Tag Archives: Pardalote Press

Two new poems

The sharing spirit of National Poetry Week has continued…

The delightful Gabrielle Bryden has featured my poem, Empty Creel on her site today and my poem, Bali Sunrise, is currently featured on the SPUNC site as part of their Spring 2011 Poetry Feature alongside Robert Adamson, Paul Hardacre, Michael Farrell, Anna Kerdijk-Nicholson and Luke Beesley. Now that is fine company!

Happy reading,

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A conversation with Patricia Prime

Digging through some old (and not so old) magazines and journals last night was a really productive experience… The Strange Conversations I posted last night really lit up the memory sensors as did this interview I did with Patricia Prime (first published in Simply Haiku and then in Takahe). Enjoy!

 

Graham Nunn Interviewed by Patricia Prime

 

PP:  Your poetry seems to contain many references to your family and your personal experiences.  Literary scholars usually distinguish between the author and the persona or speaker in a poem.  To what extent would you say this distinction applies to your poetry, or, to put it differently, how much of Graham Nunn is to be found in your work?  Here, as an example, is your poem “The Party’s Over”, which seems to recapture one of your own experiences, but could equally apply to any young party-goer:

the last song has played
the crow is calling
and we’ve run out of ice
the girls have all left
ands are drowning
in plastic cups
the ex-wife is pinned
to the dartboard
the dog has jumped the fence
/the fence holds in emptiness/
morality is covered in dust
and I sit
staring at the walls
empty of sound
for the moment

GN: I agree that there is a lot of me in my poems. I am not afraid to show myself, but I do try to write from a broader perspective, to let the reader into the poem. You can be too personal and there are some poems that I certainly don’t take out of the bottom drawer. The struggle between the author and persona is something that all artists experience. I remember hearing Nick Cave speak once about his album The Boatmans Call. He said that he liked the album less and less as the years passed as he could see too much of himself in the songs. Personally, I love the songs on that album for the same reason Nick dislikes them. They are songs that reveal the author, but allow the listener to make their own connections and create their own reality. This is something I try and do with my own work.

 

PP:  Do you think that the reader often identifies with the speaker in your poems?

GN: I hope that the reader can identify with my poems, interact with them, bring their own life experience to them and on some level, make the stories their own.

 

PP:  Would you consider yourself to be a “confessional” poet”?

GN: Not at all… I certainly share some truths about my life experience through my poems, but in no way am I writing these as confessionals. Writing for me is not a cathartic experience. It is a means of taking a story, an idea, a feeling and putting together the right words to allow the reader to experience it in their own way.

 

PP:  You seem to start out from a simple thought or idea but the imagery you use is often complex, full of projections, transformations, shifts of perspective.  So you make demands on your reader’s imagination.  Is that an important part of your craft for you?

GN: I like to think that there is a simple core at the heart of all my poems. Something tangible for the reader to hang on to, but I also like the reader to have to open their eyes and mind to get the complete experience. Language should be used to challenge the imagination and have the reader engage with the poem’s subject on a deeper level.

 

PP:  I detect you are inspired by the ordinary things we as humans do, that we pretend not to notice.  To what extent would you say your work conforms to this pattern?

GN: I am in love with the ordinary. My partner actually refers to me as vanilla.Too many people spend  their lives searching for the extraordinary, when there is beauty in the boiling of  a kettle, the opening of a door, the pattern of dust on the window sill. I like to live simply and enjoy the small things. I find that this helps to keep my senses sharp.

 

PP:  Are there poems you wouldn’t publish because they’re too intimate, too personal?

GN: I think everyone has a stash of poems that they wouldn’t publish for some reason. Sometimes for me it is beceause they are too personal, but more often than not it is because they just don’t translate for anyone else. They don’t have the space to let anyone else in. And let’s face it… some are just not up to scratch!

 

graham-nunn-reading-at-leonard-cohen-tribute

 

PP:  I find many glimpses of humour in your work, so I was wondering how important humour is for you, with regard to your work?

GN: Humour is not something I ever aim to achieve in my writing. I have never actively set out to write a funny poem. Humour is something that naturally finds its way into my work at times. I live a very happy existence and love to laugh, so it is only natural that my sense of humour shines through at times.

