"Meet the Press: Pighog
Brighton, a seaside town on England's southeast coast, is home to candy-coloured terraces, pebble-lined shores, and also Pighog Press, a small publisher that has been featuring work by local poets since 2002. Director John Davies founded Pighog to represent writers known as "The Beach Generation" and he quickly discovered he was rather good at it - the T.S. Eliot-founded Poetry Book Society named Pighog's publishing debut, poet Lorna Thorpe's collection Dancing to Motown, their Pamphlet of Choice that first year. Pighog's pocket-sized collections feature poetry from an increasingly international roster of authors (this fall sees a new translation of Slovenian poet Iztok Osojnik's Elsewhere). Says Davies: 'The one thing we look for in writing is a pressure that's pushing out and needing to be expressed - that urgency.''
By Alice Vincent for Nylon
A fine debut pamphlet. Expect ghosts, interrupters, all manner of strangeness mixed in with a certain domestic charm. The poems disarm you with their surprises and their obsessions. They dialogue constantly with the uncanny. The colours and textures spring from Sussex landscapes - chalk and tufted grass, flint and gulls, an almost omnipresent moon - but the subjects can be horrifying (‘Free Fall’), at times surreally narrative (‘Drinks’) and often downright spooky (‘Round Yours’). Throughout the collection there is a sense that the speaker is at least one step removed from the poems, that a kind of semi-transparency - a smudged pane of glass - separates one thing from another. As a reader you fell that the poet is taking you by the hand and showing you round a haunted house, half-explaining what you can half-see. It is a splendidly tantalising sensation.
Review by Clare Best for The Frogmore Papers
Live poetry in London 2010
Live poetry in London 2010
Poetry reading in London - September 2010
Poetry reading in London - September 2010
Poetry reading in London - September 2010
Charlotte Gann is the author of the mysterious and richly rewarding poetry pamphlet The Long Woman. In this exclusive interview with
Pighog's Assistant Editor Tom Slingsby, the poet sheds light on her creative processes and the ferment of influences and experiences which
make her work so fascinating.
TS: One of my favourite things about The Long Woman is the way each poem offers a glimpse into a
richly imagined world, almost as though each piece were a snapshot of a novel. Was narrative a big consideration when you were writing these poems?
TS: One of my favourite things about The Long Woman is the way each poem offers a glimpse into a richly imagined world, almost as though each piece were a snapshot of a novel. Was narrative a big consideration when you were writing these poems?
CG: I love this question – and way of seeing the sequence. Thank you, Tom. Yes, narrative was extremely important to me when writing these poems, and there are complex characters, stories – constructions – behind each one. I like the way you've described it here too, because you capture something of the compression of material within each poem. For me, it's this which anchors them despite the emotional nature of much of their subject matter.
I read that Philip Larkin said: 'poetry begins with emotion in the poet, ends with the same emotion in the reader, and the poem is the instrument which put it there.' I'd go along with this – and, for me, having a narrative can help me achieve this cleanly. A narrative brings with it an inherent immediacy, and sense of movement – both of which can carry a weight of emotion. Likewise for suspense, mystery, revelation – all inherent characteristics of a narrative framework.
I am a big film-lover, and often feel as though I'm holding a camera, choosing an angle, creating a scene. I like the space this lets into the work, which again helps me keep cool, and able to think. It's a combination that works for me – and I think this detachment also helps enormously when it comes to the editing process.
TS: Do you write to process things you already know, or do you write to be surprised – or a combination of the two?
CG: Definitely both. There are certainly some systems of thought which draw me – I am easily convinced, for instance, by a psychological paradigm. But the work would feel lifeless to me if the process – and my processing – wasn't still very actively ongoing. The emotion has to be alive and real for me – that's the bit that is very much 'in the moment'. At the same time, my discipline is to bring to this material a capacity to think, feel compassion, show understanding and share humour. I want the emotion to retain its rawness, but be 'held', if you like, in a solid and mature thought-about container – again, a narrative can provide this. 'Molecular Biologist', incidentally, is a poem that suggests we all find our own ways to process and package experience.
TS: Can you tell us a bit about the influences and interests that led you to start writing poetry? I believe your MA at Sussex University was an important part of the story.
CG: The MA was certainly very important, although it served really as a continuation of a process I had already started. Originally, I studied English at UCL. Reading and writing were always passions. An interest in psychology and personal development came later.
In my mid-30s I stopped working as an editor to be at home with my two young sons. It was then I suddenly found myself writing with a whole new impetus. In the past, I had always tried to write fiction – novels – and this had been an uphill struggle. Suddenly I was only interested in writing poetry. I think it's because I had realised that this parcelling of emotion, insight – this framing of vignettes, if you like – was what it was all about for me. I was excited by the idea of writing different kinds of poems – my own sort – which, exactly as you've described, set out to capture something of the emotional drama and weight of a whole narrative, and then pack it into the small parcel of a poem.
My MA, then, which was on Creative Writing and Personal Development, just absolutely mirrored my own burgeoning interests, providing a wonderful framework for me to continue to develop my own thoughts, and indeed writing processes.
TS: The poems in this collection reveal a dark and mysterious side to family life. Are these representations influenced by your own family at all?
