This title both is and is not what it sounds like – but who can resist such a thing?
I’ve been invited to present a 15-minute talk about creating my verse drama, Opera di Cera, at the Oxford-Globe Forum for Medicine and Drama in Practice, the theme of which, this year, is ‘Amputation and Body Parts’.
This is indeed very exciting, and also, hopefully a step in the right direction towards the possibility of Opera di Cera onstage.
The newly-opened Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at The Globe would be the best possible setting. Candlelight; waxworks; poems about candles and wax…and body parts…after all, I’d like to hold a performance in La Specola itself, but it would make for rather pricey tickets.
Opera di Cera is going to be published by Valley Press in the next few weeks!
You can already order it here.
Watch this space for news about the book launch: all welcome.
Join us at the Museum of London on Valentine’s Day to indulge in this ‘City of Seduction’, including poetry readings – sexy, sultry, stimulating…come find out…
If that isn’t enough of a night with Venus, and you’d like to explore her darker side, come to Bart’s Pathology Museum on 20th Feb. Anna Maerker will give a talk on the wax models of La Specola, Florence, and I will read from Opera di Cera.
It’s been an exciting month, with the pleasure of editing my two forthcoming poetry books: Opera di Cera is due out with Valley Press in Feb, and Atlantic is due out with Cinnamon Press in May. The anticipation of waiting for these books is delicious.
It was a special delight to receive a collection of bookmarks from the artist herself for my birthday – Badaude’s ‘Readwomen2014′ concept that has been a worldwide success – as well it should! It’s an honour to be included on the list.
As my creative writing tutor used to say, ‘Go forth, and write!’ – Or read…
Happy New Year! I’m delighted to say it’s looking to be the most busy publishing year I’ve ever enjoyed, due several books being scheduled for 2014. There will be plenty on this blog about all of them in the coming months, so I’d like to mention several events which are happening soon. It would be great to see you there!
If you’re wondering what to get anyone for Christmas, by the way, the perfect gift is our small and beautifully formed anthology of science poetry and art, Pocket Horizon, which has an introduction by award-winning poet Don Paterson.
It was a delight to help kick off Jamie’s tour at the first date in London, where I had the pleasure of reading alongside VP poets Richard Barnett (Pocket Horizon) and Jo Brandon (Phobia) and Emma Press poets John Stone, Jacqueline Saphra, (both contributors to the Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse) and Rachel Piercey (The Flower and the Plough).The Emma Press and Valley Press are ‘engaged’ in a creative, clever meeting of presses – they are sharing publicity, and selling each other’s books (though the respective publishers clarify that despite being friends and business partners, they are not, in fact, engaged in person)!
Marcos Avlonitis, who made the remarkable cover photography for Pocket Horizon was also present at the VP Tour date in London and has furnished us with some more brilliant photos – thank you, Marcos!
Thank you to all who joined us for Wednesday night’s Science Museum ‘Lates,’ where we enjoyed a brilliant evening of science-inspired poetry in the Museum’s Science in the 18th Century Gallery.
Katie Maggs, our essential curator and contact at the Museum, said they have never had so many people through that gallery on a ‘Lates’ night as we did on Wednesday.
We held the reading at the far end of the Gallery, which has a marvellous mural on one wall of ‘An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump‘ by Joseph Wright of Derby, a famous 18th-century painting which is used on many book covers and in many references to the ‘Age of Wonder’ (about which author Richard Holmes writes so well).
Simon Barraclough started us off with a fantastic reading from his ‘Planet Suite’ out of his book, Neptune Blue. He also told us about his next project, Sun Spots, which he’ll be working on in the coming year. Neptune Blue was published by Salt in 2011 and was just re-released in hardback this September.
We then had two readings of poems from Pocket Horizon, which is out now with Valley Press. It was a pleasure to have all of the contributors there, including our artist, Cassie, as well as Katie Maggs and her colleagues helping to show objects including an orrery, a canopic jar, and an artificial limb from the Science Museum’s collections.
So, how did Pocket Horizon come to be? A little bit of recent history may help set the scene:
This link is to Don Paterson reading his poem, ‘A Pocket Horizon,’ which he wrote for the Cambridge ‘Thresholds’ project.
