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Book reviews book shops Earlyworks Press flash fiction Poetry Uncategorized

Three poems find sanctuary

You too can be Battersea Poetry Home. It’s amazing the treasures you can rescue from potential oblivion, and give sanctuary to in your own head. When you pick up a poetry book and find something you love, ideas, images and phrases take root. You have enriched yourself, as well as rescuing a book that might not be picked up that much, not being a popular novel or a box of chocolates.

Three poems I have never forgotten

From Sky Breakers…

Skybreakers book cover

Photo of Mr and Mrs Daft

by Joe Fearn

The sky here

isn’t actually blue

it only appears blue

because it reflects the sea.

Which itself isn’t really blue,

it just reflects the sky.

It sounds daft, but somehow works.

Like the marriage of Mr and Mrs Daft,

shown here in Hastings in 1915.

Mr Daft is stunning in khaki,

Mrs Daft is peaches and cream.

She will run a shop in St Leonards,

he will board a troopship

and be blown to pieces

in the Dardenelles.

From Records, Rivers and Rats

Records, Rivers and Rats book cover

The rock chamber

by Derek Sellen

A steep-sided gully

where the cliff narrows to a spit

and a fallen ram has left its bones;

It’s the ocean compressed in a box,

a cyclone of brine and spume,

a square cut maw,

it’s the breaking turmoil of the world.

From Misfit Mirror

Misfit Mirror book cover

Market Day

by Jocelyn Simms

John Scott rubs square palms across apron stripes.

I finger a solid apple.

Together we regard the sky: sulphurous clouds, nacreous

sun, the moon a cinnamon curl. The Resurrection.

 Apocalypse.  Turner’s Fighting Temeraire?

I bite tart flesh, silver juices spill, the taste of almond

at the core. Removal of any item of school uniform

will result in nuclear fission.

What have we to lose, John Scott? Here at the end of the world …

And you with all these pheasants to sell?

Why not rescue some poems for Christmas? If you’re in or near Hastings, contact me to have all three of these books delivered to your door for £15

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Book reviews book shops Circaidy Gregory Press Earlyworks Press flash fiction Poetry Short stories Uncategorized

Blog of blogs for Earlyworks Press

Greetings to all the authors and friends of Earlyworks Press!

I’m sorry for the long silence on the competitions and website fronts. COVID blah blah recession blah blah need to earn a living – you know how it is. For those who signed up to our newsletter for competition news, I’m afraid there isn’t any yet. I do intend to look at the possibility of re-starting the main competitions next year but we are scattered, and funds are non-existent so no details yet but I’m still here, and still obsessed with finding interesting stories and promoting small press work, so there will be at some point.

In the meantime, there are still anthologies available – I am in the process of putting information about all our backlist into blog posts so people can still find them, and I am still, as ever, willing to offer bundles of books to the authors who have contributed to them until stocks run out  – if this is you, and you’re looking for Christmas presents for example, feel free to contact me if you want any. Generally, I can supply ten books – of one or of a selection of titles – for around £60 to authors, post-free so long as they have a UK delivery address and can do discounts on individual title orders.

Here are the Earlyworks Press blog posts so far…

You are here and Old Magic in a New Age

Barcelona to Bihar

The Several Deaths of Finbar’s Father

Significant Spaces, recognition and Loretta’s Parrot

The Hastings Modern Art Beach Book and Visions of Hastings

The Ball of the Future, The Road Unravelled and Telescoping Time

Porkies

The Sorcery of Smog, Journeys Beyond, Unsafe Spaces and Apples, Shadows and Light

There are also write ups of quite a few of the Circaidy Gregory titles on the blog now.

There are more to come, so if you want to publicise the books your work featured in, please use the blog links, and do keep an eye on our Facebook account, or on Circaidy Gregory on Twitter (links below) for more. There will be announcements there, and via this newsletter, when I know what the future holds competitions wise.
All the best,

Kay Green (editor, Earlyworks Press)

Other ways to keep in touch:

follow Earlyworks Press on Facebook, or our related publishing imprint @CircaidyGregory on Twitter or write to us at Earlyworks Press, Creative Media Centre, 45 Robertson St, Hastings, Sussex TN34 1HL
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Book reviews book shops Earlyworks Press Hastings Poetry Short stories Uncategorized

Back in the days of the desktop publishing explosion, this happened…

Way back before I got involved in publishing, I had developed a fascination for small press books, glorious evidence they are of specialist endeavours that most people will probably never get to hear about. Someone commented once that there were probably more than a few books on my shelves that were the sole surviving copy of whatever it was.