 

PP:  How much attention do you pay to stylistic elements?  In what ways do you work on syntax, phrasing, finding the right words to communicate your story?

GN: I certainly pay more attention to the finer details now. I used to be very much about getting things down and putting them out there, without a whole lot of editing. More the first thought, best thought approach, but I have started to move away from that in recent years. Now when I write, I still try and turn off the editing brain, but once I have it down, I like to put it away and then come back to it a few days later, see if it still resonates. If it does, I like to pull it apart, look at each word and see how it is working, examine line breaks, the poems appearance on the page. I guess it is much like a mechanic approaches a car engine. I want to fine tune it, so that it performs the best it can on and off the page.

 

PP:  It would be interesting to learn more about your method of working.  Is there a strict time scheme you stick to when writing?

GN: When I first started to become serious about my writing, I would be really disciplined and set aside chunks of time in my daily routine to write. This approach really worked for me. I would get up each morning, walk the dogs, come home, eat breakfast and then sit down for 45mins and just write. During the last four years, my approach has not been as disciplined, due to the various other roles I have taken on outside of my full time teaching job (running the monthly event SpeedPoets, taking on the role of Artistic Director, QLD Poetry Festival 2004 – 2007, starting Small Change Press), but I always have time marked aside on my calendar to write and I have become much better at finding 5 or 10 minutes in the middle of the daily hustle and bustle to get ideas down. The thing I have always maintained is when I sit down to write, I write. There is no such thing as a blank page at the end of a session. As a writer, I understand that there is no good stuff without bad stuff, so when I do get time to write I make sure I put words on paper and review it later. In that sense, it is like any work… you have some great moments and some that are better forgotten.

 

PP:  Why did you decide to become a publisher?

GN: I am incredibly passionate about getting new voices heard. Small Change Press is all about investing in the local community, and providing emerging poets with the chance to publish and get their work out to a wider audience. Our focus is on poets whose work performs on and off the page, on poets who can connect with a live audience and a reader. Our method of distribution is different to the traditional publisher. We are more about putting our authors in front of people and giving them the opportunity to let their words connect.

 

PP:  You are a publisher of other people’s poetry.  How does the publishing of their poetry affect your own work?

GN: Obviously the people that we have published are people that I have a great deal respect for, as human beings and as poets. Their work inspires me to stay true to what we set out to do as an independent press and that is to publish work that has its own clear vision and unique voice and is capable of translating both to the reader/listener. Being around quality poets and quality poetry, gives me the necessary nudge to constantly develop my own craft.

 

PP:  What are your own experiences with publishing your poetry?

GN: It was interesting publishing my fourth collection through the press in 2007. It wasn’t something that I had planned to do, but it has turned out really well. I sent the original manuscript away to Jacqueline Turner in Canada, for editing, so that David and myself didn’t have to get into any battles over decisions. Jacqueline did an amazing job, which made the whole process really easy. The launches and other readings were a huge success and it was great to be able to have a hands on approach to the whole project as well.

 

graham-nunn-reading-at-qpf-2005

 

PP:  Your biography is quite impressive, and also quite unusual for a writer.  Apart from appearing at numerous literary festivals, teaching, and publishing, you are also the Secretary of HaikuOz.  So, you obviously enjoy working with people and “taking your work out there”.  What is your view on performing poetry?  How much does an audience matter to you?

GN: The live setting for me is just as important as the writing process. I think to do your work justice, you need to pay equal attention to your skills as a performer. When you stand up in front of an audience, you owe it to yourself and to them to make sure you are well rehearsed. I cannot stand it when people shuffle paper, um and ah, shift around nervously and don’t know how to use a microphone. Poems need to perform on and off the page. I love performing and feel that getting up in front of an audience has helped keep my writing disciplined.

 

 
PP:  Do you feel you get a non-verbal response that’s quite strong when you’re reading to an audience?

GN: I love the interaction that takes place in a live setting. It never ceases to send a shiver up my spine. Even after hundreds of performances, standing behind a microphone with nothing more than your words is a rush. Looking into that sea of faces, having the opportunity to take this group of people on a journey. It is a really powerful thing. It is the most incredible feeling when you get that sense that you are all moving together.

 

 
PP:  Do you feel you are taking a risk by entering those different spaces?  Is it quite important for you to take risks as a writer?

