Jo Hemmant, Sharon Black

Interview with Sharon black editor of Pindrop press

Billy CollinsCheryl Pearson’s Bob CooperMark RussellElisabeth Sennitt Clough

sharon1

pindroplogo-gif

Can you tell me how you very first heard about Pindrop Press when you were looking for a publisher?

An online poet friend mentioned that she had just met a lovely editor, Jo Hemmant, who had published several collections by established poets, and was now looking to publish a debut collection by a UK writer. I had just completed a manuscript for my first collection and sent it to her the next day.

What made you choose this press and how was it working with the editor, Jo Hemmant?

When Jo offered me a publishing contract, I had already checked out Pindrop’s backlist and decided this was a serious press I could trust, with a sound reputation. I also clicked with Jo on a personal level, which felt important as we were going to have to work together over something extremely close to my heart. Finally, I admired her very much as a poet in her own right, which again felt important for taking on board her editing suggestions.

Working with Jo was a dream. I’ve since discovered that publishers and editors vary enormously in the way they work with authors. Jo was prompt, thorough and open to suggestions. She also allowed me a large say in the book’s look and feel – she was happy to use a cover image I suggested, for example –which I was deeply grateful for.

 

How did you become interested in taking over the press and how does your vision compare with the Founder’s?

I had recently had my second collection published – by a different press – and on learning that this other press might be on its way out I expressed an interest in taking it over. That takeover didn’t work out, but during my discussions with the owner I’d dropped Jo a couple of emails with questions about the industry to help me make up my mind. In one of these emails, Jo said – well, if it doesn’t work out with this other press then maybe you’d consider taking over Pindrop?

I would say my vision for Pindrop is very close to Jo’s. Like many small presses, Pindrop is run by just one person – me – and as such its output is low, at the moment 4 titles a year, though this may increase in time. What this means is I can really focus on quality – both manuscript and finished book. Like Jo, I handpick titles that I believe are excellent, and I work closely with authors, ensuring they get their say in everything from the content and layout of the poems, to the cover. This last point I think is very important – I know presses vary greatly in the extent to which they allow their authors input. I see no point in putting out a book that a poet is not 100% behind. It’s a relationship that’s being created, not just a product.

What do you look for in a submission now you are the editor?

Quite simply – poems that I love, work that I believe in. Poetry that I am convinced should be out there in the public arena, touching people in the way it touches me. Really it boils down to that. The usual clichés – writing that is surprising, challenging, pushes boundaries – apply of course to some extent. But only insofar as the poems have that effect on me. I know that’s not very helpful, but I think it’s true.

What titles are being published in the future. Can you tell me a little about the poetry/poets you have chosen?

Pindrop will be publishing 4 titles over the next 6 months, and I am enormously excited about all of them. The first is by poet Mark Russell, who lives in Scotland and has a previous pamphlet to his name. Mark’s debut collection, Spearmint & Rescue, is a wonderful blend of poetry that is bittersweet, hilarious, tragic, sexy and poignant. After that comes another debut collection, Sightings, by the fabulous Norfolk poet Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, whose pamphlet Glass won the 2016 Paper Swans Press Pamphlet Competition. Elisabeth’s poetry is rooted in the everyday, yet manages to find the magical and the universal in the most mundane details. Next is Bob Cooper, a seasoned poet from Birmingham whose poetry is sometimes surreal, sometimes skilfully plain, but always understated and exquisitely observed. Finally, Cheryl Pearson’s debut collection Oysterlight is powerful, raw, delicate and quite beautiful poetry, with mythology, history and love as its central themes.

picture1

What challenges have you had so far and where would you like to see the press heading?

The only challenges I’ve had so far have been administrative and technical. Fortunately, I have a wonderful IT team in place, in the form of my long-suffering husband Alex, who is a dab hand at all things software and hardware related. Reading reams and reams of poetry has been a pleasure. Turning down poets whose work is good but just not quite good enough, or simply not to my taste, is never easy, but that’s just one of the necessary drawbacks of the job. Luckily there are lots of poetry presses out there and I know many will find good homes elsewhere.

I would like to see the press heading exactly where it wants to head. I don’t believe it setting long-term goals. I’d much rather watch an organic evolution taking place than push Pindrop in a certain direction. As long as my own passion lies in poetry and in creating beautiful books, then this will remain Pindrop’s emphasis.

If you could select one person in the world (this or another) living or dead who could make you a coffee in the morning and look over submissions with you, who would you choose?

