Thank you to everyone who helped to launch Atlantic on the evening of 23rd July!
It was hot as blazes in the basement of the Poetry Cafe, but the room was packed despite the heat, with about 40 people (or however many can fit into that basement, including people sitting up the stairs…)
It was a pleasure to share the stage with poet Bill Trubb, whose book All Men are Afraid also came out with Cinnamon Press recently.
The reason the night was extra-special for me was the presence of my mom Kathy, my Aunt Debbie and Aunt Robin, and Uncle Ed, all of whom happened to be on tour through Europe and the UK this month, with their ‘London day’ happening to fall on the 23rd. Though I always miss friends and family who are not able to attend, it was amazing to be surrounded by so many beloved friends and family members from both sides of the Atlantic!
I’m especially pleased to have photos by the talented Marcos Avlonitis, whom I recommend to all in need of a photographer.
We had a full house at the Horseshoe Pub in Clerkenwell last night for the launch of Opera di Cera – It was a marvellous evening! I couldn’t be happier with the final published book: it is more beautiful than I could have dreamed – and my expectations are darn high! My sincere thanks to everyone who came, as well as to the team who has been an essential part of making this book happen: Jamie McGarry, publisher extraordinaire; Anna Maerker, my generous historical advisor; Tanya Marcuse, who donated the gorgeous cover art from her photography series; Rebecca Tremain and Garry Merry, who have been helping bring the poems to life for the past few months (and more to come, we hope!) and Richard Barnett, who is away in NYC, but was very much there in spirit. Also my thanks to Marcos Avlonitis, Paul Craddock, and Simon Barraclough for their photographic work! More photos here.
A stunning bouquet of flowers from my darling welcomed me at my door on the morning of the launch!
Opera di Cera is now in hand, and available from Valley Press (where you can read about details of the launch party on 8th April – do join us!) and Inpress Books (who names the verse drama as one of their favourite publications of the year)!
I could not have hoped for a more gorgeous quality of production, and I must thank Jamie McGarry for his fine attention to detail and uncompromising aesthetic. The path to publishing Opera di Cera before it found its proper home with Valley Press was treacherous at times and I’m relieved that I rescued it from a lesser situation and worked to make it a stunning VP book.
Some people have asked about the title: it is pronounced ‘Chera,’ or ‘Chair-ah,’ – Cera has a hard ‘ch’ sound. Ready? Channel that Italian accent: ‘Opera dee chair-ah.’ Opera di Cera. The title translates as ‘wax work,’ or ‘work of wax,’ and I’m ever grateful to Richard Barnett for suggesting it.
The ambition of the book is operatic, and I’m extremely fortunate to have caught the interest of actors Rebecca Tremain and Gary Merry, who joined me at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre on Saturday for a brief dramatic reading as part of the Oxford-Globe Forum for Medicine and Drama in Practise. Our excerpts took place alongside scenes from Selimus and discussions of Titus Andronicus, and fit in well. Rebecca and Gary will also be reading at the launch!
Last Thursday, I was in Cambridge for the Science Festival as well to meet with Leigh Chambers from Cambridge 105 Radio for an interview about Opera di Cera. This should go on the air in the next month or so, and I will post details and links when it’s available.
Following the interview, I joined a distinguished panel of writers – some of whom I know well, some of whom I was delighted to meet for the first time – for ‘Science as the Spark’ – talking about writing creatively about science. The event was sold out, and we had a bright, engaged audience, who listened and contributed to a healthy discussion about historical fiction (from the two female writers on the panel) and science fiction (from the two male writers on the panel) – convened by someone I always enjoy hearing from – Dr John Holmes, Chair of the British Society for Literature and Science, which sponsored the event. A great night, ending with lively discussion in the pub afterwards about the pre-Raphaelites and their poetry – one of my favourite topics!
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!
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 Cerais 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 busiest 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!
Pocket Horizon, our small poetry anthology of poems and artwork on the history of science and medicine, launched successfully in autumn 2013. We’re rolling out several events around the book this year, starting with an evening at Made in Greenwich art gallery.
There will be readings from all of the poets, as well as a Q & A with our artist, Cassie Herschel-Shorland. It promises to be a full and lively evening, with a musical piece, based on PH, being debuted, and guest poets contributing their own science-inspired poems.
The event is Wed 29 Jan, 7:30pm start: Tickets £5.
The formidable Jamie McGarry, VP Publisher, is currently in the middle of his Valley Press Tour, celebrating the publication of (nearly!) 50 books in 5 years. It’s truly an honour for Pocket Horizon to be part of this prestigious list, and I’m delighted that Opera di Cera will follow swiftly on the heels of these 50 books.
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!