Author Archive

Last week saw the final date in the short tour that promoted Murder of Krows 2.

With audiences averaging around 15 per night (excluding performers!) Abigail Wyatt and I felt that

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the tour was a great success.

A few Cornish Lit readers have suggested that people might be interested in a brief explanation of how one goes about organizing the production of a poetry anthology and tour.  So, if this is something that you are thinking of doing yourself, read on….

The first hurdle you may need to get over is the one of self-justification.  This is something that I have addressed in the “Afterword” of Murder of Krows 2.  The two fundamental questions are:

  • Is my work/ the work of others that I like or respect worth publishing?
  • Is publishing my own work “vanity” publishing with all the negative connotations that go with that word?

This depends on several factors: many respected poets begin by publishing  their own work; many small poetry presses are run by one or two people yet command a great deal of respect from lovers of serious poetry (examples include Barque Press and Punch Press).  Often these operations are just a couple of people with a passion for language and the means of production.

What makes you any different?

The flipside of the argument is that there is an awful lot of poetry out there.  There is also an awful lot of inadequate or poorly edited poetry out there. There is also an awful lot of poetry as therapy.  Are you going to add to what is essentially poetic detritus or does the work you stand behind have something to say which people may be interested in?

Don Paterson (who I don’t always agree with) states:  “serious poets, I should say, don’t start off amateurs, but apprentices – just like any other vocation”.  Therefore, it may well be wise to heed this when considering putting work out there.  Just because you’ve written it/ read it and liked it doesn’t mean it’s ready.

So how do you know its ready?  You don’t – not really.  Having said this, here are a few ways in which you could gauge whether there is sufficient interest in the work you have produced or are representing.

  • Have you performed it at open mic nights/poetry readings?  Do people give you feedback?
  • Have you made contact with more established poets who you respect and asked them what they think? Many are prepared to do this although obviously not all of them.
  • Have you published any of your poems previously?  Where?  Did your receive any reactions?

So now I have discussed the issues of whether to publish, let’s consider how.

Murder of Krows 2 looks reasonably professional (so people tell me!).  It was designed on a MacBook using Microsoft Word 2011.  This is hardly ultra high-tech.  Therefore, I would suggest some kind of visual eye and common sense are all you need to design a reasonably good looking poetry pamphlet.  Hopefully, so far you have noticed my repetition of the word “design”; making the hard copy of a poetry book can be a little more challenging as well as expensive.

When it comes to producing hard copy you have two options: amateur or professional – both of which have their advantages.

An amateur collection can be produced on a photocopier for next to nothing.  If you can recruit some friends who are half way decent artists then you can even make it look quirky and interesting in a 1970s “Sniffin’ Glue” kind of way.  This is a perfect if you want to get your work out there and sell it cheaply.  There are also independent bookstores that, if you are polite and gracious, may be willing to stock it sale or return.  A few pieces of advice: don’t make the mistake I made with the first Murder of Krows by making the writing too small or copyrighting each author’s name under the poem which is entirely unnecessary.  Look at other poetry collections to get an idea of style and layout and what to include.

The professional option is only appropriate if you have a lump of spare cash, complete belief in the work and a relentless energy when it comes to promoting it.  Abi and I decided to “publish” Murder of Krows 2 with higher production values because we believed in the work (not to denigrate any contributors to the first one) and felt that this was appropriate this time.  In addition to this, we had managed to persuade some well-established writers who we respected to submit.  This meant that we were able to use this to potentially sell more copies than we would have done otherwise.  This is an approach well worth taking but I would only suggest approaching people whose work you genuinely admire, (and that you are able to substantiate this admiration) otherwise your opportunism will quickly become apparent.

If you are still keen to go down this route, you need to make contact with a printer.  At this point I will give Booths in Penryn a completely shameless and unasked for plug as they did an excellent job of our anthology.  Local writer, illustrator and publisher, Chris Odgers of Sawhorse Books, also uses them and the production values apparent in his work are also to their credit.  Another factor to consider in depth is how many copies you should produce. My advice would be 50 unless you know you have an insatiable fan base.  Make sure you see a proof before printing and that you check it carefully otherwise you will have 50 inaccurate copies that you are legally obliged to pay for.

