Conversations - Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival 2019

Two weeks have already passed since the first of two 2019 Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival events took place at Sterts Theatre, Cornwall. This was our second year co-curating (more on the first year here) and we have some photos from the day, so please take a look below.

We themed the day around ‘conversations’, pairing poets up to read from their work and talk about it. The pairings were: Jen Hadfield and Isabel Galleymore; Mona Arshi and Gillian Allnutt; Fiona Benson and Ann Gray; Rae Armantrout and Rachael Allen.

On top of the conversations we had a launch performance of Petero Kalulé’s Kalimba involving half a dozen instruments, a workshop on poetry and mysticism with Sarah Cave, and an exhibition by the artist Donya Todd. We also made a special very limited edition letterpress print of a new Jen Hadfield poem for the festival, printing it with Alan Qualtrough and Jen at Alan’s studio in Plymouth the day before. The festival’s poetry shop was provided by Amanda at Lost-in-Books.

The conversations were really interesting, highlights including Rae Armantrout on language poetry and ecology, Jen and Izzy talking about scientific language and anthropomorphism, Mona and Gillian on working with refugees, and Fiona and Ann’s beautifully curated journey through their own and one another’s work. Petero’s improvisation of Kalimba is always great to see, and as there was a piano in the Sterts studio he incorporated that, too – playing it conventionally, then plucking and hammering the strings and case.

If you have any more photos from the day please get in touch, and stay tuned for news of the second event in September, which is shaping up nicely...

Publisher's Diary - Kalimba

If you haven’t seen it already, check out Kalimba. We’re really proud of it. We’ve loved this book since we first received the text from Petero Kalulé.

It is one of the thrills of publishing to be among the first to read a manuscript, and publishing debut poets is just the best. Petero’s Kalimba joins a string of fantastic debuts – Amy McCauley’s Oedipa, for instance, Nic Stringer’s a day that you happen to know, and Karl O’Hanlon’s and now they range – and we have lots more to come.

The poetry of Kalimba was immediately striking. It was playful, surprising and musical. It surprised us again when we saw a different iteration of the text, with Petero performing at Chener Bookshop in East Dulwich, reading the poetry like a musical score with flute, saxophone and bells.

The cover image is by Ria Gunton, a young illustrator from Plymouth who has been creating a series of images for us this year, including for Rowan Evans’s The Last Verses of Beccan and a forthcoming title from Isabel Galleymore. You can see a little more of Ria’s work on her Instagram page and on her website (where you can buy yourself one of her yeti badges). The idea for this book was to turn the book itself into a Kalimba, complete with acoustic hole.

The ‘acoustic hole’ was cut out using a die and a 1920s Thompson letterpress. The process was not without its problems, but intriguingly the issue was not with the 90-year-old letterpress but with the modern digital printer, which was printing imprecisely and unpredictably. The wonderful old letterpress was hitting the paper perfectly each time.

Kalimba is having a couple of London performance and launch events in the following locations:

·       17th May, 7.30pm – Hundred Years Gallery

·       22nd May, 7pm – South London Gallery

These will be rounded off by a visit to Cornwall, where Petero will be taking up a short Roger & Laura Farnworth Arts Residency on Bodmin Moor and reading at the Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival on 25th May, with a line up that includes Rae Armantrout, Rachael Allen, Mona Arshi, Jen Hadfield, Gillian Allnutt, Isabel Galleymore, Fiona Benson and Ann Gray, as well as an exhibition by Donya Todd and a poetry workshop with Sarah Cave.

Some photos of the Kalimba publishing process are in the gallery below, if you’d like to flick through.