CG: Certainly there are some reflections of my own experience of growing up in a large family in the 1970s. My father, for instance – who was an eccentric, very English man, and who died more than twenty years ago – crops up more than once in this collection. However, I think my work is equally influenced by the whole mesh of other families around me, the communities I've lived in, all the experiences I've had, the stories I've heard, books I've read et cetera, et cetera. I think, like everyone, I compress a multitude of thoughts, impressions, momentary insights, to create this other 'felt' world that I then choose to conjure up in poetry.
This is one of the reasons I like being the age I now am – 46. I feel every day brings new experience that adds to the stock – yet, perhaps ironically, also reinforces my commitment to the fact that there are only a limited number of themes that really compel me – the ones which have done so all along. And with each passing decade, courage in my own convictions grows.
TS: The Long Woman conjures vivid mental pictures of the Sussex landscape, pictures that are both immediately recognisable and at times strange. Can you tell us a bit about how Sussex permeates your work?
CG: Permeates is a good word for it. The Sussex landscape permeates my work because it permeates me – presumably because it surrounded me in my formative years. I grew up, and live again now, in Lewes, which is a town geographically couched in the chalk Downs: they literally framed my view – and so, organically, form part of it. That's how it feels anyway.
The old ruined village of Tide Mills is the setting for my poem 'Pocket'. Tide Mills is a place I visited a lot as a child, then didn’t for a long time, and now return to with children of my own. When there, I can almost literally see past and present traced on top of each other – all this in the soothing levelling presence of the sea. The Long Woman closes on this relatively neat and redemptive note, although 'Pocket' is deliberately not quite snug enough to stop at 14 lines.
TS: What particular trait do you most admire in other writers?
CG: I remember on the MA reading Marion Milner on Picasso. She wrote: ‘here was someone with the courage to recognise and admit such inner chaos’. I think I have always admired writers, artists, indeed people, who are willing to do this. One hero is Patrick Hamilton, who wrote a lot about London and Brighton. His characters are invariably vulnerable and flawed – a combination that always interests me. So, George Harvey Bone in Hangover Square, hopelessly and unrequitedly in love; Miss Roach in Slaves of Solitude learning the folly of her even daring to dream of love.
I also value poets, like Selima Hill, who tell stories which make me feel less alone, and more able to accept the energies bubbling away under the surface. Two other touchstone poems have been 'Wild Geese' by Mary Oliver, and the legendary 'Not Waving But Drowning' by Stevie Smith. Both more than satisfy the ultimate aim I have for my own work: to frame a narrative quite tightly in a way that's both compassionate and telling. I also love reading T.S. Eliot – the cool intelligent part of writing poetry is immensely precious to me.
There are, of course, more poets, novelists, musicians, artists, film makers and people who have influenced me over the years, and do moment to moment, than I could possibly name here – the subtlety of the impact things have on us is, in itself, a key subject for me.Read more about The Long Woman and buy one of the last few pre-launch copies here.
Ciaran O'Driscoll reading poetry in the Burren.
Declan Ryan reading 'The Square and Compass' at the Pighog Press London Series - September 2010
'Tom Cunliffe’s Suit of Lights contains poetry and prose passages. The latter are not quite prose poems, since they contain narrative and anecdote in the manner of prose. However, similar to his poetry they are concise and evocative as in Footsteps ‘…at night this table searches for those souls loosened by the rain. I see you fall across it motionless, with all the silence of a Perugino. Four legs are not enough’. Particularly powerful are poems about extinct animals, with poignant footnotes: ‘across her lawn/ to a cave/ and steps / / torch beams / touch a stallion / running point to a herd…’ to ‘…stampeding off cliffs / she hears them leap / voiceless’, footnote – Tarpan. European wild Horse. Extinct. C 1800 (from Tarpan).
The beauty and loss of other animals includes the Japanese Wolf and the Rufous Gazelle, extinct as recently as 1930. Off-beat images and anarchic situations, blackly humorous, such as the character who ties her lover to a door jamb and after leaving the scene is unable to remember whether she flicked the switch on or off when she placed a light bulb in his mouth, inhabit many poems. The style is sometimes flowing, sometimes staccato, the mixture of down-to-earth and surreal creating juxtapositions that can surprise with particular humour and vividness. My father lies (from ‘rest’) has the device of a son hiding in the rafters ‘along with the cuckoo and the wrens’ watching his parents’ slightly saucy activities. ‘She wears her air-hostess uniform with black silk stockings / and has just wiped his brow with good fortune’.' Stella Stocker, Weyfarers, No. 107, Guildford Poet’s Press, February 2010
Poetry reading in London - September 2010
‘The creatures that clamber into the pages of James Brookes’ debut are unwitting players in his constitution of a country. In a collection that stalks across England from Horsham to Whitby, down the Tees-Exe line, and up to Clitheroe’s “slick hauberk of rain and [...] Lancs postcode”, his animals are drafted in to act as additional signposts. While the quintessential Englishness of thrushes, badgers and a “roving dog / with a stick in his mouth/ loose on the fields” leaves us in no doubt as to where we are, however, Brookes also employs it to draw our attention to other, less picturesque aspects of the land: the sense of embattlement; the awareness of the enemy at the gate. The badger becomes not a symbol of the countryside but a ragged fifth-columnist, shunting for “tubercular lebensraum”, “tilting its panzerfaust snout”. In poems spiky with nouns and rat-tatting with alliteration, Brookes paints a portrait of a country that is beautiful and seething, from “its doggers’ fissures, its Jermyn blight / [...] to [...] the sleek hips of the Downs”.’
