TAKING LIBERTIES with The Goose Woman

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Many of the poems in The Goose Woman focus on a village in Bohemia. I did worry that a neighbour might come across them and take offence but decided that was unlikely. The collection was in English, published in Britain, I was safe. And there were only a few poems that might be insensitive.

However, when asked by Svět Knihy to talk on a panel about translation, and read a few examples, the risk became more pressing. Svět Knihy is a book fair held annually in Prague in May, both a trade fair for publishers and a literature festival, combining promotion with readings, discussions, argument. The events are held in Výstaviště, exhibition grounds that were built around an industrial palace in 1891.

This year had the usual long queues to get in, people of all ages in a three days extravaganza, a celebration of books: fantasy, romance, TV cooks demonstrating their dumplings, people hunched over incredibly complex, incomprehensible interactive games, talks on politics, philosophy…

An event at the Cafe Europa was about Brexit, with an emphasis on its literary ramifications. David Vaughan moderated and Bernie Higgins and I identified ourselves as fully Europeans, and tried not to get too heated. Questions from the audience included confusion about what the Labour party or more precisely Corbyn was up to. Fintan O’Toole was quoted from Heroic Failure ‘…the strange sense of imaginary oppression that underlies Brexit. This mentality is by no means exclusive to the Right.

The poetry events were held in the Lapidarium. This extraordinary museum houses stone sculptures dating from the 11th century. I could only hope that no one in the audience or wandering through looking at the original statues from Charles Bridge would glance over at the poems projected wall size behind me.

I was asked ‘How has your relationship with Czech (and a Czech) affected your poetry? Which was impossible to answer. The second question ‘because of your close relationship with Czech and your translators (Aleš and Tomáš), when you are writing do you ever pause and deliberate on whether to use a line that you know will be difficult to translate into Czech?’ made me realise I’d failed completely to consider and value translators. Tomáš Míka talked about the difficulty in translating ‘One Made Earlier’  from Stories & Lies. It looks impossible but he did it – a few in the audience were even familiar with the reference to Blue Peter.

Then I was asked to read ‘I Am Slabce’ from The Goose Woman. My untruths/exaggerations were projected behind me; no one seemed to have any difficulty in understanding. Slabce was less than eighty kilometres away; I could only imagine Mr Novak or the mayor or Vladimir wandering in and being appalled by such slander.

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A European Evening at Our Latest Launch

 

The latest titles from Blue Door Press had a warm send-off at The Word Bookshop, New Cross, London, on 28 March: Jane Kirwan’s Czech themed Goose Woman and Francis Gilbert’s exploration of Hungarian history, Snow on The Danube.

After rich readings there followed a Q & A with Francis explaining why it took him 21 years to complete the novel, and Jane speaking of the connections she finds between  Slabce, the village in Czech where she spends half the year, and the village in Ireland, home of her grandmother.

For those who couldn’t make the launch, here’s a flavour …

 

 

Stories & Lies – new poetry is launched

We’re delighted to announce the launch of our latest poetry title – Stories & Lies which showcases a trio of poets as they ask – how can we ever get our full family story when some people stray, some stay put, some go to any lengths to hide their past and others invent?

Three very different poets create the stories that need to be told in order to explore ideas of belonging and leaving, exile and expatriation, family and self. In poems that range from the surreal to the conversational we glimpse relationships across generations, moving from Ireland to the north of England to New England via the Midwest and Eastern Europe. From the most intimate poems to the expansive, these portraits reveal the universal in the personal, the extraordinary in these ‘ordinary’ families.

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The book was launched in November at the Poetry Cafe in London’s Covent Garden.

Pamela Johnson, Jennifer Grigg and Jane Kirwan each read and then signed books for a full house. Standing room only!

L to R: Pamela Johnson, Jennifer  Grigg, Jane Kirwan

Stories & Lies is available online via Green Bottle Press, click here and scroll till you find the title

 

 

Herrings – BDP’s first book of poetry

 

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Blue Door Press is pleased to announce the publication of HERRINGS, our first poetry volume,  published in collaboration with Poetry In Aldeburgh.

HERRINGS is an anthology of poems reflecting the gathering of poets at the first Poetry in Aldeburgh festival in November, 2016. Daphne Warburg Astor and Andrew Hewish have edited and designed  HERRINGS in celebration of the poetry community far and wide.

In this beautiful hard-backed volume you’ll find over 100 poems written by first time poets as well as internationally respected poets, including – Moniza Alvi, Mona Arshi, Maura Dooley, Ian Duhig, Matthew Hollis, Ruth Padel. Many take inspiration from Aldeburgh, the North Sea, East Anglia, the energy and warmth of the festival, friendship, family and more.

At the heart of the volume is collaboration, discovery and the generosity of the included poets because every penny from sales will be donated to Poetry in Aldeburgh to help create the festival for years to come.

HERRINGS will be launched at Poetry in Aldeburgh 2017 at the special festival price of £10.  from 6th November the retail price will be £12.

Poetry In Aldeburgh – Herrings

The inaugural Poetry In Aldeburgh festival – a gathering of poets and poetry lovers over the weekend of 4-6 November, 2016 – was tremendous success. An event made possible by the energy of volunteers plus the goodwill and enthusiasm of the hundreds of people who attended.

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How to capture and record some of that buzz? How to reflect the magic of a packed weekend of poetry by the sea?  We at Blue Door Press are delighted to have been joined by Daphne Astor, Curator of Poetry in Aldeburgh, to produce the anthology, Herrings.

Herrings aims to publish poems by those who performed at or attended the weekend. It looks like being a wonderful project both as a record of that shoal of poets but also as a way of announcing Blue Door Press’s commitment to poetry publishing. We plan to launch at the Cambridge Literary Festival in April 2017 with more readings in London and in Aldeburgh.

If you were at the festival in November we need a poem from you! Poems are already coming in. The closing date is 31 Jan 2017.  Full information on submission is here

Below: a round of pictures from the inaugural Poetry In Aldeburgh

Including: Blake Morrison and Tamar Yoseloff at the launch of Lookout, an anthology of poetry inspired by Aldeburgh, in The South Lookout on Aldeburgh Beach; Poets take a morning dip having read poems in the sea; Ella Astor and Robin Boyd at the box office in the Garage Gallery, the festival hub; The South Lookout;  Tom Paulin signs books after a magical reading in the Jubilee Hall; poets in the hub; entrance to Garage Gallery.

Poetry For Blue Door

 

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Daphne Astor, curator of the first Poetry In Aldeburgh festival, has joined Blue Door Press to develop poetry publication. Her first project will be to edit the anthology, Herrings.

Daphne explains the thinking behind the book: I  want to create a permanent record of the first Poetry In Aldeburgh festival. The spirit of the 2016 gathering is collaboration and participation and so I’m going invite participants to submit a poem for the anthology, which aims to reflect and record that spirit.

Submission will be open to all poets who perform at or attend Poetry In Aldeburgh, 2016. But why the title?

“Herrings will be a record of 4,5,6 November, 2016 when the poetry tribe came to the Suffolk seaside in the manner of a shoal of fish, of a collection of people giving time and making the effort, of sharing an experience. The title also reflects the historic relationship that Aldeburgh had with the large schools of herrings which were caught and salted to provide income and livelihoods for local fisherman and the gansey-knitting, salting women who travelled along the coast of the East Anglian North Sea every autumn.”

If all goes to plan, Herrings will be published in spring 2017