Day 23: Small Press Advent Calendar: POETRY TRANSLATION CENTRE

day 23Next up is a publisher that focuses solely on the, sometimes contentions, subject of poetry in translation. Their explanation for doing this reminded me why translating poetry, although difficult, is a very important thing to do. Door 24 features…

‘Poems’ by Azita Ghahreman, Published by Poetry Translation Centre

The Poetry Translation Centre, established by the poet Sarah Maguire in 2004, translates contemporary poetry from Africa, Asia and Latin America to a high literary standard. They believe that:

“Poetry thrives on translation: it’s impossible to imagine English poetry without it. From Chaucer, via Wyatt, Dryden and Pope, to Ezra Pound’s Cathay, translation has been its life-blood.

But English poetry has yet to engage with the rich poetic traditions of the many languages now spoken in the UK; for Islamic communities in particular, poetry is a particularly significant art form. Our work aims to redress that deficiency.

By making their poetry at home in English, we aim to celebrate the cultures of communities that are frequently neglected and abused in the UK, inviting them to play a vital role in British cultural life.”

Poems‘ by Azita Ghahreman, trans. byMaura Dooley & Elhum Shakerifar, is an introductory collection of Azita’s work, and features her poems in the Farsi language they were written in, with the translated English version alongside.

poemsAzita Ghahreman, born in Mashhad in 1962, is one of Iran’s leading poets. She has published four collections of poetry: Eve’s Songs (1983), Sculptures of Autumn (1986), Forgetfulness is a Simple Ritual (1992) and The Suburb of Crows (2008), a collection reflecting on he exile in Sweden (where she has lived since 2006).

Her poems directly address questions of female desire and challenge the accepted position of women.

If you are intrigued, you can buy the book direct from the Poetry Translation Centre for £4.00.

If you’d like to try before you buy, you can actually just download yourself a free pdf from the same site. Can’t be bad!

[Day 23 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘That time we said we’d be back on the 23rd’ by Stephanie Chan]

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Day 22: Small Press Advent Calendar: SMITH/DOORSTOP

day 22Behind Door 22 we turn once again to one of the more established publishers on this list, to find…

‘Otherwhere’ by Catherine Smith, Published by Smith/Doorstop Books

Smith/Doorstop is the imprint under which The Poetry Business publishes its books, pamphlets, audio and ebooks. Described by The Independent as a “small but enterprising publisher talent-spotting marvellous new poets”, their poets have won or been shortlisted for almost every major poetry prize, including the Forward Prize on 11 occasions and 10 Poetry Book Society awards.

The Poetry Business operates on the basis of four priorities:

  • The spreading of interest in contemporary poetry
  • The encouragement of new writers
  • The publishing of work of new and established writers
  • The setting of high artistic standard

smith_doorstop_-_otherwhere‘Otherwhere’ by Catherine Smith is described as “recklessly wise writing”, which romps through such themes as the spaghetti harvest and the drought of 1976, vegetarian hangovers, horse-racing, teenage girls inhaling helium and cats brought in a case through customs.

There are a number of short, tantalising reviews on both the Smith/Doorstop and Inpress websites, a couple of which I’ll post below, or you can get more of a taste for the book by heading over to The Poetry Shed where you can read ‘The Spaghetti Harvest‘ in full.

“Her scary, unsettling voice seems unexpected in poetry, and cuts her free of the crowd.” – The Times

“Catherine Smith’s poems are at once visceral and delicate. The mythical seeps through the tang and stench of the everyday and asserts itself, triumphant and strange.” – Sasha Dugdale

You can buy ‘Otherwhere’ now direct from The Poetry Business for £9.95.

[Day 22 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Walking to Snowfall’ by Vivien Foster.]

 

Day 21: Small Press Advent Calendar: HOLDFIRE PRESS

day 21It is now too late to order for delivery before Christmas, but this advent calendar continues so that you will know what to spend your book tokens on! Day 21 brings you…

‘The Necropolis Boat’ by Luke Kennard, Published by Holdfire Press

Holdfire Press is a new, small publisher based in Liverpool.  Their first 8 pamphlets were released in May 2012, and they aim to continue to publish pamphlets and also full collections by emerging UK poets.

