Jo Hemmant, Sharon Black

Interview with Sharon black editor of Pindrop press

Billy CollinsCheryl Pearson’s Bob CooperMark RussellElisabeth Sennitt Clough

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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.

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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?

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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!

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Sharon Black’s shed

Shed

Shed

I hand you nails
to secure the roof felt
torn off in a gale. Inch by
inch, you work the spine
like an osteopath.
I stand on tiptoe
watching you unroll
the pitch into place,
my back rod-straight
as you hammer down
each square. And I think
how I’d have left
the shed till spring
when, shoving open
the rickety door, we’d have found
the deckchairs slimy,
the dolphin burst,
towels damp,
the rot set in.

Sharon Black is originally from Glasgow but now lives in the Cévennes mountains of southern France with her husband and their two young children. In her past life she was a journalist and taught English in France and Japan. In her current one she organizes creative writing retreats at her home in France: http://abricreativewriting.com/

She has won The Frogmore Prize 2011, The New Writer competition 2010 for Best Poetry Collection and the Envoi International Poetry Prize 2009. She was runner-up in the Wigtown Book Festival Poetry Competition 2011, and came 2nd in both the Kent and Sussex Open Poetry Competition 2011, judged by Jo Shapcott, and Agenda Poetry Competition 2011.

Her first collection, To Know Bedrock, was published by Pindrop Press.

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The Frogmore Prize – two weeks to go

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THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2014


Sponsored by the Frogmore Press

www.frogmorepress.co.uk

The winner of the Frogmore Poetry Prize for 2014 will win two hundred and fifty guineas and a two-year subscription to The Frogmore Papers. The first and second runners-up will receive seventy-five and fifty guineas respectively and a year’s subscription to The Frogmore Papers. Shortlisted poets will receive copies of selected Frogmore Press publications. Previous winners of the Prize have been David Satherley, Caroline Price, Bill Headdon, John Latham, Diane Brown, Tobias Hill, Mario Petrucci, Gina Wilson, Ross Cogan, Joan Benner, Ann Alexander, Gerald Watts, Katy Darby, David Angel , Howard Wright, Julie-ann Rowell, Arlene Ang, Peter Marshall, Gill Andrews, A K S Shaw, Sharon Black and Emily Wills.

Adjudicator: Abegail Morley is the author of three collections of poems: How to Pour Madness into a Teacup (Cinnamon, 2009), Snow Child (Pindrop, 2011) and Eva and George, Sketches in Pen and Brush (Pindrop, 2013). Her debut collection was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2010. Abegail lives in Kent.

Conditions of Entry

  1. Poems must be in English, unpublished, and not accepted for future publication.

  2. Poems should be typed and no longer than forty lines.

  3. Any number of poems may be entered on payment of the appropriate fee of £3 per poem. Cheques and postal orders should be made payable to The Frogmore Press.

  4. The following methods of payment are acceptable: cheque drawn on UK bank; British postal order; sterling.

  5. Each poem should be on a separate sheet, which should not include the name of the author.

  6. The author’s name and address should be provided on an accompanying sheet of paper.

  7. The winner, runners-up and shortlisted poets will be notified by post. All shortlisted poems will appear in number 84 of The Frogmore Papers (September 2014), which will be available at £5.00 from the address below, and on the Frogmore Press website.

  8. To receive a copy of the results, please enclose an s.a.e. marked ‘Results’.

  9. Poems cannot be returned.

  10. Closing date for submissions: 31 May 2014.

  11. Copyright of all poems submitted will remain with the authors but the Frogmore Press reserves the right to publish all shortlisted poems.

  12. The adjudicator’s decision will be final and no correspondence can be entered into.

  13. Entries should be sent to: The Frogmore Press, 21 Mildmay Road, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1PJ.

  14. The submission of poems for the Prize will be taken as indicating acceptance of the above conditions.

The Frogmore Press

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Book of Sand

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An alternating sequence of poetry and visual art, where poems inspire art and art inspires poetry. This pamphlet showcases the work of six poets and five artists and is designed, edited and published by Karen Dennison.