Poetry Review: Volume 100: 3 Autumn 2010
Poetry reading in London - September 2010
There are plenty of books and pamphlets to dig through and gems aplenty. One such is James Brookes' The English Sweats. This 36 page pamphlet debut is a well-crafted exploration of Englishness and belonging that has a grasp of history and place in modulated poems that delight and surprise with their playfulness.
He draws upon narratives and references from his family history and other historical incidents of rupture from Roman Britain through Medieval Sussex to the Second World War that lead back to a place, predominantly Sussex.
His word selection and delineation clearly echo the scars of violence and resistances to produce a rough music, albeit knowingly ‘snug in the trim of privilege’. Overall the collection has great coherence and a compelling and lively lyricism.
Review by David Caddy from Tears in the Fence,
Issue 52, p. 168.
Live poetry in London 2010
No sign of Professor Brian Cox but otherwise this was a stellar gathering in response to and to conclude Matthew Luck Galpin's exhibition 'Anvilled Stars' at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, England. The exhibition presented five of Galpin's mirrors wrought from meteorites, displaced around the musuem's gallery. Introduced by artist Rebecca Slingsby, seven performers presented their response to the work: Nancy Campbell, Brian Catling, Jack Catling, John Davies (aka Shedman), D. Gwalia, MacGillivray and Holly Slingsby. The booklet Campo del Cielo is available now in our online bookshop. Terrier TV were on hand to record the event for posterity and present the highlights here.
Live poetry in London 2010
Live poetry in London 2010
Moss Rich's video introduction to the 2011 Moss Rich Poetry
Prize-giving, which took
place at the Foundry in Lewes, East Sussex on Friday 11 March 2011.
Pighog are to be congratulated on bringing out the remarkable collection I'll Be Back Before You Know It by Polish poet, Maria Jastrzebska. Poems about her mother’s death co-exist with a picture of modern Poland and starkimages of the dereliction of the Second World War. The prose poems are of equal power as in My Beloved’s Shoes, ‘…Covets them like orchids. She says they make her tall, she says they’re shiny. She takes them out to look at. Holds them close, cradling them in her arms like doves…’ More chilling is the title poem I’ll Be Back Before You Know It. This is a wartime train and we know he will not come back. ‘I thought the month of February would never end. No stars,no clarity. Just wind pushing the clouds and trees and fences…Waking up I’d imagine his train pulling out of Warsaw nearly half a century ago…Sygmunt was there as well, both of them pretending it was just a business trip. I tried to imagine the expression on my father’s face as he gazed out through the train window…’ Now her mother has died she recalls ‘you said you wanted to hang on to everything, even that spare pair of brown, suede gloves you keep in the car.’ This is horror described in an understated manner, recalling all the attempts to avoid those close being hurt by facing what was really happening.
Contrasting is the beautiful, lyrical and witty News from Pulawska; ‘Spring’s so late: / the storks flew in last week. / Snows have melted too fast: / trees stand knee-deep in floods’. It continues to the overall scene, suggesting the change from Communism to Catholicism, ‘Political jokes are back: / Radio Maryla blaring out / to the mohair beret brigade, so loud / even the Vatican was embarrassed. / The air smells of mud. / You can hear hymns playing.’ The sense of place, the feeling for nature and atmosphere are vivid and accomplished and the ability to create varieties of tone in the same poem, ending ‘If summer ever comes / ours will still be the sweetest’. This exceptional collection is both enjoyable, with a sense of enchantment in much of the work and hard-hitting in its quiet power.
From Weyfarers No. 109, December 2010.
With the deadline fast approaching, Pighog poet John O'Donoghue answers some frequently asked questions about the Moss Rich Poetry Prize.
1 How long should my poem be?
The Prize rules state that the poem must not exceed 30 lines. There are a number of approaches you could take within this line count. You could write a formal poem such a sonnet. A sonnet is usually 14 lines - so you could submit a sonnet and be well within the line count. There are other formal poems, some with fixed line counts like villanelles, kyrielles, and triolets; some with devices such as repetition like pantoums but no fixed lines counts, and some where there are fixed rhyme schemes but again no fixed line countslike ballads. All of these may be approaches to explore. You can also writepoems in blank verse, such as Shakespeare's character's speak in his plays, free verse. You might want to invent a persona, a character who speaks a monologue. Robert Browning used this device in a lot of his poems - you mightwant to look at some of his work before you start. Living poets who have also used personae include Linto Kwesi Johnson - see 'Sonny's Letter'; Carol Ann Duffy; and Wendy Cope. Perhaps the idea of a persona doesn't appeal but freeverse does. How do you want your poem to look on the page? Do you want to try the poem in tercets - three line stanzas; in free verse stanzas with a regular number of lines each; as one block of text: as stanzas with an irregular numberof lines? All may be effective - in the end it's up to you and where your poem takes you.
2 I'm a new poet entering my first
competition. How can I make sure my poem
will have the best chance of success?