The story of Don’s poem, and our anthology, is one that runs in parallel, or perhaps one might say it turns in a ‘widening gyre,’ and is down to a combination of serendipity and observation.
When I had the opportunity to meet Don and discuss our collaboration towards what would become Pocket Horizon (the anthology,) we met at the Whipple Museum, where we were given a ‘grand tour’ – as Don had never been to the Museum before. He knew that part of his ‘Thresholds’ residency required him to write a poem. I noticed that he was very keen on a particular object – the pocket horizon.
Eventually, we held the Masterclass workshop with Don and the contributing poets, all of whom are now published in Pocket Horizon.
When it came down to choose the title of the book, as Editor, I thought the name ‘pocket horizon’ would work well – it’s full of mystery, it lends itself to metaphor and poetical interpretation, and
- I thought Don might like it.
When he replied to my news that Valley Press would be publishing our book, it was with delight and surprise – he said he was writing about the pocket horizon, too!
(Gee, what do you know, I said…)
Though his poem is not part of our book (belonging to the Thresholds project, and our anthology being separate from that project,) I feel it completes the circle, as it were. And, frankly, it is a stunning poem. (It sounds to me as if it was recorded in the Whipple, too.)
So, thanks again, Don, for your generous introduction to our Pocket Horizon, for hosting our Masterclass back in January, and for writing your own poem, ‘A Pocket Horizon’.
Who also produced a brilliant podcast of all of the poets reading a selection of poems from PH, which you can listen to here.
And utmost thanks to our publisher, Jamie McGarry, who stayed on for the whole evening to sell our books, which he made sure are beautiful.
If you didn’t make it to the Museum, we’re planning more readings and events for 2014, including a poetry-reading-and-art-gallery-collaboration in Greenwich in January – so watch this space…
I’m thrilled to announce that a poetry anthology I’ve edited, Pocket Horizon, published this month by Valley Press, will make its debut at the ‘Science Museum Lates‘ this coming Wednesday, 30th October. It’s a free event!
We’ll be holding three 30-minute slots with a poetry reading and object viewing in each. The first slot (19:30 – 20:00) will showcase Simon Barraclough, whose lovely book, Neptune Blue, engages with the planets. The second two readings (20:15 – 20:45, and 21:00 – 21:30) will feature the contributors of Pocket Horizon. Books and drinks will be available all evening.
Whether or not we have the pleasure of seeing you at the event, please do follow the link at the top to listen to a wonderful, 19-minute podcast featuring the poems, produced by, and thanks to, Dr Richard Barnett.
Finally, get ahold of the book here.
A talented group of poets are pleased to take part in Science Museum Lates next Wednesday, 30th October, for the free, ‘Space’-themed evening.
Join Simon Barraclough, Lorraine Mariner, Mick Delap, Sarah Westcott, Richard Barnett, Dominic McLoughlin, Malene Engelund, and Kelley Swain to explore space and science through verse.
Find us in the Science in the 18th Century Gallery on the 3rd Floor for the following 30-minute readings:
19:30 – 20:00: Simon Barraclough, reading from ‘Neptune Blue’.
20:15 – 20:45: Poets reading from ‘Pocket Horizon’.
21:00 – 21:30: Poets reading from ‘Pocket Horizon’.
We’ll also have, for your viewing pleasure, several objects including an orrery, a canopic jar, and artificial limbs – come find out what these objects are, and how they relate to these books of poetry…
Neptune in your Pocket: Join the authors of Pocket Horizon and Neptune Blue for a reading of space-inspired poems, ranging from a servant’s wide-eyed view of a Grand Orrery to the disappointment of Pluto’s planetary demotion. Also get an intimate chance to see incredible objects from our astronomy collections that these poems touch on.