Poems by Emer Gillespie, Anna Kisby, Sharon Black, Valerie Morton, Abegail Morley and E.E. Nobbs. Artwork by Chris Ruston, Michaela Ridgway, Gwen Simpson, Sam Smith and Karen Dennison.

The pamphlet takes its name from, and begins with a poem written in response to, the short story The Book of Sand by Jorge Luis Borges. The poem was given to an artist to respond to with any form of visual art and that artwork was in turn given to a poet to respond to and so on, resulting in a sequential chain of responses. The chain is ongoing and so there will be at least one more edition – to find out more about being involved please contact Karen.

“A unique meeting of visionary poets and artists, who enter into a dialogue that at once informs and heightens their individual works. This small collection is a joy, and once again confirms that we need both the visual and the verbal to understand the world as a whole.” — Tamar Yoseloff

The Clearing

Why did I walk naked into the forest
that June morning? Did the sun sweep
its flashlight across my heart
to reveal a sudden herd of longings?

The petals of the flag iris tremble and arch
until they darken with moisture.
A mountain can be a vantage point,
a ledge.

In the patterns of a birch bark I thought I saw
the back of a wolf ’s head. Yes –
half-revealed by the dew
a wolf rising, rising towards the leaves.

Sharon Black

6 Gwen Simpson

Gwen Simpson – Through the Mist; Hand-cut coloured 70lb Canford card; 15cm x 10.7cm. Photographs of this book are in the Book of Sand along with illustrations and paintings from the other artists.

To buy click here

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December poems part 1: Derrick Buttress, Sharon Black, E.E. Nobbs

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Winter Fire

It snowed all through the night, unabated,
and a knife-edged East wind drove
mounting drifts hard against the door.
We hammered the last of the coal
to stoke a roaring fire as though
there could never be an end to
the bitter storms of winter.

We knew such reckless burning was foolish
when the fire sank, at last, to a splutter
of smoke and spark into the ash-filled pan.
‘It’s steal or freeze,’ Mother said and sent me out
to shovel through head-high walls of snow.
Inside a neighbour’s shed lay a ton of coal,
each lump big enough to warm up half a day.

I waded through ice-encrusted drifts
in a world buried under silence.
My guilt was as sharp as the wind
as I pushed through a hedge thinned by winter.
I crossed the neighbour’s virgin snow.
A frigid pair, winter was their element
so I stole their coal, hating their disdain for us.

In our kitchen coalhouse Mother’s eyes danced
like a girl’s. Shaking ice from my clothes
I shivered in the freezing porch,
surveyed my damning track from our door
and across the neighbour’s snow.
‘They’ll know it’s us!’ I cried, but Mother laughed.
‘God looks after his own! Pass me the hammer!’

And she gaily cracked the coal apart,
smashed the hammer down on it,
on poverty and his messenger,
the everlasting tallyman knocking on the door.

From Waiting for the invasion, Shoestring (2002)

Derrick Buttress

Derrick Buttress‘ poems have been published widely in magazines, including Magma, Ambit, The Interpreter’s House and Iota. Two television plays were produced by BBC 2 and several radio plays were broadcast by BBC Radio 4. His poetry collections are: Waiting For the Invasion (Shoestring) 2002; My Life As A Minor Character (Shoestring) 2005; Destinations (Shoestring 2009). A Memoir, Broxtowe Boy was published in 2004, also by Shoestring. Its sequel, Music While You Work, was published by Shoestring Press in 2007.

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Artwork: David Barnes

Latent

Minus 12 on the back of a too-early spring:
next door’s kittens didn’t make it,
the peach bark’s split wide, an old ewe
out by Marquairès tunnel was frozen stiff
by the time the shepherd reached her.

Two days on, the hills hunch under a dusting of snow –
paths, dry-stone terraces, animal trails
suddenly revealedlike fingerprints during a forensics sweep.