Look at the submission guidelines. Make sure your poem is laid out as these guidelines require. Use good quality paper, and make sure you post your poem(s)in an A4 envelope - a crease in the paper you've printed your poem on that goes through a crucial line can spoil the presentation of a poem. Then make sure you've written the best possible poem you can. Don't think that your first draft either is necessarily the best version of your poem. Whenever I've written a poem I alwaysthink it's wonderful. A few days later, when the first flush of pleasure has worn off, I read the poem with a colder eye. It's then that I get a truer sense of the poemand any flaws it may have. So try to draft and redraft your poem.
Read it out loud - does it sound OK or are there parts where it's awkward to say, where you've inadvertently repeated words close together, or where it sounds like a tonguetwister, or is a little over the top? Poems I think have to appear perfect, as if they were conceived as naturally as speech; but this often only comes through redrafting and revision and you would be well advised to test your poem to destruction before entering it in the competition.
3 Does my poem have to rhyme?
4 My Prize poem has to be written
on the theme 'Root and Branch'. Are there any
guidelines about how to interpret the theme? Root and Branch can be taken a variety of ways. The theme is suggestive of the naturalworld, where roots and branches evoke the forest, woodland, trees. Perhaps ecologyand green politics is your thing - what about a poem along these lines? Or what about that other kind of tree, a family tree? Families all have roots - and families have branches as well. What about something along these lines? Or what about the phrase in its broader political sense - at the moment we seem to be undergoing 'root and branch reform' - maybe you have something to say on that? As long as you clearly explore the theme in a creative and poetic way you will be on the right track.
5 Are the judges looking for a particular kind of poem? The judges are just looking for the best poems entered for the competition. They are an open-minded and diverse bunch, who in their own work have taken a wide variety of approaches to writing poems. They just want to see the poems that stand out, that do different, that perhaps show an awareness of craft and skill, but also freshness and a sense of the vivid.
6 I'm a performance poet and I'm
worried my work won't be given the same treatment as a poet of the
If your poem works out loud for audiences, chances are it will work on the page. Butmake sure that you check the way it works on the page. Performance can rely on vocal delivery and you'll need to make sure your poem delivers off the page too. The judges are seeking excellent poems of any type and there is no prejudice against performancepoetry.
7 Can I use a poem I've already written that I think matches the theme?Yes!
8 I write lots of songs - can I enter
one as a poem?Yes!
Read a profile of John O'Donoghue here
‘The creatures that clamber into the pages of James Brookes’ debut are unwitting players in his constitution of a country. In a collection that stalks across England from Horsham to Whitby, down the Tees-Exe line, and up to Clitheroe’s “slick hauberk of rain and [...] Lancs postcode”, his animals are drafted in to act as additional signposts. While the quintessential Englishness of thrushes, badgers and a “roving dog / with a stick in his mouth / loose on the fields” leaves us in no doubt as to where we are, however, Brookes also employs it to draw our attention to other, less picturesque aspects of the land: the sense of embattlement; the awareness of the enemy at the gate. The badger becomes nota symbol of the countryside but a ragged fifth-columnist, shunting for “tubercular lebensraum”, “tilting its panzerfaust snout”. In poems spiky with nouns and rat-tatting with alliteration, Brookes paints a portrait of a country that is beautiful and seething, from “its doggers’ fissures, its Jermyn blight / [...] to [...] the sleek hips of the Downs”.’
From Poetry Review, Volume 100: 3 Autumn 2010.
In these two books -- Everyday Angels and I'll Be Back Before You Know It -- there are poems for anyone who has ever lived in two countries, two languages, two hearts at once.
Maria Jastrzebska was born in Warsaw in 1953 and came to England as a young child when her parents escaped from Poland. She writes poems that are at the same time here in the new world (England or America, call it what you will) and there in the old world (Poland). Her poems explore the borderland between lives and countries that all exiles, refugees, and immigrants live in, the shadow land of objects, places, and people that are sometimes as sure as stone and other times elusive as dreams.
What her poems do in these two books is to make this shadow land, this border between here and there, real to the reader in the way that only poetry can be. She slows down the swirling calls of time and memory and allows us to rest for a moment in that changeless place she has created, regarding the ashes in our hands, the ones that refuse to be ashes.
These are deeply personal poems that speak directly and clearly to the reader. I saw this immediately in 'Europa,' the first poem in the wonderfully titled I'll Be Back Before You Know It.
Read the full article at Writing the Polish Diaspora.
Pighog is delighted to present an original promotional video conceived, filmed and edited by Czech cinematography student Ondřej Herold. Demonstrating the power of poetry to bring people together, the trailer was Ondřej's final piece during his Erasmus placement with Terrier TV. The piece was shot in the stunning Victorian setting of Brighton's Booth Museum, one of Pighog's favourite places.
Pighog Press is based in Brighton, its remit to support talented local writers. The writers in the pamphlets reviewed here are certainly talented and the publications are engagingly presented.