Small press bookshelf
A random section of one of the ‘special’ bookshelves

I doubt that, but one of the reasons for my loyalty to small press is that I truly dread the success of the corporate world’s dream of everyone buying the same book, the same film, the same everything. It’s also why I loved producing the Earlyworks Press anthologies, collections of the best that had been offered up in our annual poetry and short story competitions. It was all brand new then: suddenly, desktop editing and publishing was within reach of the not-rich and not-leisured classes, and digital printing made small runs – not cheap perhaps, not exactly *easy*, if you wanted to do it well – but possible.

Every now and then, as well as the standard annual competitions, we’d branch out and call for different kinds of writing – and where the time, the inspiration and the print-fund allowed it, we’d produce anthologies of those, too.

Here are a couple that have earned their places on quite a few people’s bookshelves and, I can guarantee, will be on mine for life.

You are Here

Let’s try out some non-fiction, we said, and announced the Earlyworks Press Memoir & Journalism competition – and my goodness, it produced some unexpected wonders – and all true.

He’s a GI. She’s Pregnant. He’s recalled to New York… Her dad left home years ago: he wanted to be Robinson Crusoe – but now he’s back… From pork chop purloiner to community leader – who is best qualified to solve our problems…?

Dodging maths lessons, going to violin lessons; learning about love and life, war and death; dreadful accidents, extraordinary luck; growing up, changing your mind, changing your life; the stories came from all over the world, and some came with the most extraordinary photos – so the book is illustrated throughout, often with photos and artworks that had not been in print before – it’s a treasure.

Another time, we went off in the opposite direction…

Old Magic in a New Age

Standing stones and churches, trees and totems, fairy tale creatures: dragons, princes, gods, ghosts and elementals from Europe and beyond … We asked our writers and illustrators to find the mythic and magical figures that spoke to them, and show us why they have survived into the New Age.

Old Magic in a New Age: Earlyworks Press Myth & Legend

The result was a fabulous collection. Some of the motifs are familiar and faithful, others have evolved as the world has changed. So if modern life leaves you hungry, enter these pages and find out which eternal classics still speak to your personal magical language.

According to poet and cover artist Cathy Edmunds, the search went something like this…

I need to find a druid

need to bind a long-beard be-robed figure of fun

to raise a smile

need

a poet a bard a hahaha-hazel be-twigged master

lurking in ash groves oak gown sites

of special scientific interest

need a druid

an onion

ten cloves of garlic

at least

Contact me to order either of these books or, if you’re in or near Hastings, have them delivered to your door, post free.

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Book reviews book shops Circaidy Gregory Press Earlyworks Press Poetry Uncategorized

The Astonishing Worlds of Mandy Pannett

How many years ago did I jump on a train to Arundel to have lunch with Mandy Pannett, and talk about organising a poetry collection competition? It happened before the Corbyn movement swept me away for several years of single-minded battle; it happened before the most urgent women’s campaign of my lifetime, and before COVID, and I am looking into a long-gone world to write this.

I ask myself how to make that long-ago world come alive again, the world of river and café and castle, all ancient stonework gleaming in cloistered sunshine – and the wondering leads me into Mandy Pannett territory. It’s more real than Monday, despite being as far away as last night’s dream.

‘Tell it slant’ is a phrase of Mandy’s that evokes the necessary skill – do I have that skill? The first work of Mandy’s that I read was The Onion Stone, which took me to Shakespeare’s days, and sparked off a million diamond-flash worlds because it evoked, involved and manifested an idea, but it WOULD NOT tell the reader what it was. I was captivated, haunted, for ages. She calls it ‘telling it slant’. You can read about how that works here.

The onion stone by Mandy Pannett  - front cover
Who – or what? – was Shakespeare?

Mandy worked with Catherine Edmunds on that poetry collection competition, and two brilliant books came out of that. Firstly, one of my all-time favourite poetry collections, Georges Perec is my hero from our winner, Caron Freeborn.

Georges Perec is my hero book cover

Why Georges Perec?

How are we to speak of these ‘common things’, how to track them down rather, flush them out, wrest them from the dross in which they remain mired, how to give them meaning, a tongue, to let them, finally, speak of what is, of what we are.

– Georges Perec, ‘L’infre ordinaire’

The other book to come out of that poetry collection competition was Convergence – the meeting place of eight poets, edited by Catherine Edmunds and Mandy Pannett, and beautifully juxtaposing sets of poems by Andie Lewenstein, John Wilkes, Eilidh Thomas, Anthony Watts, June Wentland, Mick Evans, Rata Gordon and Angela Arnold – and of course, featuring Cathy Edmunds’ drawing of that most famous meeting place at St Pancras.