‘The Necropolis Boat’ by Luke Kennard was selected by the Poetry Book Society as their Autumn Pamphlet Choice, which makes it even more surprising then that there there seem to be no descriptions of this intriguing 28-page mystery on the internet (nb. I’ve not searched the whole internet, but little is forthcoming). But as I’m a massive fan of Luke’s work in general, I’m sure he’s a great introduction to Holdfire.

We do get a bit of info about this pamphlet though on Luke’s blog, Planet-Shaped Horse. He writes:

Necropolis boat“My pamphlet, The Necropolis Boat, takes place within one of the lines of a poem from Planet-Shaped Horse, so could be considered a sequel or prequel or whatever you call a follow-up sequence the narrative of which occurs within one of the lines from the preceding work. A nested sequel, is what I’m going to call it, I think. But you don’t have to have read PSH to enjoy it! It stands alone! Like a man! On a jetty! On his own!
 
I hate the word jetty. I could have said anywhere and I went with jetty.”

 

For those of you not familiar with his work, here’s a short intro to him and poem lifted from the Poem a Month website (check them out!):

“Luke’s writing reflects his own personal interest in mental health and the way society perceives it, often using humour in his poems.”

The following poem, ‘Chorus’, is a poem from his second collection The Harbour Beyond the Movie. Luke gives us this insight:

harbour meyond the movie“I wrote it about seven years ago, at a time when I was writing these little fourteen-line anti-sonnets which explore a single tragi-comical scene. I wrote over a hundred and my editor selected ten to go in the middle section of the book. The other ninety were terrible. This one I wrote for a close friend who was going through a particularly nasty spell of clinical depression.”

CHORUS

The choir hadn’t left him alone since the first day of summer;
He awoke to find them stationed around his bed.

One day the choir arrived without warning or explanation,
Sang the choir in four-part harmony, handing him toast.

On his first day back at work, the choir stood at his desk,
Singing, The choir are making his professional life impossible.

Two weeks later his partner left him for an osteopath.
Hannah cannot stand the choir any longer, they sang.

That night he pummelled the choristers with his fists;
He beats the choir in frustration, but though they are bruised

And bleeding at the lip, they sing with redoubled vigour, sang the choir.
Then they sang, He cannot get to sleep, he cannot get to sleep,

He cannot get to sleep, in perfect fifths, until he fell asleep.
In time you may even grow fond of us, they sang, quietly.

– Read more on Poem a Month

Buy ‘The Necropolis Boat’ via the Book Depository now for £4.98 (free p&p).

[Day 21 on the Poetry Advent calendar is the very appropriate ‘Solstice’ by Russell J. Turner]

 

Day 20: Small Press Advent Calendar: NINE ARCHES PRESS

day 20This could be the last post in this advent calendar if the world does come to an end tomorrow. If, however, it turns out it’s just the end of the Mayan Calendar, then perhaps the absence of the absence of the world will itself possess a kind of weight. Either way, you’ll obviously be needing to get your hand on the book behind door 20, which is…

‘Absence has a Weight of its Own’ by Daniel Sluman, Published by Nine Arches Press

Nine Arches Press believe that literature is something vital and precious, and it’s this, above all else, that they hope their publications will reflect  both their aesthetics and content. Their tastes are eclectic and wide ranging, so rather than defining a ‘type’ or genre of work they want to publish they look for high quality work with a unique voice all of its own.

They publish poetry pamphlets and poetry books, as well as short story pamphlets and Under the Radar magazine, and look for work that they believe will excite, surprise or delights their readers.

Their aim is to continue to build their reputation as publishers of well-crafted and innovative contemporary poetry and short story collections.