The penultimate stage in this process is promotion.  Realistically, you are not going to sell any books to people who are not friends and family unless you promote very thoroughly.  The reading for the first Murder of Krows attracted thirty plus people but it was promoted on this blog, the local papers and Radio Cornwall.  In addition I sent “press packs” to every bookshop in Cornwall as well as putting up posters everywhere and e-mailing and texting everyone I knew or had ever met.  I also asked Alan Kent to read which added an established name to the event.

A quick reminder: all of this attracted thirty people.  Don’t misunderstand me: thirty keen and enthusiastic supporters of the anthology but it was a lot of work getting them there!

A final point regarding promotion: please do not think that Facebook is the world just because you use it.  In my opinion, although it is valid – it is only one form of promotion and not an exceptionally high impact one at that.  Ask yourself: which is more striking – a well designed poster in a bookshop that you frequent or a Facebook update?

Of course before you promote your event you will need to have arranged venues, dates and have list of reliable performers (even if you are promoting your own work, you will need a “Support Act”).  Here are a list of venues that I have found to be supportive when trying to put on events:

In short go for local independent places but remember that they are doing you do the favour.  Don’t expect them to welcome you with open arms – do your homework and make sure people come otherwise their time has been wasted.

That’s about it.  I won’t give you my guide as to which are the most appropriate wines to go with a Sestinas (written in quadratic hexameters) as that may well be a bridge too far.

I hope this has been useful.  Please feel free to re-blog, re-post, re-quote or downright challenge or disagree with this advice.  However, I would appreciate being notified at lallocropia@gmail.com.

Finally (you knew it was coming) there are only 15 copies of Murder of Krows 2 left…..please buy them and make the world a more poetry loving, literate place.  Copies can be bought by e-mailing me at: lallocropia@gmail.com

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Call for submissions for Murder of Krows 2

Posted: April 15, 2013 by lallocropia in news, poetry

Duncan Yeates and Abigail Wyatt are inviting poets and artists to contribute to our next Murder of Krows* anthology.

The submission guidelines are as follows:

1)    All contributors should be resident in Cornwall.

2)    Poetry of a serious nature is looked on more favourably than comic or light-hearted verse.

3)    Please do not submit any more than two poems although there is no limit on length.

4)    All submissions should be e-mailed to either lallocropia@gmail.com or abigailelwyatt@rocketmail.com. Please submit poems as .doc or .pdf attachments where possible.

5)   Artwork can be any style or theme. All work should be black and white and scalable to A5 size. Please submit work as JPEGs.

6)    The closing date for all submissions is 1st June 2013.

*Murder of Krows is an anthology of poetry by published and previously unpublished Cornish poets. The first volume was launched at the Melting Pot Café at Redruth in March 2013 and proved to be a great success, selling out its print run and attracting guest readings from Dr Alan M Kent and Les Merton. If you would like to get a feel for the content and style of the first anthology, a PDF of it is available by e-mailing lallocropia@gmail.com. There are also a very limited number of copies left at the price of £2.00 inc. P+P – again please e-mail lallocropia@gmail.com if you wish to purchase one.

There will also be opportunity for all contributors tor read at the anthology’s launch night at The Melting Pot Café.

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images2Voog’s Ocean: a historical drama embedded with magic realist and spiritual overtones and a poetic and compelling new novel from Alan M Kent.

Readers of Kent’s previous novelistic output such as the social realist trilogy of Charlie Curnow books may be initially surprised that Kent has now shifted his attention to the opposite end of the historical spectrum. However, this dovetails exactly with what appears to be one of Kent’s key themes in his writing: a thorough and thoughtful examination of the Cornish identity and the Duchy’s impact on the wider world.