Brendan Cleary is, of course, a well-known poet, unforgettable to anyone who has ever heard him read. Here, a sequence of 12 poems about the unfortunate Jackson, who is about to have his shoulders battered by his lover 'with a blunt end of an axe', exercises quaint and delightful charm. I am not a great fan of the ampersand, which dots its unmitigated way through these poems, but it seems a piece with Jackson's slightly dated persona. And who could not like the sardonic humour conveyed in such matter-of-fact terms? In 'Jackson's Death', for example:
'Frances, his long lost lover, wore her wooden leg well trailing after the black coffin…'
Moss Rich is the oldest Pighog Poet, born in 1910. But you wouldn't know it from his writing. This small collection is a pleasure from beginning to end: it's neat; it's elegant; it's funny – and in places ('The Crime', for example) it moves in the deepest of waters. The poems are essentially modest and unpretentious, but when you read them, you want to share them with your friends. It's hard to do any one poem justice with selective quoting – many accomplish their dexterous work as metrical wholes, with the last few lines an assured climax. However, though 'The Art of Grief' (a prose poem about the letters on tombstones in a cemetery) is in many ways untypical of Rich's style, it seems to me to sum up the kind of reader he deserves:
'If print speaks as gently to your heart as blood flows softly through your veins you will understand why I stop to read, and read again.'
Tim Beech is the nature poet of the group; not only does his name evoke a tree, so does his pamphlet title and the deep green of the cover design. In places I found his language too intense for my taste, more July than May. On his book jacket, he is compared to Ted Hughes and Geoffrey Hill, but parts of his (well-constructed) sonnets remind me of far older influences:
'How sweet the absence, verdant growth, the lush Of summer's gluttony.'
But the title poem, where the language is less elaborate, creates uncluttered visual imagery in such a way that the idea is what you remember, rather than the style; and 'Inheritance', where the poet tackles memory – his own, and what happened to this father's – is extremely moving.
Dancing to Motown, by Lorna Thorpe, was a PBS pamphlet choice, and the commendation was well-deserved. The poems are very personal: they come from difficult, painful territory, but their jaggy edges are strangely dispassionate, often self-mocking. This is someone writing out of real experience – one is never in doubt of that – and she is constantly writing about things that matter to her. Playing the lonely-hearts dating game, in 'Would like to meet', she describes the narrative role which is also happening inside the pamphlet itself:
'Then it's my turn and this telling of my life never fails to enchant; a new me taking shape in this collage of selected loves and hates…'
Thorpe is a watcher, standing always just a little back from reality. The effect builds as you work through the set of poems – she does not dramatise her content, even when that content is dramatic. She just places it there, on the page, stands back and lights the fuse.
What is the place of the poetry anthology in today's book market? Does it perpetuate literary cliques, or usher in the innovators of tomorrow? Is there still room for the polemical anthology, or has the medium become just another lightweight coffee-table fad? In this fascinating round table discussion, Pighog director John Davies is joined by fellow poets John O'Donoghue, Brendan Cleary, Maria Jastrzebska, Ciaran O'Driscoll, Naomi Foyle, Tim Cummings and others. Click here to save the .pdf file to your computer's hard drive.
The 15th Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival runs from today till the 16th. It's got a superb line-up featuring Pighog poets James Brookes, John Davies, Sarah Jackson, Jo Slade and of course organiser Ciaran O'Driscoll, who says "If you're within an ass's roar of Limerick, or need some poetry in your life, pay us a visit."
As soon as we get back from Ireland we'll be back at the Leather Exchange for another great night of poetry readings, now featuring John McCullough. See below for full info.
Pighog is delighted to announce the second in its London Series of poetry readings.
It'll be an evening of black humour, rich imagery, captivating stage craft and diverse poetic styles, as we bring you:
Armed with vivid and flexible poetic gifts, Jastrebska's poetry provides moving and muscular mediations on the nature of place and exile.
Having recently released his goin' down slow: selected poems 1985-2010, Cleary is one of the most visceral and instinctively gifted stage presences in UK poetry.
Described as Brighton's brightest young poet, McCullough uses his exceptional gift with words to create resonant reflections on desire, loss, and love it all its forms.
Author of the magnificent Suit of Lights, Cunliffe's words surprise and shimmer off the page with a restless formal dynamism influenced by his work in sculpture and printmaking.
- plus readings by special guest poets Malene Engelund and Susie
Entry is FREE with a full range of Pighog books for sale and great raffle prizes to be won. The readings take place in the relaxed environment of the upstairs lounge at The Leather Exchange, a fantastic pub which is just a few minutes' walk from London Bridge station.
Doors 7pm for 7.30pm
The Leather Exchange
15 Leathermarket Street
At Pighog Press we're excited about the impending launch of Postcards from the 7th Floor by Iain Sinclair & Oona Grimes on the October 7th, National Poetry Day.
The project is centred on Marine Court, a huge and mysterious concrete building overlooking the ocean at St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex. Moving beyond the modernist fantasy of its imposing architecture, the dreams and lost souls swimming around Marine Court start to make themselves known. Postcards from the 7th Floor maps the layered and shifting energies of the area through a combination of mesmerising experimental verse and Grimes' inimitably creative drawings: "Tex Avery chases Hitchcock through the corridors of the Overlook Hotel. Terence Fisher directs."
Postcards from the 7th Floor is a limited edition of 1000 and has already attracted a lot of interest. Purchase your copy now.
We're delighted that Danielle Arnaud contemporary art is hosting a special launch party for the publication. If you would like to come along to the launch please contact us by clicking here to request an invitation.
Pighog's John Davies is attending the Golden Boat Translation Workshop at Škocjan in the Karst region of Slovenia, right next to the famous Škocjan caves (www.park-skocjanske-jame.si/eng).