GN: Putting your poetry out there in front of a live audience is always a risk. You cannot control how people will interact with your work. That is what makes it exciting, because in the end you can only control the quality of your performance and your writing. The audience to a large extent is out of your hands. For me, taking the risk and getting up in front of new audiences will always be extremely important. I love the gigs where you go and there are only 10 or 15 people there, and the room is big and you have to work really hard as much as the gigs where the room is full, the vibe is up and the audience are right there with you. It keeps everything fresh and in perspective.

 

PP:  Can you say something about your interest in haiku?

GN: Haiku was my doorway into poetry. In my mid-twenties I got turned on to Kerouac and read Desolation Angels. What stood out to me were the little poems that appeared often at the end of each piece of prose. They really lit the prose up, made everything immediate. I did my research and it wasn’t long until I had devoured Higginson’s Haiku Handbook, Basho’s, ‘On Love and Barley’ and the rest is really history. It is a form that I will never fall out of love with.

 

 
PP:  Following are some examples of your haiku taken from Famous Reporter 33.  Can you suggest the elements you consider go into the making of a “good” haiku?

clear river
the fisherman’s
un-netted reflection

breathless night
the cicadas
shut up

between the dunes
evening mist
piles up

GN: When you boil it down, it comes down to the ability of the poet to not only capture the essence of a moment, but to find the words that transcend the moment and give the haiku that feeling of eternity.

 

PP:  What is your involvement as Secretary of HaikuOz?

GN: I am really privileged to work as part of a dedicated, professional team. My role is to promote haiku related happenings to the community via the website and through the QLD Poetry Festival, I have had the opportunity to able to put on a series of workshops and haiku readings to continue the development of the local haiku community.

 

PP:  You have published a collection of your haiku, A Zen Firecracker.  Do you have another collection in the pipeline?

GN: In 2007 I was Poet-in-Residence at Brisbane’s Royal National Show (The Ekka). I wrote a series of 30 haiku, 10 of which were used as part of some public art projects in and around the Ekka Shwgrounds and the Museum of Brisbane. I am also currently working on a manuscript that will integrate haiku. Always new projects on the boil!

 

graham-nunn-lphr08

 

 
PP:  What led you to writing prose poetry as in the haibun that you so successfully write?

GN: I had a whole series of scribblings, bits and pieces of haiku like writing that wasn’t working just as haiku, so I decided to turn my hand to haibun and the results have been really satisfying. As soon as I started writing, the form brought out the best in the ideas that I had at the time. The end result, Measuring the Depth, was a really important step forward for me. I learned a lot about myself as a writer and felt that I gained a lot of discipline during the writing of that collection. 

 

PP:  Many examples of your haibun that I’ve read are quite short: perhaps one or two paragraphs followed by a haiku.  Could you summarise the reason for the brevity of your pieces?  Here is one example I particularly like which we published in Kokako 6:

 

In a Heartbeat

She slips off her stockings and throws them at my feet.  Pulls her hair back and sits in front of me on the bed.  Tells me it’s $200 straight or $250 for that little bit extra.   My eyes drift out the window.  The sun-bloodied sky is slicing through the hotel blinds, streaming through her hair.  She pours another whiskey and crawls over me.

a heartbeat later
leaving my longing
inside her

 

GN: Brevity is something that I have always admired in all forms of writing. I like the fact that what you leave out is just as important as what you leave in. I like bringing the reader to the poem and then giving them the bones. I don’t like to give too much away. It is important that the reader/audience has room to interact with the poem and move in and out of the images.

 

PP:  You recently published your partner Julie Beveridge’s collection of haibun Home is where the Heartache is (Small Change Press, 2007).  What is it like living in a household containing two writers, both of them working in the same genre?  Do you share ideas, edit each other’s poems or work together in any way?

GN: I love the sharing of ideas that happens in our house. I had the absolute pleasure of editing Julie’s collection. It was a brilliant experience and one that I would happily take on again. Editing someone elses work and having your work edited teaches you a lot about your own writing. I  think that this is something that is sadly lacking in the poetry community. Quality feedback is often hard to find!

 

PP:  Can you identify some poets who have inspired you?