It would have to be Billy Collins, the former US poet laureate. I’m a huge fan of his work and I think he’d make an excellent coffee. He’d take his time over it and serve it up with something unfancy but unspeakably delicious. Then he’d sit blowing slow smoke rings over the desk while calmly pushing this page into that pile, that page into this pile, barely saying a word but managing to convey which poems to take and which to leave, and why, by just the simplest gestures. Could I have him for the week?

Advertisements
Cora Greenhill

Cora Greenhill featured poet

Cora greenhill

A Hum

A colony has been moved from the loft
this morning, the rafters scraped clear
of their stash of sticky gold.

Brick-sized ingots drip into buckets,
bowls overflow. The girl who cleans knows
honey’s royal role in winter remedies

and how it keeps you young. Her grandma’s
skin is soft as a baby’s at eighty, she says.
Today, she’s straining and storing the harvest

for the bankers who bought the house
with the honey in it. They know nothing about it,
she says. Just sniff at the mess.

They know even less about her, the help,
and the man who’s followed her from Waterford,
erected a tent in their orchard.

How she trickles downstairs, slides into night,
belly brimming amber, trembling
to be touched, to be tasted.

How the tent walls billow,
how the orchard is flooded with light,
and the lovers are humming somewhere

outside of themselves, without names,
or addresses, on sweet rooty earth, where air
smells of honey musk, the heather in bloom.

By the end of the week, jars are sealed,
shelves stacked, tables scrubbed –
the kitchen reeks of Vim.

She is replete, still perfumed by him.
The bankers pay her to leave.

 

Cora Greenhill grew up in rural Ulster, mostly outdoors, escaping the turbulence of family life. She has lived in The Peak District for nearly 30 years. She studied literature at Warwick University, most memorably with tutor Germaine Greer, a lifelong inspiration. She’s had a long and varied teaching career, the high point of which came early, at The University of Nigeria just after the Biafran War.

Cora’s latest collection, Far From Kind is published by Pindrop Press. She self-published two collections and The Point of Waking came out with Oversteps Books in 2013. She hosts Writers in The Bath, the premier poetry reading venue in Sheffield!

Uncategorized

Jo Hemmant’s shed

garden-shed
 

Chaperone

 
Tipsy on a swig of Cinzano and lemonade,
you watch the local hunk
 
send halos of smoke
to the ceiling of his garden shed –
 
his left hand in your mate’s lap
like a cat; like opportunity.
 
He passes you his soggy roll-up;
you can’t reel your smile in fast enough
 
and as the Sex Pistols shriek
Frigging in the Rigging’, he moves in
 
for the kill, the lyrics as daring
as him squeezing the 34Cs
 
you’d give anything to have.
She doesn’t object.
 
The words enough’s enough
lounge around in your throat.
 
 

Jo Hemmant lives in rural Kent with her husband and two sons. In late 2010 she founded Pindrop Press, a boutique poetry press. Her own poems have appeared in anthologies and magazines and won prizes in various competitions. Her first collection, The Light Knows Tricks, is available from Doire Pres.

Uncategorized

December poems part 3: Jo Hemmant, Penelope Shuttle, Margaret Beston

jm

.

Artwork: Jenny Meilihove

The winter I understand

The long trudge across slaked fields,
soil weights on our feet, wind at our hats

and hoods, drenching us with sidelong rain
and already night has leached into the cloud

so by the time we turn into the lane,
the white house is the last of the light.

You help the boys shake off their boots, hang up
wet coats, I put the kettle on, stoke the damped stove

then we pull up chairs
and as the apple-wood smokes and spits,

the first wicks of flame take hold,
we wait like held breath

for it to burn through the week behind us,
the path it clears a salve.

Jo Hemmant      

Jo Hemmant is a poet and director of Pindrop Press. Her poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies, won prizes in various competitions and the opening poem from her first collection The Light Knows Tricks (Doire Press, 2013) was highly commended by this year’s Forward judges. She lives in the Kent countryside with her husband and two sons.

.

Artwork: Sandy Dooley

.

Winter Journeywater lane snow1sm

 
1

Valleys full of mist,
sheep
hard at work
five minutes past dawn

Fields dip and tilt
towards a
low bright sun

Bare hedges
pluck strings of light
on a day
not quite
the shortest

2

Carry the misty forest
in your eye
all the way to the city

across wide grey rivers
and iron bridges

a misty multitude
of tall evergreens

so that the forest comes to the city
but the city
doesn’t suspect a thing

Penelope Shuttle

.