Convegence: the meeting place of eight poets - book cover

We lost Caron Freeborn too soon.

I last saw Caron when, back over Arundel way, I got lost in a visionary dream at the launch of Mandy’s The Wulf Enigma – an enigmatic evening if ever there was one, with music, poetry and plans – such plans! – alongside the River Arun.

The Wulf Enigma - front cover

Here’s the enigma

Mandy didn’t believe me about the hyperbolic plane (if you didn’t click the link above, you don’t know what I’m talking about) but you know, I stopped tippy-tappy typing just then, and started thinking about The Wulf Enigma again, and it led me off down yet another train of thought that hadn’t occurred before, so I maintain that it contains infinite folds of story, illuminating infinite worlds, and so you will never tire of being fascinated by it.

Thank you for all those worlds, Mandy Pannett.

Convergence, The Wulf enigma and Georges Perec: front covers

Buy The Wulf Enigma from Foyles or bookshop.org

Buy Georges Perec is my hero from Foyles

Or contact me to order either of those, or Convergence, and your books’ll be in the post directly.

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Book reviews book shops Circaidy Gregory Press Poetry Uncategorized

Women writing poetry – scary?

Ask a poet for a bit of text to for the back jacket, to encourage readers to open her book, and you get this….

Wormwood, earth and honey

Selected poems by Catherine Edmunds

teasel scratches, bramble catches

deep inside my den of mischief

mud pies splatter, cracked plates clatter

if you dare to enter here

insects bite you, ferrets fight you

creepers catch you, magpies snatch you

hidden dangers trap all strangers

don’t you try it, don’t you dare

I will chuckle, smirk and giggle

deep inside my den of mischief

faith is forfeit, friendship fickle

if you dare to enter here

So all I can say is read Catherine Edmunds’ poetry collection if you dare. It’s very good.

There’s a gentler welcome to Marilyn Francis’s ‘red silk slippers’ but don’t be fooled – she doesn’t miss a trick. Here’s the title piece …

red silk slippers

Yesterday we celebrated all the Christmases

we’d missed since you left and this morning there’s sunshine

and a light frost and I have red silk slippers from Thailand.

Outside, blackbirds peck for worms

on the square of turf where the old cat is buried

and I have bright wooden birds from Singapore to dangle

lifelike from the branches of the lilac tree.

The heating pipes grumble, wind lullabies

through the chimney and I have a lucky Chinese cat

whose silvered paw waves back and forth

tick-tocking the seconds

between yesterday and tomorrow.

This morning there’s sunshine and a light frost

and I have red silk slippers from Thailand.

Or you could read

Into the Yell,

Sarah James’s most excellent collection – but I can’t guarantee she won’t yell at you.

Into the Yell by Sarah James, wormwood earth and honey by Catherine Edmunds, and red silk slippers by Marilyn Francis

Buy wormwood, earth and honey from Foyles

Buy red silk slippers from Foyles

Buy Into the Yell from Foyles

Or if you’re in or near Hastings, contact me to take up our Christmas offer of all three books, delivered to your door for £16

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Book reviews book shops Earlyworks Press Hastings Poetry Uncategorized

20th Century Art in Hastings

This article, adapted from a piece in a former Hastings anthology, Visions of Hastings, explains how the Hastings Modern Art Beach Book came to be…

text © 2010 K Green, pictures © 2010 K Reekie

They threatened to build an art gallery on The Stade in Hastings and, despite a furious tide of resistance, they did. It was to house the famous Jerwood Collection, the existence of which most people in Hastings were blissfully unaware. Well, the Jerwood Collection came and went, and Hastings is still as full of art … and as contrary … as ever. One of the many things that came out of our brush with Jerwood though was a project I set about with poet and art critic Joe Fearn and artist Katherine Reekie.

Katherine, Joe and Kay present the book,
poems and paintings in a local bookshop

First, find out what ‘modern art’ is…

I was the guinea pig. Like a lot of people in Hastings, I knew very little about modern art and was very suspicious of the whole ‘scene’. I first got involved when I went to see Katherine’s collection at Hastings Arts Forum. I got talking to Joe, already an experienced arts commentator, about how difficult it is for ‘outsiders’ to see what’s going on in the art world. Next thing I knew, I was wandering around art galleries in Edinburgh and London, trying to educate myself on the subject, and reporting back experiences which ranged from baffling through infuriating to utterly amazing.