GN: The poets who inspire me most are the people that I work closely with. Jacqueline Turner is a huge inspiration to me. Her work is such a rush. No matter how many times I read her work it is always fresh and exciting. Rob Morris and Matt Hetherington who I have had the pleasure of publishing through Small Change Press constantly remind me of why I love poetry. David Stavanger, co-founder of Small Change Press, is always reminding me of the importance of taking risks. Rowan Donovan, is always there to remind me of grace and humility and my partner Julie is so grounded, so honest. She keeps everything real and is never afraid to shoot straight.

 

PP:   Do you have any thoughts about how to anticipate the future of your work?

GN: I guess I anticipate that I will be doing this until I am no longer able to to do it for whatever reason. It’s like Bukowski said, ‘if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die, or it dies in you.’

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Where do the Words Come From #1 – Karen Knight

This Lost Shark is always seeking answers. Dialogue keeps us moving forward. In this series, I am asking poets where the words come from – the influences, the process, the themes, how it’s changed. Tasmanian poet and collaborator, Karen Knight is first to respond.

karen-knight

Influences

I started writing from a very early age due to a strong family influence. Both parents were artistic. Dad was a piano and singing teacher and composer. Mum was a singer and a speech and drama teacher, they both wrote poetry and short stories, so there was never a shortage of books and music in the house. Both brothers played guitar and at one stage my youngest brother brought a euphonium into the house.
When I was 12, I wrote some lyrics to a piece of music Dad composed and it was published by Allans, in sheet music form, so that was pretty exciting. 

Around the age of 15, Dylan Thomas’ poetry had such a profound effect on me that I decided then and there I wanted to become a serious writer. The Beat Poets, The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Led Zeppelin guided me into the literary world and I had my first poem published by Poetry Australia when I was 19.

Nowadays I always listen to music when I write. Groups like Massive Attack, Left Field and Portishead certainly put me into the right frame of mind (I like the dark stuff). For a few years now there have been two poets, Billy Collins and Matthew Sweeney who have had a similar effect on me that Dylan Thomas had when I was younger. I always want to write when I read their work. I used to jot down my drafts on paper, but now I like to feed the computer, I can see the structure/shape of my poems a lot quicker this way.

I don’t have any political influences and landscape not very often, except when I am commissioned to write something that relates to landscape and then I suprise myself as to how much it does influence me, sub-consciously.

When I was in Scotland a couple of years ago staying in a pod at the artist’s retreat, Cove Park, which is in the West Coast area, the landscape inspired me greatly and I had no problem writing about it, because it was different to anything I’d experienced before. The hills, the lochs, the black faced sheep, the Highland cows, the wild blaeberries, etc. In some parts, the farmed trees were so dense, your eyes had to adjust, because it was like looking at them through 3D.

 

The writing process

I usually agonise as to how to start a poem and the titles are always difficult for me, as I love quirky titles, especially one word titles and I also love deceptively simple words and images in poetry, so I try keep that in mind when I’m writing down the first drafts. I usually hone in and craft the initial idea as quickly as possible, but I usually find there are two poems in what I’m trying to say so I have to work through that raw process, then put the poem aside and come back to it each day with new eyes and a fresh approach, preferably in the mornings.

 I would love to say that the words just flow for me, but they don’t, they never have and I lack confidence in my ability at times, which can be damaging. I like to read the work aloud as it helps me with the rhythms and patterns. And even when I think it’s finished I usually send it to two close poet friends of mine who have great skill in picking up on the tiniest details. They give their valued opinions and constructive criticisms. There are usually changes to be made, particularly with line breaks and grammar, they’re not my strongest points as I’m usually too swept up with my images to worry initially about the structure.  So as you can see, it’s a long, drawn out process and sometimes it takes me weeks to write just a few lines and certainly a long process to get it to the final stage of sending the work out to a publisher.

I’m also very reader conscious which can be agonising at times.

My favourite place to write is Varuna- The Writers House in the Blue Mountains. I swear there are creative ghosts up there guiding my hand, but it’s probably because there are no distractions and they have a resident cook.

I relate strongly to Philip Larkin’s description of his daily routine as – work all day, then cook, then eat, wash up, telephone, hack writing, drink and T.V. in the evenings. I almost never go out.