Pighog poets Ciaran O'Driscoll, John O'Donoghue and Maria Jastrzebska have already attended the Golden Boat, which creates an opportunity for poets from many different nationalities to discuss and present their work and its translation. The workshop is named after the poem of the same name by the remarkable Slovenian poet Srečko Kosovel (1904-26).
This year's workshop includes poets from Croatia, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the USA, and an American poet/activist working for the rights of Roma people.
John is fascinated by both the centrality of English in international prosody and its peripherality, both at times resented or embraced.
More here: http://www.ia-zlaticoln.org/dela.php?l=sl&id=5
Pighog has always had great faith in young talent - in design as much as in poetry.
Emerge is the original graphic design graduate showcase of the London design festival with an exhibition at The Cube, Studio 5, 115 Commercial Road, London E1 6BJ from 18-26 September 2010. Open daily 10am - 6pm Admission free
Find out more here.
Do you write poetry? This autumn we're back in London for an exciting series of poetry readings and each night features two special seven minute Guest Poet Slots which are waiting to be filled.
If you're interested in this opportunity to share your work, please send a maximum of four poems to firstname.lastname@example.org with 'Guest Poet application' in the subject line.
On a visit to the South Downs in England, poet Ciaran O'Driscoll recites John Masefield's 'Up on the Downs'.
Today we're launching our brand new website, which provides an exciting new space for you to browse and read extracts from our poetry pamphlets, along with new profiles of all our poets. The website reflects our new approach to visual design, evident in our new Munster Series, and in the exciting projects we have in the pipeline.
We're aiming to push the visual impact of our publications on to the next level, thinking about creative ways to complement the power of our poets' words and to offer you a distinctive and richer reading experience. In an exclusive new interview [see below], Pighog's founding Director John Davies answers your questions about the death of our Celtic boar logo, revealing more about the Press's new look and the origins of Pighog.
The small press poetry pamphlet has always allowed artists the flexibility to experiment. Postcards from the 7th Floor is an interdisciplinary collaboration between Iain Sinclair and Oona Grimes. Their creative synergy has resulted in a stunning suite of poetry and images based around Sinclair's home at Marine Court in St. Leonards-on-Sea, part of Hastings in Sussex.
Sinclair is the author of vivid and seminal novels such as White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings; Radon Daughters, and the renowned literary geography London Orbital. However, much of his early work was poetry published by his own Albion Village Press, for instance Lud Heat and Suicide Bridge. Grimes is known for her playful and allusive work in printmaking and collage, as featured in her recent Conversations with Angels exhibition and in Sinclair's Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire.
The magnificent images Grimes has created for this publication are too strong to be treated as marginal illustrations and so the works appear in a specially designed reversable format which reflects the value and power of the two artists' creative dialogue. John Davies says, “With its Sussex and coastal credentials Pighog offers a suitable platform for this unusual, disturbing and highly-crafted contemplation of the Sussex seaside as seen from the seventh floor of a remarkable building. It is poetry which calls into question all kinds of assumptions of security. For me it has the quality of the 'crazy house' of the seaside funfair where floors and surfaces seem perfectly flat and safe but on stepping inside you discover a world that's unpredictable and unreliable. Walking the plank of Iain's language the reader is both mesmerised and disorientated.”
This challenging, unmissable collection will be launched on National Poetry Day, October the 7th at the Danielle Arnaud Gallery in London and will be available for pre-order from this Saturday. If you would like to come along to the launch please click here to request an invitation. Spaces are strictly limited so please contact us as soon as you can if you would like to attend. Look out for this Saturday's Guardian which features an article by Iain about his life at Marine Court.
Since the 1970s Moss Rich has been writing and performing his inimitable brand of razor-sharp satirical poetry, and we're delighted to announce that he'll be receiving his telegram from the Queen this month! In Moss's case, old age has proved no barrier to creativity. On the contrary, he's just published A Patch of Land to House Six Million Ghosts and has three more publications in the pipeline, including love poetry and limericks. To coincide with the launch of our new website, Assistant Editor Tom Slingsby has written a new profile of Moss. Happy birthday, Moss, from all at Pighog!
After having such a wonderful time at Ciaran O'Driscoll and James Brookes's readings this May, we thought we'd come back up to The Leather Exchange to bring you a series of live readings by some of the South East's finest poets:
Tuesday 21 September
Tuesday 19 October
Tuesday 16 November
Ellen De Vries
Doors 7pm for 7.30pm
The Leather Exchange
15 Leathermarket Street
Free entry to all events!
This May we announced the winners of our Short Story Competition for authors of children's fiction. The competition was open to unpublished authors from throughout the south-east and we were overwhelmed by the quality and variety of entries. This September, look out for the anthology of winning entries, featuring “Invisible” by Michelle Carol Pearce from Lewes and “The Toilet Monster” by Sally Brown from Canterbury.
The Artist's Room is a meditative and beguiling body of work based on the Welsh artist Gwen John (1876 - 1939) and has been described by J. S. Watts as “a graceful and knowledgeable sequence which contains poems of beauty, light and transience”. Jo will be giving the publication its full Irish launch at this year's Cuisle in Limerick. The festival runs from 13 October 2010 - 16 October 2010 and we'd be delighted to see you there.
