-June, September-November – in the other months, like the next two, I get my head down and concentrate on production, admin and submissions. (I also spend some time on the beach; there's a reason I live by the sea!)
I might sneak out one more book during those months: I'm working on a huge Collected Poems project, and if that makes it to print before September I'll do a special bulletin. Until then, I hope you have a wonderful summer, that the sun shines, and that you remember where to go should you be stuck for reading material...
Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher