Thursday, 2 November 2017

"We are a good match actually – the aesthetics, some cheek, seriousness": Deborah Alma on publishing her pamphlet with the Emma Press

Over the course of our call for pamphlet proposals, we'll have some of our existing pamphlet authors writing about their experience of having a pamphlet published with us. Here I've interviewed Deborah Alma, author of True Tales of the Countryside!

Tell us a bit about your pamphlet.

True Tales of the Countryside is, I suppose, an exploration of a woman’s identity: as a mother, wife, lover; in ageing; as a mixed-race woman; and when alone. Those things can be difficult, dangerous, and dirty and also fun, so the poems are a bit like that.

As the reviewer Sarah Hymas says of the pamphlet, ‘there is a repeated undercurrent of unhappiness, and the attempt to articulate it exactly: through metaphor, perverted nursery rhymes and fairy tales, and, perhaps most effectively, through raw, unpunctuated language’. 

What drew you to The Emma Press?

I’d been watching The Emma Press for a long time, since the first few pamphlets and had loved the whole feel of the press - its stylish and very particular look and Emma’s bravery in getting the books out there.

I had a poem accepted for The Emma Press Anthology of Motherhood, which I loved. To me, this meant my writing might be OK, and it gave me the confidence to put a pamphlet together knowing that Emma didn’t absolutely hate my writing!

I think we are a good match actually – the aesthetics, some cheek, seriousness; these matter to me. 

What did you enjoy about working with the Emma Press?

Emma has been graceful and lovely to work with. I was full of trepidation for the editing process because although I am used to feedback and critique, I have a strong sense of ownership of what I do and make, despite not always being confident in it. This is a tricky mixture. But it was a real pleasure, a conversation I really enjoyed.

I already felt very proud to have been chosen by The Emma Press, but found that there was fun to be had in collaborating on making the pamphlet as good as it could be.

What have you been doing since publishing your pamphlet?

You may or may not know that I have an alter ego in the Emergency Poet which has kept me busy driving all over the UK, travelling to Ireland, New Zealand and the UEA, plus editing 2 bestselling poetry anthologies; The Emergency Poet-an anti-stress poetry anthology and The Everyday Poet- poems to live by, both published by Michael O’Mara.

I am also delighted to have had a full collection accepted by the lovely Jane Commane at Nine Arches Press to be published in May 2018 called Dirty Laundry. I couldn’t be more delighted. Nine Arches and Emma Press had been my first choice presses to send out my submissions; I have waited and watched carefully and my intuition that we might be a good match on both occasions has paid off. 

When I was seven I wanted to be a writer. Then, years later, I was sitting in the passenger seat of my vintage ambulance driving up to the StAnza festival in St Andrews when I read the acceptance email from Emma. I shrieked a lot, I think my partner James Sheard may have almost swerved off the motorway. But this first acceptance and the subsequent beautiful pamphlet with my name on it has been so important to me.

True Tales of the Countryside is available to order on our website. You can also find out more about our call for prose and poetry pamphlet submissions here.

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