 

Where the voice(s) comes from

My emotions trigger the voices and that’s usually somewhere deep in my psyche that elbows me when we’re ready. It could be something I’ve read, heard or seen, it’s unpredictable. I remember when I heard Walt Whitman inviting me to buy an old National Geographic Book that was in a Red Cross bookshop window. I went in and bought it for 10 cents and there was an incredible spread about him and his life, things I didn’t know about him, he was a voluntary wound dresser during the American Civil War, he donated his brain to science and when he died, a young laboratory assistant dropped Whitman’s brain and it had to be thrown away. It was riveting stuff to come across and for two years I researched Whitman’s life and the American Civil War until I finished my previous collection Under the One Granite Roof – Poems for Walt Whitman (Pardalote Press, 2004)

 It’s an incredible rush when something like this happens to you, where a whole collection of poems can arise out of reading an article. I wish it could happen all the time.

 

Recurring themes

Definitely birds keep popping up all over the place throughout my poetry. I have a great affinity with birds and have always had them as pets, rescued and reared many wild birds and set them free, so they appear subconsciously throughout my collections, even in my new book Postcards from the Asylum (Pardalote Press) it’s been pointed out to me that there are quite a few references to birds. So there is definitely recurring themes in my work. I like to work with specific themes now, particularly since I started applying for grants, as it’s easier to sell your idea if you are focused on one theme.

 

How have my feelings about poetry, the reading and writing of, changed since I first started writing?

Poems I wrote in my teens were way too obscure, too dramatic and too surreal. I was hiding beneath my words and in love with the idea of being a writer. I dressed accordingly, read all the trendy books, wanted to be seen with writers, be linked romantically to poets, but I didn’t put enough time and effort into the writing process. I needed life experience to sort me out, which it has.

I don’t read as much poetry as I used to. But now and then I will go through a phase where I come across work that will have an incredible impact on me for e.g. Luke Davies is high on my list at the moment, not only his poetry but his novels. I’ve just finished reading ‘God of Speed’ and couldn’t put it down. ‘Totem’ is one of the finest poetry I’ve read in ages. I’m also always eager to see any new works from Ian McBryde as he never disappoints.

I think T.S. Eliot got it wrong when, in terms of philosophy and society, he said that the modern world was complex and various, so therefore poetry also had to be.

Billy Collins has taught me a lot about writing poetry. He imagines he has someone in the room with him, who he’s talking to, when he’s writing, and he has to make sure he’s not talking too fast or too glibly. He writes about simple, every day things, but with such depth and empathy, he shatters you with his summations. These are the goals I hope to achieve as I continue writing.

I suppose I keep trying to follow Dylan Thomas’ philosophy on writing poetry, that it should make the toenails twinkle. I like to stir the emotions in my readers. I  believe that poetry should touch other human beings, not just to entertain, but to give comfort and stay with them for a while.

I like to make other poets envious.

 

It’s a Girl-Interrupted Dream

The inmates love me, they think
I’m a rainbow-flavoured icecream.

Ladies-in-waiting scrub my restless skin
and put away my loved-out jeans.

I get to watch the same Paul Newman
movie             every week.
I read the Penny Dreadfuls
from the one-shelf library,
stamped ‘donated by the
Australian Red Cross’.

I have my own room, with a double-locked
door and all the boiled mutton I can eat.
On Sundays, the anxious ones
show me cowboys and Indians
with roast gristle and three veg.

On river picnics I sit with a long-termer
and consider the strength of the current.
There’s talk of a cure for this lunatic calm.
Everyone has a lagoon breakout
now and then, their sandbanks
crumbling like halva.
Finally, I’m part of this mad scene.

(from  Postcards from the Asylum, Pardalote Press)

 

About Karen:

Karen Knight’s poetry has won her many awards, including the Dorothy Hewett Flagship Fellowship from Varuna, The Writer’s House. Since the late 1960’s, her poetry has consistently appeared in literary journals, newspapers and anthologies, including Best Australian Poems 2005. In 2007, Karen travelled to Scotland on a three week International Writers Exchange funded by Varuna and the UNESCO City of Literature in Edinburgh. She has written five collections of poetry to which she has received three Arts Tasmania grants and an Australia Council grant.  Her current  collection, Postcards from the Asylum (Pardalote Press) won the 2007 Arts ACT Alec Bolton Award for an unpublished manuscript. Karen often collaborates with other writers, visual artists, painters, scientists and musicians. Some of her work has been translated into Tamil and set to music by a New York composer. She has recently completed a collaborative work Twinset (Knucker Press, UK)  with Scottish writer, Dilys Rose.