The geographical sweep and attention to detail in this novel is superb. Beginning in West Cornwall Kent introduces us to a fogou builder named Voog – who, after an unforgiveable indiscretion at the expense of a local village chief, is banished from his home. Displaced, he undertakes an epic seagoing journey assisted by a broad cast of unusual characters, many of who represent the evolving dynamic between pagan spirituality and the emergence of Christianity. Without wishing to ruin the plot of the novel Voog’s final stop on his journey works as an intelligent foreshadowing of Cornish migratory patterns in years to come.

The most striking thing about Kent’s writing in Voog’s Ocean is its sheer lyricism; something fitting with both the period in which the novel is set and the tone of many of our remaining stories from this era. It is also worth remarking on the verisimilitude of Voog’s voice. Having read countless novels where the narrator’s voice is clearly that of the author; it is refreshing to see in Kent’s sensitive and sparing use of dialect the cadences of Cornish speech. In addition to this I would commend to the reader’s attention the insight and understanding contextually relevant to Voog’s status: he knows what he knows and is an engaging and convincing narrator because of this. However, fans of the earthy humour and honesty Kent evinces in much of his written output will also not be disappointed. This is mainly due to the fact that although gifted with a poetic, storytelling voice Voog does not flinch from Kent’s trademark dark humour or covering the more unsavoury elements of the period.

As well as being a meticulously well-researched historical novel, Kent’s narrative also makes some interesting use of magic realism. This dovetails well with our lack of concrete knowledge of the era, and the myths and legend prevalent at this time – many of which were created by travellers such as Voog.

Rooted in Cornwall but with an acute awareness of the Duchy’s context in world history, Voog’s Ocean represents another positive phase of Kent ‘s journey to establish and delineate the specifics of Cornish identity.

Following the “Call for Submissions” post in the Cornish Lit blog last year, Duncan Yeates and Abigail Wyatt are delighted to announce the launch of their poetry anthology, “Murder of Krows” on 20th March at 7:00 pm at The Melting Pot, Redruth.

Featuring guest readings from the prolific and talented Alan M. Kent alongside Les Merton, the editor of “Poetry Cornwall”, this promises to be both an exciting and significant occasion to make space for in your diary.  The anthology itself is a selection of local poets from the Redruth area and beyond and gives an insight into the sheer diversity of work being produced in the small community of people who often convene to perform their work at The Melting Pot’s late opening Wednesday nights. In addition to this are other previously published and well respected poets such as John Phillips, and visual artists who work with language such as Janet McEwan, ensuring that this is a collection of work that really does showcase what Cornwall has to offer.

The night itself will include a free buffet and drinks for all who attend and a chance to buy a copy of this numbered and strictly limited anthology at the sum of £1.00.  If you are interested in purchasing an advance copy, please contact Duncan Yeates at lallocropia@gmail.com.

Please come and support Cornwall’s burgeoning creative writing scene. We intend that this anthology will be the first of many to promote Cornwall’s many published and unpublished writers.

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Spoken Word Stage at Dance of Days Festival

Posted: November 3, 2012 by lallocropia in poetry

Lovers of good quality Spoken Word performance as well as those with an interest in Avant-Garde Film, Underground Music and Crafts should head over to the Fish Factory at Falmouth on Saturday 28th November. 

Why?

Because the indefatigable Lee McIntyre has been busy organising an all day festival: “Dance of Days”, which includes a plethora of underground talent as well as an excellent Spoken Word Stage curated by Craig Taylor Broad whose last poetry collection, In Absence of Clear Conscience was reviewed by Pete on this blog earlier in the year. Confirmed performers of the Spoken Word Stage include:

Craig Taylor Broad

Abi Wyatt

Duncan Yeates

Chris Muirhead

Aaron Kent

Other highlights include music from: Big Words, Rhoda, Heathens Howl, Big Wave, Flashes  and Monolithian as well as craft stalls and screenings of underground films.

You can find out more information by clicking this link. Tickets can be bought from here and most importantly directions can be found here.

Please help support Cornwall’s creative arts scene by buying a ticket!