Featuring Reekie’s
Art on the Beach collection

The three of us presented our conclusions, along with a range of opinions on Hastings and art by local commentators such as creative community moderator Erica Smith, social policy researcher Peter Saunders, and art promoter Lesley Samms. There is also a range of Hastings and/or beach-themed work and commentary by writers and artists such as beach artist Laetitia Yhap, illustrators Ian Ellery and Cathy Simpson and poet Sandra Burdett. Hastings is a wonderful and terrible place. It’s bung full of music, poetry, art and street-drama, and it’s been at war with itself since long before 1066. There’s no helping this. Just like good friends who are constantly fighting, if you try to help, they turn on you. Perhaps they’re enjoying the battle too much to give it up.

Perhaps it’s because of The Stade. There is one set of laws to cover the ownership and access to land, and a different set to cover the same issues in the case of beaches. Where onshore drift causes a build-up of shingle which becomes sufficiently embedded to deserve the name ‘land’, what you have is what lawyers would probably call an on-going earning opportunity and what everyone else would call outright war.

By the time we’d finished working on the book, the art gallery was pretty much built, and the remaining argument was mostly about the ownership of a scrap of land on which the electricity generator for the gallery stood. I had spent a lot of time learning about art galleries, Joe had spent a lot of time looking at boats and talking to people who work on the beach, and Katherine had painted a lot more pictures. All the time, all of us continued to be amazed, outraged, delighted and baffled by the relationship between Hastings, Modern Art, the beach, art galleries and the words and the pictures of all involved, many of which we collected as part of the journey, and became part of this oh, so very Hastings book.

Buy The Hastings Modern Art Beach Book from Foyles

Buy Visions of Hastings from Foyles

The Hastings Modern Art Beach Book is £12.99, including postage, to the UK but if you’re in or near Hastings, contact me and you can have one delivered to your door for a tenner.

Or (again, if you are local) and you’d like both the Hastings Modern Art Beach Book and Visions of Hastings, delivered to your door, for £15, just give me a shout.

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Book reviews book shops Earlyworks Press flash fiction Poetry Short stories

Stocking Fillers for Adults

[My apologies to those reading this because you’re looking for the short story anthologies. This is because I put an incorrect link in today’s newsletter. You probably want to be here. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a cheap Christmas comedy book, you’re in the right place, Read on….]

Let’s go back to the dawn of Earlyworks Press time for today’s ‘Christmas books’ blog.

Back then, the press was very much Hastings-based, and the heart and soul of the membership was our Terry Sorby. ‘Porkies’ was very much his plan. A page-turning collection of sizzling jokes, rhymes and mini-stories, it’s just perfect for Christmas Day. With this book in hand, you can out-shine the cracker-jokes with real prawn crackers.

Porkies: Pigtales of the Unexpected

Once upon a dinner time

Whilst the chicken sang cantatas

Two sausages got married

And invented chipolatas

Including ‘Antibiotics and Whiskey’, a cautionary tale by C R Krishnan about how not to spend Christmas, comic verse by Victoria Seymour, dedicated to her hair dresser and, exclusively, David Dennis’s translations of never-before understood cave-paintings…

… and of course, lots and lots of porkies, illustrated by Kath Keep and Katy Jones.

This little piggy went to market

This little piggy stayed at home

This little piggy had bread and jam

This little piggy had none

And this little piggy read up on shopaholics, agoraphobia, obesity and farming subsidies

Also by Terry Sorby – a few copies of his collections, ‘Beyond the Greyscale’ and ‘Roadie & Co’ remain, and like ‘Porkies’, are a fiver each, delivery free to those in or near Hastings, UK, birthplace of Earlyworks Press.

There was a young poet from Oldham

Who orated out loud as he told ’em

Quoting verse and prose

From the hole beneath his nose

He whipped out his books and he sold ’em.

Beyond the Greyscale and Roadie and Co by Terry Sorby

Please contact me to order any of these stocking fillers for a fiver each.

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Book reviews book shops Earlyworks Press Poetry Short stories Uncategorized

Do not buy silly shorts

Of all the strategies you could employ when Christmas-related desperation strikes, shorts in winter are the worst. ESPECIALLY if they look like this…

Do not wear them

In fact, do not wear shorts in winter at all…

Read them

Earlyworks Press has a fantastic back-list of high-quality short story collections. They are a truly seasonal and satisfying Christmas gift – a well-written short story is the perfect companion by the fire on a winter’s night. Here are just a few of the available titles…

The Sorcery of Smog

The Sorcery of Smog - cover pic
24 unforgettable stories

Hualophilia, autogynephilia, technophobia…

An unwitting homicide, a desperate shamanic journey, the end of the world…

….and other everyday occurrences.

In settings ranging from Mexico and the Australian outback to down town Edinburgh, told with laughter, philosophy, nostalgia and some stunningly unexpected twists, this wide-ranging collection of original stories demonstrates why it’s sometimes difficult to get from breakfast to supper without precipitating an apocalypse…. and then comes the night.

Journeys Beyond

Journeys Beyond
Short stories and poems

Where do you look, how far do you travel, what are the magic words? When danger and chaos are all around, how do you find the eternal human spirit that survives the worst, the very worst, the world can throw at you?

Unsafe Spaces

Unsafe spaces book cover
short stories

There are already two books out there called ‘Trigger Warning’ so this one is called ‘Unsafe Spaces’ instead. Go on, take a risk. You will never forget reading this book.

Apples, Shadows and Light

Apples, Shadows and Light
short stories

Where do baby selkies come from? Where do shadows go? What happens in the minutes after a war ends? Apples, shadows and light presents an incredible range of stories, some long enough for a train journey, some short enough for a tea break – and all touching on intriguing ideas you might just never have thought to ask about…

Buy our short story collections from bookshop.org

Or please contact me for direct sales. All our collections are now available to our members and associates for £6 per book plus postage (or if you’re really keen, £60 for ten, with free delivery to the UK).   Also, individual books can be delivered post free to all comers if you are in or near Hastings UK. Please contact me to arrange.

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Book reviews book shops Circaidy Gregory Press Poetry

From ancient fragments…

Words that evoke the real lives of long-ago and far-away people have a compelling fascination for most of us. I found this glimpse of a young man from ancient Greece (which was perfectly modern and normal to him) particularly satisfying. I even prefer the snatched lines to the fuller poems. Like phrases that catch your ear as strangers pass in the street, they are both memorable and mysterious, and the one amplifies the other.

Alcaeus’s beautiful and delicate poetry is often overshadowed by the literary reputation of Sappho, his fellow poet and compatriot. R J Dent’s sensitive translation of the poems and Fragments from ancient Greek into lively modern English promises to rescue Alcaeus’s ethereal poetry from obscurity.

Alcaeus’s nobility, conciseness and sweetness combine forcefully with his use of metaphor and his clarity.

‘ – Dionysius of Halicamassus, ‘On Imitation’

His poetry smells of vine-leaves and the sea.

Peter Levi, ‘A History of Greek Literature

Recreated from fragments of history, and fragments of ancient manuscript…

Buy Alcaeus from Foyles

Buy Alcaeus from bookshop.org

Or if you’re in or near Hastings, UK please contact me to buy direct, post-free.

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Book reviews book shops Circaidy Gregory Press Poetry

The Driftwood Tree

This friend of mine is the pickiest person I ever try to buy gifts for. He prefers to buy his own clothes, music and so on – because no-one else can ever guess right – and he owns a single shelf of books – he’s confident they are the best books he’ll come across in this life – but he was ill, on a very restricted diet, and deserved a good present.

After some agonising, I hit on The Driftwood Tree. It’s a novel by Catherine Edmunds and John Benn from an original idea by Benn. It’s a good, sure-footed, absorbing read – but it’s not just a novel. It has original drawings and poems by Edmunds, works done during the editing process, so they are not just ‘illustrations’, and not just ‘let’s put some poems in’. The drawings explore the story, the story invites the reader to savour the poems, and the poems wash up out of the text like misty-morning wavelets, and speak eloquently to the drawings.

Driftwood tree pages 2

It’s a symphony of the arts, a lyrical celebration of the eternal outsider.

Driftwood tree pages 3

“The circumstances of his birth have made Peder an outcast, a driftwood tree on a weather-beaten shore, but this quiet man’s indomitable spirit might just enable his community of survivors to take root and thrive, along with the other lost children and drifters who gather along the tide line.”

It’s a story that does the heart good.

Driftwood tree back cover

“one river to cross, one path to follow homeward”

The Driftwood Tree

by John Benn and Catherine Edmunds

My friend loved it as much as I had. It’s perfect for curling up in an armchair through the winter nights.

Buy The Driftwood Tree from Foyles

Or if you’re in or near Hastings, please contact me to order your copy post free.