The Guillemot Attempts Flight

The launch of our first title, Jack Clemo’s short story The Clay-Dump, with artwork by Tony Martin, was held on Friday night, on Jack Clemo’s 100thbirthday. We went deep into the heart of the China Clay country near St Austell, Clemo’s native landscape, to Wheal Martyn China Clay Park and Museum. Wheal Martyn is a fascinating site, the highlight being the viewing platform over the working Wheal Martyn pit, and the museum currently has an exhibition about Clemo’s life and writing in the foyer, with the poet’s writing desk and typewriter.

We spread out our wares on a table at the café entrance as preparations for the event began, then settled in for an evening of apocalyptic rural-industrial clayscape symbolism. There were readings of Clemo’s poetry from Luke Thompson and Causley House poet-in-residence Isabel Galleymore, followed by a performance of one of Clemo’s early Cornish dialect stories from Rabbit Theatre’s David Mynne. Contrasting Clemo’s early rejection of the natural world, Jane Darke introduced The Wrecking Season, a film about beachcombing made with her husband, the playwright Nick Darke. Rounding off the evening was Philip Marsden, reading from Rising Ground, his book about Cornwall, which includes a chapter on Clemo and the clays.

It was a pleasant evening, and we were proud to launch Guillemot Press and The Clay-Dump on such a unique occasion.