John, tell us a bit about Pighog.
We're an award-winning small press based in Brighton, England. Since
2002, we've been publishing high-quality, original work by a range of
local, national and international authors. We are open and eclectic. We
look for quality of work whatever the poetic tradition or school from
which it stems. We always aim to present excellent work in beautifully
produced publications in any media, with high production values.
What is the story behind the Pighog name?
I hail from Birmingham, near the Black Country, land of pigs and sheds. Pighog first made his appearance in a poem of mine entitled 'Pighog', and later in another entitled 'The Boy and the Boar'. Pighog then became the name for a beast that appeared in my dreams. Unsure of its significance or benevolence, I felt that the creature needed a project to keep it out of mischief. So when thinking about a name and identity for a small press to self-publish my own work, Pighog seemed the ideal candidate. Jackson by Brendan Cleary followed, then a pamphlet for Brighton poet Lorna Thorpe, Dancing to Motown, which won a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and became a great success. Pighog was on its way.
What kind of work do you publish?
With the Sussex Series I have aimed to publish some of the many excellent poets in Sussex such as John O'Donoghue, Hugh Dunkerley and Tim Beech. There are many more and I believe Sussex and the south coast represents one of the most vibrant and exciting arenas for new poetry - and many other kinds of writing - in the UK today.
I am also particularly proud of the Press's work promoting talented
new poets. We've published debut pamphlets by John McCullough, Sarah Jackson and James Brookes, all
outstanding, very distinct poets, with bright futures ahead of them.
We are keen to promote poetry as a mode of expression in all its forms, and don't favour any particular literary school or theory. We are interested in originality and quality, in work which re-evaluates received cultural ideas. Lots of our poets deal with problems of displacement, sexuality, psychology and history. So I feel that Pighog retains something of a mysterious outsider identity.
We're increasingly building relationships with poets in other countries such as Ireland and Slovenia. We launched our International Series in 2008 and in May this year published the first of our new Munster series with The Artist's Room by Jo Slade.
In the next year Pighog will also be publishing the first of our
Passport Series for promising new poets of any age and we'll be
bringing out titles for our Fiction and Documentary writing lists.
So what has happened to the original Celtic boar logo?
Well, poor Pighog was always something of a sacrificial animal. In discussion with my Assistant Editor Tom Slingsby and our new Design and Art Director Aneel Kalsi we decided that it was time to overhaul the Press's identity. The original Pighog identity with the boar logo was designed by Pete McDonagh of Codesign who still looks after our website. Until recently all our pamphlets were designed by Curious Design, London, who have done a fantastic job for us over the years.
But we wanted to reinvigorate the visual aspect of what we do, to give the press, the website and our publications a fresh new house-style. Aneel had recently graduated from the University of Brighton and his vision for the brand really chimed with the Press's core values. The new treatment is less literal in its interpretation of Pighog and conveniently provides a PP signature not just for Pighog Press but also for Pighog Projects, our community projects and outreach arm, as well Pighog Poets generally.
The Celtic boar has been a good friend to us and it was a wrench saying goodbye to him, but I am delighted with the new look.
Can you recite us a poem about Pighog?
Yes, here's that original Pighog poem I mentioned:
What a pig of a life, what a bore,
what a thrashing sod of an existence.
A pale moon laid out our hunt,
small men with spears dancing on our path
chattering in pig language snort, hork, porkpork.
Feeling such fools running this way and that,
leaving a village of hay behind.
Not so much a pig, more a lump in the dark,
a thundering crunch in the bracken
with a squeal and a mess. Big black bully boy
poking with his snout. Nyeah, nyeah, huh.
I got up right behind him and slammed a
spike in his gut, wrench at the viscera,
happily watching the mangle and torso twist,
legs kicking, a slump on a heath, with
thousands, now, of small men, babbling, babbling.
And in the stream that ran beside this massacre
I noticed twists and mists of bloodiness
drifting in the water. Small drops gently
splashed from blades of grass, stirred in the eddies
and slid away, stars of dullness, fading rapidly.
This condoned my weariness and dissolution,
the loss of cells, the incessant bleeding off into
realms of non-existence. A social, dripping man.
Hunt Pig. Hurt Pig. Kill Pig. Pork!
What were the interests and influences that first led you to start writing poetry, and how have these manifested themselves in your work?
I came to writing poetry in my mid-twenties. Perhaps I should say I came back to writing poetry because I loved it as a child and remember tasting the sounds of Sylvia Plath's 'Mushrooms' on my tongue when we had to learn it for school. I knew I didn't understand it, but the 'feel' of it was quite different from anything I'd read aloud before. Later, though, I felt intimidated by poetry, or afraid to try it, unsure of what my voice might sound like. After completing an MA at Cardiff University, I was working in London, and not especially enjoying it. I began writing again. Around that time, I heard a recording of T.S. Eliot reading The Waste Land. I was stuck by the sound of his voice reciting 'HURRY UP PLEASE IT'S TIME'. I think that's when I realized the importance of sound and shape in language, and began to explore it for myself.
You've recently completed your DPhil thesis which is entitled The Textual Skin: Towards a Tactile Poetics and "examines the skin of literature and the way that writing performs contact". How does this research relate to the uncomfortable sense of intimacy which pervades your collection Milk?