‘Absence has a weight of its own’ by Daniel Sluman, is the book I put in this calendar to sit with you through your new year regrets. It’s described by Nine Arches as:

Absence has a weight of its own Cover copy.jpg-for-web-normal“an unflinching study of serious illness, sex, death and decadence […] at times provocative and by turns tender and wry. Frailties and vices are held up for inspection in a ruined landscape of disappointing highs, hung-over regrets and head-on collisions, haunted by figures such as Roman, an unrepentant and debauched womaniser. In the aftermath, real love and hope remain stubbornly, emerging into the sunlight of an unexpected new day.

There are loads of extremely good reviews for this book on Nine Arches which you should go now and read and get all tempted and then buy this book, but just to start you off, I’ll included one from poet Luke Kennard here:

“This poetry of love and trauma is deeply, generously intelligent without ever becoming knowing. There is no joke here: even the most ambitiously strange analogies are counterweighted by a tonne of hard-won pathos. Daniel Sluman’s imagery is jealous-makingly good and his fiercely witty, lyrical voice charts a course between the plainspoken and the precision engineered epiphany. On any given rainy morning, empty afternoon or night, they turn you sideways. You find yourself possessed like Roman (more Sluman’s sporadically illuminated sidekick than Berryman’s Henry) by the conviction, in the glittering mystery of a mundane street, that ‘we’re walking narratives’.”

‘Absence has a weight of its own’ by Daniel Sluman is available to buy now direct from Nine Arches Press for £8.99.

[Day 20 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Swithland Woods’ by Karen Powell]

Day 19: Small Press Advent Calendar: SHOESTRING PRESS

day 19Living on Anglesey this summer has found me writing a lot of poems about stones, which drew my eye to this next title and I’m glad it did, as the book is peopled with characters as strong and striking as rocks. Day 19 is…

‘Swallowing Stones’ by Carole Coates, Published by Shoestring Press

Shoestring Press specialise in publishing poetry sequences and collections, usually by established but unfashionable poets or poets they are introducing to British readers for the first time (though they may be well known elsewhere).

They pay particular attention to layout and illustrative material which is legitimately part of the verbal text or vigorously enhances it. As well as publishing works by UK poets, they have a selection of poetry and fiction by Greek and Australian authors.

‘Swallowing Stones’ by Carole Coates is a verse narrative of a fictional dystopia, peopled by an astonishing range of voices.

'Swallowing Stones' by Carole CoatesSet in the far-off, imaginary, but very real country of Kor, she explores the relation between individuals and the culture in which they have to live, through a range of different voices, incidents and landscapes.

Carole Coates is a fine poet with a novelist’s eye.  In Swallowing Stones she creates an utterly convincing world and peoples it with vivid characters whose voices – sometimes shocking, sometimes lyrical, always perfectly judged – are woven together in this powerful and moving sequence.” –Elizabeth Burns

You can buy ‘Swallowing Stones’ by Carole Coates direct from Shoestring Press for £9.00 (via their mail order form, or if that’s a bit complicated, then head over to Waterstones).

[Day 19 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is joining us on the previous ‘tea’ theme, with ‘Marriage Tea’ by Angela Topping.]

Day 18: Small Press Advent Calendar: EYEWEAR PUBLISHING

day 18As I featured a book called ‘Tea‘ the other day, I thought it only right and proper that for Day 18, we should indulge in some…

‘Dangerous Cakes’ by Elspeth Smith, Published by Eyewear Publishing

Eyewear Publishing Ltd. is a small independent press that is still, so to speak, ‘hot off the press’. They are based in London and started up just this last year (2012). They focus on excellent new work by poets from the UK and abroad, as well as the rediscovery of out-of-print figures, such as   Terence Tiller.

dangerous cakes‘Dangerous Cakes’ by Elspeth Smith is full of “sly poems that limit themselves with obsessive tropes – shoes, wine glasses, balloons, tea, cake, dancing – and then open up, somehow, into vast, mysterious places, with a question or aperçu. Her vision is both light and dark, for curtains open and close. And, though her own life is, and was, doubtless filled with countless personal details of interest, she has pared all back in her poems, that, in their quiet universality, are all the more intimate, and devastatingly lovely.” – Read this and more reviews on Eyewear.