The Mistral has been taken in for questioning.

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Things Noticed While Walking in Snow

A single car’s tracks: two ribbons
unrolled on a cutting sheet.
Bird prints by a hawthorn bush:
a smattering of ancient Greek;
discreet scars on a marble beauty’s thighs.
A curtain of ice over bulging bedrock.
Your hand balled round mine.
Fields spread out like a bridal gown.
Power lines plotting perspective.

Through scrawled birches, two donkeys:
vigilant, freeze-framed,
the female’s bray muffled by the cold.
Your hands in your pockets, mine by my side.
An absence of words.
The river, giddy and gleaming:
a dark vein trying to resuscitate
the ghost of land.

And always the split duvet of sky, emptying itself over us
over and over
to cushion our fall.
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Sharon Black

Sharon Black is originally from Glasgow but now lives in France. Her collection, To Know Bedrock, is published by Pindrop Press. She won the Ilkley Literature Festival’s Poetry Competition 2013, Grace Dieu Poetry Competition 2013, Poetic Republic Portfolio Prize 2012, The Frogmore Poetry Prize 2011,  The New Writer Poetry Competition (Collection category) 2010, TNW Poetry Competition (Single Poem category) 2009 and Envoi International Poetry Compeition 2009. Her website.
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Artwork: Jenny Meilihove

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Coming in from the barn after chores

The moon was full and it was cold
enough to make a crust on top
of snow that lay two feet deep or
more — an even sheet of white
across the pasture field between
the orchard and the maple hedge.
The crust was thick and held my weight.
I ran for hours over fallen stars.

Perhaps I almost flew.

.
this / split / piece
of firewood was once
a (live) tree
hornet’s nest, vacated,
sways from twig of leafless tree

. – time flies



FROSTY DAY 
 
Aspen
leaves all fallen
off, de-tessellated
from twigs – leaving trees with no notes
to sing.

E.E. Nobbs

E.E. Nobbs lives in Charlottetown Prince Edwards Island, Canada. Snow and long winters play a huge role in her life, and she always keeps two hot water bottles handy – in case one springs a leak. She won the Doire Press Second International Poetry Chapbook Contest this year, and her chapbook The Invisible Girl (Doire Press, 2013) can be ordered direct from the author: ellyfromearth.

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Artwork: Heidi Mallet

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Sharon Black

Sharon Black: Featured Poet

Unborn

(after Iona)

It’s how I pictured you
– marram-blond, naked of trees,
your fingers steeped in sand,

lying on a sea-blue blanket, swaddled
in soft grey clouds and sky,
joined to me by bedrock.

You were always going to be the gentle one.
Above the abbey, white pigeons
write your name in cursive script;

waves flutter high upon the beach,
all thoughts of blue suddenly interrupted;
luminous green pebbles shed themselves in the bay.

You came to me too late – me, the mainland,
already with whole civilisations to support,
my head was full of earth and clouds.

At the hospital they said your stone
had been warming for five weeks.
I swallowed pills; you washed away.

Today I leave you again, on the ferryboat to Mull –
in its wake, an umbilical cord of froth
connecting the islands –

and when I turn at Fionnphort you are
small enough to fit in my hand
as if you had simply floated to the surface,

as if you were simply sleeping on the horizon
of someone else’s palm.

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Sharon Black is originally from Glasgow but now lives in the Cévennes mountains of southern France with her husband and their two young children. In her past life she was a journalist and taught English in France and Japan. In her current one she runs a small retreat and organizes creative writing holidays (www.abricreativewriting.com). Her poetry has been published widely in journals such as Agenda, Aesthetica, Envoi, Iota, Mslexia, Orbis, The Frogmore Papers and The Interpreter’s House. She won The Frogmore Prize 2011, The New Writer Competition 2010 for Best Poetry Collection and Envoi International Poetry Prize 2009. Her first collection, To Know Bedrock, is published by Pindrop Press. www.sharonblack.co.uk