The notion of intimacy, its pleasures and its discomforts, run through both my scholarly writing and my poetry. I don't really separate my academic research from my creative writing - they continually 'touch on' each other. I'm interested in the necessary impossibility of touching, what Jacques Derrida calls the 'interruption, interposition, detour of the between in the middle of contact'. Derrida shows us that touching only ever occurs at the surface, at the 'skin or thin peel of a limit'. At the heart of touch, then, there is nothing but spacing, interruption, non-contact. And yet writing always remains, for me, a way of trying to make contact. It's about a particular kind of intimacy; it's a way of performing the struggle to touch, with tact.
Pieces such as "Revolution" and "Clam" position the reader in liminal spaces which dramatise unresolved connections between the body and the world of objects. Do you see your work as celebrating these moments of disjuncture, or is it fair to say they also hint at moments of strange resolution
I hope they do both. I'm as interested in making connections - albeit often uncomfortable ones - as I am in disruption or disjuncture. The poems, I think, move towards their own uncanny resolution.
You've previously commented that you're very interested in the uncanny, and your poems have been described as surprising. Is this uncanny content a structured part of your writing practice or does it surprise you, as though registering a Freudian return of the repressed?
At first, I didn't recognize my own poetry as uncanny as such. In fact, the uncanny content of my poetry frightened me, and I tried to write away from it. But it returned, and I decided to write it down. At the same time, however, I don't consciously decide I must find an uncanny subject to write about. It's more that the process of writing, for me, involves delving into my dream-world, and I find surprising things there. It's like what Robert Frost says: 'No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.' He goes on, 'For me the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn't know I knew'. I think he's right - I know a poem is working when it surprises me, when it helps me to remember something I didn't know I knew.
Your poetry gives the impression of being very deftly honed. Do you write lots and then pare it down, or do the pieces emerge fully-formed?
Most of the time they're whittled down from a much longer piece of writing. Only very occasionally (such as 'Friday 12.03') do the poems emerge fully-formed, and even then, they go through a process of further refinement. Sometimes I make changes and then have to undo them again. But I'm always surprised by how they turn out.
Your poems' sound is obviously a key part of their uncanny effect. Do you begin composing with a particular sonic scheme in mind, or would you say this evolves as a response to the content?
It's difficult to say, but I think they evolve alongside each other. It's hard to separate the content from the form in that way. Sometimes I'm aware of a particular repeating sound in a poem, but it's usually much more unconscious than that, especially in its initial stages.
How does the Milk pamphlet you did for Pighog fit in with your other projects? What does the future hold for your writing?
After completing Milk, I was awarded Arts Council funding for a poetry project inspired by submarines and the idea of drowned or flooded experience. Together with these, some poems from Milk and further writing, I've put together my first full-length manuscript, which I'm hoping will be accepted for publication in the coming months. In the meantime, and beyond, more writing.
We're delighted to announce our first Summer Sale of selected titles. Until August 31st our beautiful box sets are now available at £20 plus P&P and the following titles are now available at £5 each plus P&P.
Pighog's International Series
I'll be back before you know it by Maria Jastrzębska
Pighog's Sussex Series
The Beach Generation by John O'Donoghue
Girl in the Air by Ellen De Vries
The Nutter in the Shrubbery by John Davies
Requiem for a Typewriter by Moss Rich
A Solitary Pine Tree in Sussex by Tim Beech
Suit of Lights by Tom Cunliffe
Pighog is delighted to announce the publication of The Artist's Room, by Jo Slade, the first in our new Munster series. This fifth collection from the celebrated Irish poet explores her fascination for the Welsh artist Gwen John (1876 - 1939), and elegantly teases out connections between poetry and painting. Exhibiting the precise and patient beauty of one of John's own paintings, these poems are exquisite meditations on painting and vision. They are published in an elegant new chapbook format exclusively designed and hand-stamped by Pighog's new designer Aneel Kalsi. LIMITED EDITION of 300 hand-stamped copies available now.
Many thanks for your entries to the Pighog Press Short Story Competition for writers of children's fiction. We were delighted to receive so many excellent submissions and following the judges' deliberations we are delighted to announce that the joint winners of the first prize are: "Invisible" by Michelle Carol Pearce from Lewes and "The Toilet Monster" by Sally Brown from Canterbury There are three joint runners-up. These are: "Crazy Golf" by Astrid Holm from Hove, "The Most Boring Teacher in the World" by Lizzie Strong from Storrington and "The Atomic Family" by Jessica Barrah from Hove. Congratulations to these authors! All five stories will be included in a special anthology from Pighog which will be released later this year. It was especially encouraging to read so many strong and varied stories from unpublished authors and whether you've made the top five or not, Pighog Press warmly encourages you to keep writing and keep in touch. ... and a big thank you to our team of judges: Laura Atkins, John Davies, Sarah Delmege, Sam Hall, Paul Long, Neela Masani, Valeria Melchioretto and Eleanor Williams with support from Tom Slingsby.
Pigbaby was a brilliant Literary Weekend Party that took place over the first weekend in May at Beechwood Hall, Cooksbridge, East Sussex in aid of Save the Children. Many thanks to everyone who helped contribute to the whole weekend. Special thanks to all the poets, writers and volunteers who supported the event.