Pleasant news this time, despite the pandemic and more than one emergency in the world. You might already know about the Art Trove because there’s a separate page this year (see above) and I’ve mentioned it in earlier posts (scroll below). But I was wondering what to do with the rest of the works, seeing as how they’re available to be sold, yet I don’t have the right platform to do it. Now, I knew the name of the gallery which used to sell Dad’s work, but I hesitated to contact them because times have changed and art fashions are not the same. I was also concerned about rejection and the resulting idea that my options were already limited enough. Imagine my surprise therefore, when a photo showing the very same gallery came up on Twitter from one of the northern poets (@ianduhig). The next day would have been the artist’s 96th birthday, so the timing was pretty good. How many hints did I need? So I wrote to the gallery on Dad’s birthday, and (to cut a long story, etc.) a week later I was heading up the A1 with a packet of watercolours and a selection of unused frames. It was a joyful time, handing them over to an outlet which had a real link with the artist and far more business nous than I’ve got. So, if anyone is interested, see: www.headrowgallery.co.uk and look under any criteria like watercolour, original, landscape, or the artist’s name. As I drove back down the A1 with an emptier car boot, I closed a trapdoor on most of the bereavement period too. Earlier in July, I delivered a painting to @thekettlewell as a community give-back to the village which inspired a lot of art and consequently a lot of cheques during the 1970’s. It seemed like the right thing to do, and there will be plenty of viewers as visitors stay in the hostel!
I’m sure most of you will have seen the debacle/literary frenzy which occurred over a certain British poet’s book and the attitudes expressed therein. I’d read the online extracts and thought yep, this is a clear case of patrician attitudes as the saviour from an upper level descends and ultimately profits from the less fortunate sectors of society. Think Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle and you’ve got the idea. I’ve seen those talented pupils’ poems online and admired them – but what’s not admirable is seeing the classmates described in prejudicial terms, all of them signalling that these are othered and disadvantaged ‘types’, so different to the fragrant life enjoyed by their privileged writer/editor. This book will have gone through the in-house editors of her publisher, and all of them were asleep on the job. Each issue could have been picked up and rewritten at first submission stage, and the author herself could have corrected it, given adequate perspective and empathy. Some observers have shown sympathy for the author; she has fallen off her pedestal, and that’s not nice for anyone. But those children have been betrayed by the professional who was supposed to have a duty of care towards them. Beware the middle-class project leader who parachutes in and seeks to develop your talent.
And what’s happening in the literature department, given that I’ve had a summer break to achieve summat solid? Well, the Jongleur collection is about to leap forward as the editorial people at @BookTypesetters get to work (I’m in a holding pattern behind other books) so we’re looking at an Autumn release if things go well. The cover is wow, so if you think the poems are a lot less flowery than medieval verses should be, these are offset by the multicoloured psalter effect of the jacket. Submissions are also taking place: a novella window opened at a Manchester-based press, and I think I have something ready that fits their specifications. I like that the publisher keeps things simple – instead of entry fees and hurdles, one buys any book or e-book from their site. This is a good way of getting around the writers v readers imbalance, and I end up with something I want. While that submission is being looked at, I dragged out the hardcopy folder I keep for the most recent novella, the one described by the Free Reads consultant as having ‘never seen anything quite like this’. I reckon that’s reason enough to carry right on, and I have finally typed up the whole of the second draft so that I have a good working platform for the revision phase, which comes next. I was thankful to finish on the last available day before having three nights’ hostelling in the Dales again. As I didn’t have much time exploring the area in July, I was back there again in August, walking round some of the places I remembered from growing up in Leeds. Linton in Craven was probably the most atmospheric one – it has a William Blake/Samuel Palmer vibe, and it really was ‘where I used to play on the green’! The YHA had an old hostel in the village, and we stayed there regularly.
Only one reading on the horizon, but it’s early days in the late pandemic wasteland. It feels as if we are picking ourselves up after a living a plotline by John Wyndham or HG Wells. But I’ll be near Huntingdon on 10th October, at the the Hollow Palaces launch in Kimbolton Castle, 2.30pm – 4.30 pm. This is a fine old venue, perfectly suiting the subject matter of the anthology, which is – crumbling towers and all things manorial and castellated. The book is published on 1st September, edited by @GreeningPoet and @KevinGardner520. It is available from Liverpool University Press, £19.99.