What could be better than hearing Lorraine Mariner read her poem about a Grand Orrery, but to do so whilst seeing one in motion? We’ll have objects from the Science Museum collections on display – so you can find out exactly what a Pocket Horizon is, and how it relates to our anthology…
While I had an overall brilliant, formative 4 years completing an undergraduate degree (BA in English with a focus in Creative Writing,) graduating in 2007, one thing that has always stayed with me is something my then supervisor, poet Laura-Gray Street, told me – If I wanted to write books, I should seriously consider not having children. Fortunately this jived pretty well with my predisposition anyway, and furthermore, fitted very well with the attitude of my to-be and now former husband. This was probably due to growing up with a handful of aunts and uncles who did not have children, and always seemed to be jetting off to exotic places.
My life must be allowed to centre upon books. This is why I felt the ferocity of a mother tigress for her cubs – indeed, violent, fierce images came frequently to mind – when defending a book that I’d worked on for three years against a terrible, terrible cover, and an unfortunately nasty editor. It’s also why I chose to break with Templar Press, and why I am equally thrilled that Opera di Cera will not be published partially in pamphlet form with Templar, but in its entirety, with a glorious cover, by Valley Press. My books are my babies, and I put a lot of time, effort, blood | sweat | tears – insert what cliche you will – into them.
So it is with great pleasure that I look towards the next nine months, to see three books coming out – books that have been in the making for the past six years. The editors worked closely with me on the cover design, and I appreciate their skill and enthusiasm. I’m looking forward to holding these beautiful books.
First, due to be published by Valley Press in September, is Pocket Horizon, the marvellous compendium of poetry by a talented set of poets, whom I was able to shepherd into a Masterclass workshop with leading poet, Don Paterson. Don has been extremely generous in his involvement with this project, and he is contributing an introduction to the book, the pages of which also dance with illustrations by Cassie Herschel-Shorland.
Then, on 13 Feb, at a Valentine’s-centred event at the magnificent Bart’s Museum of Pathology, Dr Anna Maerker and I will once more jointly present talks (Anna) and poetry (me) about the Anatomical Venus. This will also be the launch of Opera di Cera. For those of you who made it to the event at the Gordon, I’ll be reading a different selection of poems – and for those of you who weren’t able to make it – here is another chance for wine, women, and wax.
Events at Bart’s are run by the Queen of what I call the ‘Dead Cupcake Crowd,’ that group of fabulously turned-out retro fashionistas who somehow combine red lipstick and bleach-blonde fashion with…well, dead stuff. Carla Valentine hosts a series of events at Barts, and I was blown away by the gruesome Black Dahlia event she held last year – and was also blown away by the strength of the cocktails this woman serves up. The events are worth attending for the drinks alone. Barts Pathology Museum is the perfect place to launch Opera di Cera, just as the Gordon Museum of Pathology was the perfect place to debut the drama. I’m thrilled that we’ll hold the launch there in Feb!
Last but certainly not least, my poetry collection Atlantic, which has been on the publishing list with Cinnamon Press for about two years – always planned for 2014 – will be published in May 2014. Atlantic is a very different exercise in poetry than Opera di Cera. It is a collection of poems written over a long period of time, after Darwin’s Microscope, and up to about now, about family, grief, and the ambivalence of living abroad.
This flurry of publishing is extremely satisfying, and I also want to make it clear to those who aren’t writers that this is unusual. Writers will appreciate that it takes a long time for a book to go from start to finish, and often even longer to go from finished to published. I’ve been working on Atlantic for about 6 years, Opera for about 3, and PH – well, that was an intense, pressure-cooked book, and all the more remarkable for it – we began everything in January of this year. All in all that is still nearly 10 years of work, on and off. If you want to be a writer, I believe you must put that kind of time in.
I’m not sitting still, of course – I have just put the finishing touches on my novel, Double the Stars: The Life and Adventures of Miss Caroline Herschel, and will have some news about that soon, too. And The Naked Muse is going very well – I feel very different about this book, having an agent for it, and am curious to see how that particular journey goes.
These books could not be what they are (and are going to be) without the generosity of the cover artists (Marcos Avlonitis for Pocket Horizon, Tanya Marcuse for Opera di Cera, and Henrike Scholten for Atlantic,) nor without the enthusiasm of the marvellous publishers – Jamie McGarry at Valley Press, and Jan Fortune at Cinnamon Press. Nor – especially – would these books have been written without the support of my friends and family. Thank you all for reading, and I hope to see you at some of the events!