Penelope Shuttle has lived in Cornwall since 1970. She is the widow of the poet Peter Redgrove (1932-2003). Shuttle’s 2006 collection, Redgrove’s Wife (Bloodaxe Books), was short-listed for the Forward Prize for Best Single Collection, and for the T S Eliot Award. Her latest book, Unsent: New & Selected Poems 1980-2012 (Bloodaxe Books, 2012), is drawn from ten collections published over three decades plus a new collection, Unsent.

Landscape Winter

.

Artwork: Lena Kurovska

Locked in with Dylan Thomas
.
I lift the open book from your lap.  You point at pictures –
boys pelting cats with snowballs, the smoke filling
Mrs Prothero’s kitchen. I read, you nod at familiar
phrases: the carol-singing sea, the harp-shaped hills.
We flick the pages to Uncles snoozing after lunch,
Auntie Hannah lacing tea with rum.

But you’re keen to turn back to Mrs Prothero’s fire,
as if you’d like to capture that heat, pack it inside your head,
defrost the words from the fish-freezing waves in your brain
until ice melts and the first few letters emerge, shuffle
into groups, build sentences to circulate the room.

As more flood out, swell at our feet, we’re ankle deep
in nouns and adjectives, dictionaries spilling their contents
for us to catch, cram in our mouths, roll on our tongues,
sound out loud, like Dylan’s bombilating gong –
revelling, like children in Christmas snow.

Margaret Beston

Margaret Beston has run poetry workshops and is the founder of Roundel, a Poetry Society Stanza, based in Tonbridge, Kent, where she lives. Her collection, Long Reach River was published earlier this year: “Delicate and echoing in its imagery, and above all humane, Margaret Beston’s poetry is as fluid and graceful as it is searching” Jane Draycott.

Jo Hemmant

Jo Hemmant: Featured Poet

Jo Hemmant

.

On the occasion of Mayer Samuel Houdini’s 17th birthday

He would be the one to invent a son.
Perhaps his greatest sleight of hand: letters
in that dramatic copperplate, Dear Mrs Houdini,
Mayer has his first tooth, is crawling, can say his name,
in full, our boy, tender anecdotes of bumps and scrapes –
trying to fly before he could walk, of course –
of night-time vigils, lisped funnies, tantrums, slapstick.
………………………………As if I’d have as little say

in my own son as I do in his act: ever the flunky;
the suspension of disbelief; the accessory after the fact.
He did allow him a likeness though – my dark eyes.
Little touches like that, they’re why he’s the success he is.
A locket with a wispy golden curl for Mother’s Day.
A scuffed pair of calf-skin baby shoes. And when the child
would have started school, the reports began, always
in a different hand – outlining academic glory,
popularity, sporting prowess. I’ve even an invitation
to his bar mitzvah somewhere.
 …………………………….He has never mentioned him
to my face; realises that would be too much to stomach.
No, I find the letters on my pillow every month,
about that time; a thoughtless gift.

..

Scratch Days

Now and then we have to let ourselves in,
knowing before we’ve unlocked the door
that inside it’s as if no-one’s home —

TV off, radio quiet as the hush
between each tick of the kitchen clock,
the only sound a distant rat-a-tat-tat.

She’s up in the box room
with towers of tins stockpiled
against famine and flood, hunched

over the Singer, feeding swags of polycotton
across its cool, metal plate
while the frenzied needle stabs,

retreats. Pins clamped between her lips
like threats, foot down like a racing driver
accelerating out of a corner’s rubber stink.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————

Light Knows Cover 1_4.jpegforpostcardJo Hemmant lives in the Kent countryside with her husband and two sons. She is the director of Pindrop Press, a boutique poetry press that has published twelve titles to date. She is involved in local poetry, acting as Secretary of The Kent and Sussex Poetry Society and running creative writing workshops.

Her poems have been published in many magazines and anthologies, including Magma, Iota, Dream Catcher, Brittlestar, nothing left to burn (Ragged Raven Press, 2011), Jericho (Cinnamon Press, 2012). She has also won prizes in various competitions – including first prize in The New Writer Poetry and Prose Competition 2011 (collection category), second prize in the Torriano Poetry Competition in 2011 and runner-up in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition 2012.

The Light Knows Tricks is her first collection and can be bought from Doire Press.