 

Read a review of Postcards from the Asylum here
Purchase the book here

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Jumping the Poetic Hurdle (part 5) – an interview with Lyn Reeves

The final interview in the series with small publishers is with Lyn Reeves from Pardalote Press. There will be future interviews with online publishers, but for now, let’s see what Lyn has to say about the current state of poetry publishing and distribution in Australia.

 

As a small press publisher, what do you see are the major challenges for the publication and distribution of poetry in 21st century?

Recently I attended the Publishers’ Market run by Australian Poetry Centre at Glenfern. An informal forum, ‘Is Poetry Worth Publishing’ identified marketing and distribution as the main problems faced by small press publishers. Another area we discussed was the difficulty of getting our books reviewed in major newspapers and journals. However, we didn’t come up with any real answers.

Other major challenges are lack of resources – time, staff and money. Most poetry presses are run by poets, simply for the love of doing it. These poets have to find time for their own writing, and the tension of balancing both pursuits is not easy to resolve.

It’s not inexpensive to produce books, and if sales aren’t returning the outlay and bringing in enough to keep the press afloat, it will fold. Print runs are usually small, which increases the cost per unit. Booksellers and distributors take up to 70% of the RRP; the royalty to the author is another 10%. This doesn’t leave much for the publisher once printing and design costs are met. Direct marketing is the most efficient way to sell, and to avoid the books languishing in bookshops, becoming shop-soiled and unsaleable. Pardalote Press has been fortunate in receiving a number of grants, donations and sponsorships to produce its books and enable it to keep going, but it isn’t a profit-making venture.

The most challenging area for Pardalote, as for many other small presses, is promotion. I run the press alone, facilitating all aspects of proofreading, design and printing. These are the things I enjoy and can do well, but marketing is not one of my skills. Though I’ve tried a range of approaches to getting the word out – website, media releases and review copies, launches, emails, mail-outs, distributors, advertising – I’ve found that the most successful way to sell is through the authors themselves. When authors are active in giving workshops and readings and promoting their books in other ways, they usually manage to sell a good number of their books. Hopefully SPUNC (Small Press Underground Networking Community) will help address some of the difficulties in promoting to a wider audience than small presses can afford to reach on their own.

 

Why is poetry, an art that arguably best reflects the speed at which we absorb ideas, information and imagery, is being neglected by corporate publishing houses and distributors throughout Australia?

It’s a reflection of the fact that poetry isn’t a money-earner and the corporate publishing houses are interested in the bottom line. Poetry doesn’t have a high profile in our society. There are the well-known Australian names like Les Murray and Dorothy Porter but the main audience for poetry is other poets. Poetry is considered an esoteric and fringe activity by mainstream culture. The general public would rather buy books on sport or gardening or biographies of celebrities or, when it comes to literature, books by writers they’ve heard of. Even when some boutique bookshops stock poetry they rarely take more than a few copies, and these are usually hidden at the back of the shop somewhere out of sight.

‘Reader Education’ can help overcome some of this resistance, and there’s often talk about how to do this, but it does need effort, funding and coordination to be effective. I’ve found that when, as a poet, I’ve been involved in taking readings to new audiences outside the literary community, people are generally very positive about poetry.

Small presses have arisen in response to the decline in interest by the corporate publishers, to meet the need for poets’ voices to be heard and read. I doubt if any of them actually make money out publishing, but that’s not the point of it, though it would be nice.

My own experience with using a national distributor wasn’t successful, so I’ve set up a shopping cart on my website. I still rely on the poets to let people know their work is available, and to personally sell and promote their books. Pardalote also hosts books by a number of other Tasmanian poets on its site.

 

Do you see a light at the end of the tunnel? What is the future of poetry publishing and distribution?

That does seem like a pretty bleak picture but people will go on writing and reading poetry, so there will always be the need to share their words abroad.

