Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Symbiosis: Vladmir Nabokov

To read previous posts in this series, click here.

I latched onto Nabokov my second year of college. I was skipping classes, then, shacking up in a wicker chair next to the poetry section of a local used bookstore, spending my hard-earned tuition money on as many raddy literary classics as I could my dirty hands on. One day my hands found Lolita. I groped the cover, opened to the first page and ran my eyes up and down the first paragraph. My face turned hot. My pulse rang heavy. O the words, they flowed like milk! O the syllables, they dripped, like honey! I licked my lips and took a big, deep breath before leaning in for more.

Writing is such a full-fledged artform, to do it right one has to be a multi-instrumentalist. There's language, character, structure. There's rhythm, scheme and rhyme. Nabokov is that someone-special who can play all of the instruments in the band--and play them well. He's the one who taught me that fearlessness (along with respect for craft) produces the most memorable work; that writing can and should be an experiment.

To view a recently re-surfaced video interview/ footage of Nobakov (dating back to 1965) click here

To read further text from the interview click here.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Launch Report - 'Love Letters & Children's Drawings'

Hello!  It's been a while since I wrote to you on the blog - the day-to-day neccessities of publishing are taking up more and more of my time, leaving little space for luxuries such as blog writing, which you'll agree is a shame.  The plan is to develop my 'time management' skills to the extent I'll not only be able to keep up with the blog, but also handle the two books a month I've arranged throughout 2012 (what was I thinking?!)  Anyone with time-management tips to hand should get in touch immediately.  I've made a good start - I'm writing this on a train to Leeds.  Anyway, onto business...

Last weekend we launched the nineteenth Valley Press book, Love Letters & Children's Drawings by Norah Hanson.  If you haven't had time to read the blurb/bio ect, please feel free to do so now and come back - I'll wait for you.  Done?  Great.

It was decided this time to hold two launches, to try out a new theory of mine - namely that since Friday night and Saturday afternoon events produce such different crowds, holding an event at both those times would result in two healthy turnouts.  This scheme, combined with Norah's astonishing existing popularity, and the proximity of Christmas (thus, people buying multiple copies), lead to this being the highest-selling launch of any book so far.  I don't wish to brag, but I was absolutely bowled over by the response - we had sold 85 copies by the end of the Saturday event, and at the end of the first week we're close to 150 - big business for a small poetry press.

You should have seen it, readers.  Both launches were held in Hull, the Friday night one in upstairs in Fudge restaurant - it was standing room only by the time we started, people were crammed shoulder to shoulder, sat on tables... I even had to let people sit behind the book table next to the cash box!  The Saturday one, held in the Endsleigh Centre (run by a very friendly nun, Sister Catherine) was slightly more civilised, but still attended by a swarm of keen poets and locals.  As I was busy hosting the events, this time, there is no photo record of either day, though I was sent the great photo on the right by Bernard Swift - that's me on the left, not quite looking my best, and still stunned by the turnout.

Norah excelled herself in terms of readings from the book, she had the audience 'in the palm of her hand' (to be cliche), gave them extra and still left them wanting more.  This business can be such a struggle sometimes, that when things go well it's important to savour it (perhaps with a blog post!) - before you move on to the next book, that is, which of course I should.  Back soon with more news.

P.S. Fans of Jo Reed may be interested to know she currently has an exhibition of her print-work (including this snail) running at the Electric Angel Gallery in Scarborough (who are also stocking a range of Valley Press books, I'm delighted to report!)  More information can be found on their website here.