‘Elspeth Smith’s poems are indeed “dangerous cakes”; tiny parcels of benign delightfulness with danger at their centres. A patch of grass, a fresh covering of snow, an old shoe box take a sinister turn if you dare to join the party.’ – Lorraine Mariner

‘Dangerous Cakes’ is available to buy now for £12.99 direct from Eyewear Publishing.

christmasBundle320x216Also, Eyewear are including this book in their SPECIAL CHRISTMAS OFFER: £39.99 for a bundle of books  (normally £51.96)! In this you get four very different poetry collections that offer a snapshot of contemporary poetry, and it all comes tied up nicely in a special Eyewear ribbon.

The bundle includes:

  • Dangerous Cakes by Elspeth Smith
  • Cape Town by Kate Noakes
  • Night Journey by Richard Lambert
  • Midwest Ritual Burning by Morgan Harlow

Eyewear are also happy to include a gift message with the set, if you type the message in the ‘note to seller’ box on their Paypal site, which you’ll see when you order. Buy the lot here now.

[Day 18 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Unplug the Fairy Lights before Bedtime’ by Matthew Stoppard]

Day 17: Small Press Advent Calendar: SEREN BOOKS

day 17Today I have been in Wales, and so I thought Day 17’s entry should also hail from the land of magic and mountains. Instead of poetry though, here we have the letters of poets, oh, and a FREE GIFT* (of poems).

‘Poet to Poet: Edward Thomas’s Letters to Walter de la Mare‘ Ed. by Judy KendalL, Published by Seren Books

Seren Books is an independent literary publisher specialising mainly in English writing from Wales. They are  driven by quality writing across a wide-ranging list which includes poetry, fiction, translation, biography, art and history, and are proud to have published authors and books that have won many a prize here in the UK and over in the USA.

At the heart of their list is a good story told well or an idea or history presented interestingly or provocatively. They have an international authorship and readership, but their roots remain in Wales, where they continue to prove that writers from a small country with an intricate culture have a worldwide relevance.

‘Poet to Poet: Edward Thomas’s Letters to Walter de la Mare’ Ed. by Judy Kendall, is a collection of 318 letters written between Edward Thomas and Walter de la Mare from 1906 to 1917, only 3 of which have been previously published).

poet_to_poet_front2The letters provide new and crucial evidence about Thomas’s poetic processes and the start of his mature poetry, as well as the mutual support the two poets enjoyed. The Seren Books website tells us that:

“Poet to Poet offers a moving epistolary account of the developing personal and poetic relationship of both poets, with biographical revelations, and increased understanding of their influence on each other and key points relating to their poetic processes.”

“This marvelous book about the thankless, frustrating task of, well, keeping on keeping on. But, frankly, what else can a poor poet ever do?” The Tablet

Sounds intriguing to me! I’m always fascinated by how other poets go about the process of writing and, if I’m honest, also how they go about being a poet.

Check it out and browse an extract from the book on the Seren Website.

‘Poet to Poet’ is available to buy now from Seren Books for £14.99.

And, it comes with a lovely FREE GIFT*, so here’s a bit about that too…

‘Christmas in Wales’ by Various: Celebrate Christmas the Welsh way in the company of some of Wales’ leading writers, past and present.

christmas_in_wales_0There are poems on pretty much every seasonal subject you could imagine: “Christmas mass, the nativity play, turkey and plum pudding, the Mari Lwyd, presents, the weather, the shopping and post-festive blues are among the many subjects drawn from stories, poems, diaries and letters. Wartime Christmases in Swansea and the Rhondda – and home thoughts from India and Italy – pantomime characters, Christmas cards and New Year Resolutions; R.S. Thomas, Dylan Thomas, Dannie Abse, Gillian Clarke, Catherine Fisher, Bruce Chatwin, Sian James, Kate Roberts and Leslie Norris, Christmas in Wales has all the ingredients for the complete experience of the season of celebration.”

*Normally £7.99, this book is automatically included free with every order placed before December 21st 2012.

[Day 17 on the Poetry Advent Calendar is ‘Untitled’ by Anna Percy]