Posts Tagged ‘rachel piercey’

The Emma Press is delighted to announce the publication of two new poetry pamphlets: Oils by Stephen Sexton and Rivers Wanted by Rachel Piercey.

Oils is Belfast poet Sexton’s debut pamphlet and features several poems inspired by paintings, including Peter Doig’s ‘Young Bean Farmer’ and Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’. Sexton is currently studying for a PhD at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in Belfast and he won the inaugural Funeral Services Northern Ireland National Poetry Competition in 2012. He recently won third prize in the Poetry London Competition with his poem ‘Elegy for Olive Oyl‘.

Rivers Wanted is the first full-length pamphlet from London poet Rachel Piercey, following on from her short booklet of love poems, The Flower and the Plough, which was the very first publication of the Emma Press. Piercey works at the Poetry Society in London and is a poetry editor at the Cadaverine magazine. In 2008 she won the prestigious Newdigate Prize, previously won by poets including Fiona Sampson, Andrew Motion and Oscar Wilde.

The pamphlets were launched in London on 16th October and will be launched in Belfast on 30th October at the Crescent Arts Centre, as part of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s. For more details about this event, please visit the festival website. Entry is free, but booking is essential.

About the Emma Press

The Emma Press is an independent publisher dedicated to producing books which are beautiful and thought-provoking. It was founded in 2012 in Winnersh, UK, by Emma Wright, formerly of Orion Books. The Emma Press has just been shortlisted in the 2014 Michael Marks Awards for poetry pamphlet publishers.

The Keen Bean, a tiny coffee shop in Oxford run by poet and entrepreneur Will Davies, has just started a series of free poetry nights to promote small and independent publishers. Will was kind enough to invite me to curate the first event and I leapt at the chance; I’ve been planning some events to coincide with the publication of The Emma Press Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse from September onwards and I was glad to be able to try some ideas out in front of a small audience.

The event, which took place on Saturday 3rd August, was a two-hander featuring Rachel and Richard, both friends of The Emma Press. Here are the introductions I wrote for the Keen Bean event page …

Richard O’Brien reading

Richard O’Brien is one of the most exciting and in-demand young poets around, popping up most recently at the BBC Proms. He won the Foyle Young Poets of the Year award in 2006 and 2007, and his debut pamphlet, your own devices, has almost completely sold out. He has a second pamphlet coming out in the autumn with Dead Ink, as well as one scheduled for January 2014 with The Emma Press.

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Rising star Rachel Piercey was President of the Oxford University Poetry Society and won the Newdigate Prize in 2008. She writes beautiful, lucid poetry and her illustrated pamphlet of love poems, The Flower and the Plough, was published by The Emma Press earlier this year. Last month she joined the editorial team on Cadaverine Magazine.

The Keen Bean pamphlets

With a line-up like that, I was pretty confident about how the poetry side of things was going to go, but I also felt pressure to hold up my end of proceedings. I made some hand-stitched pamphlets, so the poets wouldn’t have to shuffle bits of paper around on stage, and I planned an informal speech explaining the origins of the press. The Keen Bean had the intimate atmosphere sorted already, so all that was left was the running order. At the suggestion of Rachel, I organised her and Richard’s poems into alternating chunks of 2-5 poems, designed to work as individual segments but also to speak to the preceding and following mini-sets.

Rachel Piercey next to my banner

Richard and Rachel, as it turns out, have very complementary styles. Richard approaches his subjects with great intensity and depth while Rachel has a sparer touch, drawing out her often startling observations with deceptive simplicity. They share a love of form and a nice line in almost masochistic emotional honesty, and watching them alternate was like taking a too-deep breath in and then puffing it out too fast: both giddying and intense experiences, but in different ways. They were brilliant on Saturday, and I really hope we can put on this show again so more people can see it. The whole event went as well as I had hoped it would, not least due to the relaxed charm of the Keen Bean and Will Davies himself.

As mentioned above, there will be many more Emma Press events taking place from September onwards, so do sign up to the newsletter and keep an eye out for announcements on Facebook and Twitter. These will involve lots of the poets from the Mildly Erotic Anthology (available for pre-order here) and will be completely amazing, so start getting excited … now! If you wish you’d been at the Keen Bean event, you can check out the setlist below and even read some of the poems for yourself.

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The setlist:

Richard O’Brien Rachel Piercey

Scintillometry Songs about Louise Desire Path

At the arcade The corps Lilac tree Boys who take traffic cones Sea bed

More Sharks Than Ever Before Actaeon Munch’s Cock

On Rosebery Avenue Bath time Truth or dare

Ransom The Smell of Apples Orpheus

Know not me Ride Tonight, Matthew…

Magician’s Assistant Victorian Pornography

Family tree Symbiosis

One of my main motivations in setting up the Emma Press was to create the means by which I could bring great writing to a wider audience. As soon as I read Rachel’s poems I wanted to package them up appealingly and tell everyone to read them, and I’m looking for the same response in myself to submissions for the Erotic Anthology. Once I’ve found something I love, I want to share it with as many people as possible. With that in mind I give you … five terribly romantic and wonderful things.

A book: The Morning Gift, by Eva Ibbotson

Don’t be put off by the classic ‘random girl’ YA cover and don’t read the blurb on the publisher’s website. Or rather, you can read the blurb but before you start thinking this is just another romance, with a marriage of convenience which unsurprisingly turns out to be more than that, consider one thing: it’s by Eva Ibbotson. Eva Ibbotson didn’t do trashy romances set against the dramatic backdrop of whatever. Eva Ibbotson wrote uniformly magnificent novels spiked with pathos and wit. Her children’s books are a riot, and her adult romances possibly the best ever written. They’re all amazing, but The Morning Gift is my absolute favourite, possibly because the story was closest to the author’s heart (the historical setting is somewhat autobiographical) and this really comes through.

A music video: Elephant Gun, directed by Alma Har’el

I must have watched this at least thirty times. I love the song by Beirut, but oh my god the video. It’s a Bacchanalian fantasy full of loose-limbed dancers, antique maps, elephant masks and people falling over. All the dancers are stripped down to their braces and shirtsleeves or petticoats and stockings, and Zach Condon is sporting an exquisite bouffant hairdo. It’s exuberant, bonkers fun and utterly beautiful.

A song: Cherish, by the Four Tops

I first came to this song through Glee, but it was combined with a Madonna song such in a way that excised all the best lines. I didn’t begin to really love it until I found this heartbreaking version by the Four Tops, with backing vocals from the Andantes.

A poem: Symbiosis, by Rachel Piercey

It’s hard not to make judgements about people depending on which poems they like best from The Flower and the Plough. I’m probably offensively wrong 100% of the time, but it does seem like Symbiosis is especially popular with people in happy, stable relationships (that’s a nice judgement, so it’s ok to make, right?). Or it could just be that it’s a lovely poem and people are responding to that. Either way, it’s gorgeous and we made a video so people could enjoy it aurally as well as visually.

A bar: Bobby’s Bar, Bob Bob Ricard, Soho

I believe you can create a romantic atmosphere anywhere, though it helps if you have the right lighting (dim), furniture (sturdy, high-quality materials) and background noise (definitely some, though hushed). Bobby’s Bar helpfully provides all three, along with friendly staff who take your coat like you’re royalty even if you’re wearing a moth-eaten jacket and a too-short skirt. It taketh with the other hand, however, by being incredibly pricey (£10.50 for a cocktail).

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If you want to read more romantic things, try matching the lovers to the love letter in a quiz.