I don’t think of it as being inside a dark tunnel. I think you have to accept your limitations as a small press, the appeal of poetry to a large market, and work within those parameters. It’s more like being in a field adjacent to the bigger marketplace, but that field is full of the light of many voices, the joy of creativity, both in the writing of poems and the making and sharing of books. The rewards are in the doing. It would be nice to reach bigger audiences; as communicators we all want that. So we go on trying different approaches. And we do need to break even so that we can keep on producing the books.

Electronic delivery of poetry will play a greater role in publishing and distribution. There are more and more journals going online. Though it’s been slow to catch on, the e-book seems to be gaining more acceptance. The problem seems to be how to pay for the product, but in digital format it’s less expensive to produce. The internet will certainly play a role in making poetry more available, but the printed book won’t be ousted altogether. There’s something about the intimacy of poetry that harmonises with the tactile pleasure of a lovingly made book. We spend so much time in front of screens, it’s good to relax and get comfortable with a book. There’s less distraction and for me it’s a more focussed way to engage with the writing.

 

What is on the horizon for Pardalote?

Pardalote Press has been publishing poetry for a little over eight years now, beginning with a chapbook by Eric Beach, Red Heart, My Country. Initially I set out only to produce chapbooks, something affordable that could be sold at readings, but soon the lure of ‘the book’, beautifully designed and presented, took hold and I’ve continued to strive for a high standard in production values, as well as content, in the fourteen titles that make up the Pardalote list to date.

The most recent collection is Postcards from the Asylum by Karen Knight. The manuscript won the Alec Bolton Award in 2007 and is a powerful book. Reviews to date have been consistently stunning.

At the moment I’m editing a new collection of translations by Ian Johnston of ancient Chinese poetry, a sequel to Singing of Scented Grass, which has been my most successful book so far. The poems in Waiting for the Owl are taken from an earlier period, mostly from the Han Dynasty. That should be available some time later this year.

Because I work alone I can only do one manuscript a year, though there have been times when I’ve done two or three. I’d like to do more. I’ve had to send back some wonderful manuscripts by very fine poets that I would have loved to publish, and sometimes had to disappoint people I’ve had a tentative arrangement with, because life events made it necessary for me to cut back on how much publishing I could do. I try not to plan too far ahead. There’s another collection under way that may come out before or after the Chinese poems. But I’m also working on finalising a manuscript of my own that a publisher has offered to take up, and I’m doing some postgraduate study. It’s important to find time for my own poetry this year. At the moment I can’t accept any new submissions.

As well as producing these collections I need to empty my cupboards by selling more of the books that remain in unopened boxes, to make more room and bring in some funds to help with making more books. I wish for a marketing person, committed to poetry and willing to work for virtually no financial reward. Although I use a distributor in Tasmania, poetry really needs passionate representation that distributors don’t give it.

I often think it would be good to work with a small team of people with a mix of skills. That way we could get more poetry books out there, and there’s no shortage of worthwhile manuscripts to choose from. I’m also interested in the idea of e-books, especially for those titles that are out of print. Learning how to do that will be a whole new journey.

 

About Lyn:

Lyn Reeves is a poet, editor, managing director of Pardalote Press and an associate editor of the literary journal, Famous Reporter. She has collaborated with painters, print-makers, musicians, photographers, workers and scientists for various poetry events. Awards include grants from Arts Tasmania and the Australia Council, and residencies at Varuna, St. Helens, and Darwin. Lyn has been a featured reader at many festivals, including the Queensland Poetry Festival, Sydney Writers’ Festival, Word Storm, The Tasmanian Poetry Festivals, and at other venues in Tasmania and interstate. A collection of her haiku, Walking the Tideline, appeared in December 2001. Her poetry collection Speaking with Ghosts was published by Ginninderra Press in 2002. More recently, she has published two chapbooks, Beads (Picaro Press, 2007) and the ink brushed distance (Walleah Press, 2008). She is one of four poets whose work appears in the award-winning anthology Seasoned with Honey (Walleah Press, 2008).

Find out more:

http://www.pardalote.com.au
http://www.the-write-stuff.com.au/archives/vol-7/lyn_reeves/index.html
http://www.pardalote.com.au/authors/reevesl/
http://www.styluspoetryjournal.com/main/master.asp?id=395

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