Monday, 22 August 2016

Review of A Career in Accompaniment

We are delighted share details of the latest review for Alex Reed's autobiographical poetry pamphlet A Career in Accompaniment.

The following snippets are taken from a review by Beth McDonough in Dundee University Review of the Arts, which can be enjoyed in full here.

“Opening with the prose poem “Things illness stole”, we find Jan, prior to diagnosis, at the cusp of their relationship; rather as Les Murray’s poem “It Allows a Portrait in Line-Scan At Fifteen”, does the much-needed job of untangling his son from his autism, this offers a vibrant ten line picture of a woman, completely charged and changed by the title’s significance. The magnitude of their loss is caught in the final, soon-to-be-ironic words – “Everything’s going to be alright” – happily lipsticked on her mirror. Ominously, these words hang over a deliberately disproportionate whitespace.”

“never flinching in its pained and painful observation”

“V Press demonstrates that same integrity”

“Alex Reed can write.”

“In his final poem, he hymns…

Remove yourself.
Take these things –
pencil, prayer-wheel and blade
to fashion an opening.

In A Career in Accompaniment, Alex Reed has done all that, with dignity, courage and respect to his partner, their situation and to poetry.”

The full review and analysis by Beth McDonough can be found here

A sample poem and more information about the pamphlet may be enjoyed here

To order a copy of A Career in Accompaniment use the paypal link below

A Career in Accompaniment with postage & packing

Monday, 8 August 2016

Chez Nous Recommendations for The Old Man in the House of Bone

Chez Nous Recommendation for ‘The Old Man in the House of Bone’ by David Calcutt, with illustrations by Peter Tinkler.

To enjoy this fascinating poetry sequence, prepare a slow roasted lamb shank. As you pull the meat off the bone, let the narrative unfold. As you suck the juice, hear the rich words. No-one will disturb you because:

            No-one comes calling at the house of bone
            there are no foot shuffles on the front step
            no yoo-hoos through the letter box...

The atmosphere is gothic, so light some candles, preferably in an old, tarnished candelabra. Imagine a mansion, with dusty corners, such as Miss Havisham might live in. It is full of whispers and silences:

            Listen, the house of bone is talking to itself
            mumbling something, charms and incantations, maybe
            fragments of old fairy tales, and the old man’s trying to overhear
            straining to catch the drift of those gummy mutterings...

The old man at the heart of the narrative is the centre of a fragmenting world, He tries to hold on to its integrity but cannot manage it. He is not strong enough. Fortify yourself with a glass of vintage poet. Relish it while you can. Calcutt speaks of the fragility of memory, of life itself. The illustration on the last page is an empty chair and a single shoe, casting their shadows. Each poem has a summative last two lines, separated from the rest by a stanza break and italics. Take a sip of your port and savour those summary couplets. Together they make a shortened version of the sequence. Each one is a prayer or a spell:

            Let the house of bone be a church
            where you kneel and pray to nothing

            Let the house of bone be the map of your world
            that stain on the bottom of the teacup

Let the house of bone be a leaf
clinging to the last branch of the tree

 Your plate is empty, apart from the shank, stripped of its meat. Your port glass is sticky with the port lees. You have walked with the old man on his last journey. You have held space for him. The old man could be anyone. There is magic in this book. These poems are knitted from cobwebs and love.

Angela Topping

Buy The Old Man in the House of Bone now using the paypal link below:

The Old Man in the House of Bone with postage & packing

A sample poem and illustration from the pamphlet can be enjoyed here.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Submissions Window Closed

A big thank you to everyone who has sent in work during our recent 2-month submissions window, which closed at the start of this week.

We are looking forward to reading the poems and flash fictions, and anticipate some tough decisions ahead. All submissions sent according to our submission guidelines will receive a reply. We hope to respond to the initial sample selections in September/October, but please bear with us, as reading this volume of submissions takes time and care.

Meanwhile, samples of some of the work we've published so far can be enjoyed in the video below.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Read it, devour it, savour - Carrie Etter's Hometown reviewed

We're very very delighted to share another detailed and considered review of Carrie Etter's flash fiction pamphlet Hometown.

"...there is only one action to take with Hometown: read it, devour it, and savour these stories in your mind, but be prepared for them to linger for a long time afterwards." Santino Prinzi concludes in his review on Bath Flash Fiction Award.

 The full review, which includes thoughtful commentary on a number of Etter's individual flashes within the pamphlet, can be enjoyed here.

Buy a copy of Hometown now

Hometown with P&P

Monday, 18 July 2016

Review News

V. Press is very very delighted to share review and reading news for The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile by Claire Walker.

"In her review on the pamphlet's back, Carolyn Jess Cooke speaks of how 'nothing is taken at face value.' I, too, discovered this, and liked how it was often images from the natural world that, fairy tale like, transformed human beings into something other... The poems themselves pulled me in, and left me wanting to read more of Walker's work." From a review by Deborah Tyler-Bennett, Under the Radar, issue 17.

Buy a copy of The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile (RRP £4.99) now:

The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile P&P options

Claire Walker will also be reading from The Girl Who Grew Into a Crocodile at tonight's Leicester Shindig.

Chez Nous Recommendations for A Career in Accompaniment

A Career in Accompaniment by Alex Reed draws us into an intimate experience of caring for a lover that leaves your palate aching for tea – strong, comforting tea.

I recommend the high-tannin punch of the mighty Assam leaf, or for the connoisseur, the coppery tones of Sapphire Earl Grey, with just a touch of bergamot and blue malva flowers. Infuse longer for a more robust flavour – you will need it to be strong to help you through this journey of love, loss and challenge in the face of long-term illness. 

From a "beery dance" club on a Northern quay to a lonely cafĂ© table in Padua –the observations of a trip that becomes a fall and then "the trace of a limp" will leave your palate dry. Dry as the "flame licking dry wood" of Reed’s love and stifled rage (in ‘Woken by your Cough’) as he tries to hold on to what he is about to lose:

“Ambiguous loss. But I’d prefer
to say that I am haunted
by the ghost of her motion,
the flow of her - ”
(from ‘Ghost’)

This is definitely a read for a rainy day, tucked away with teapot and cup in a dusk-filled room. Let Reed take you to his lover sitting "at her table by the bay window - a flask of tea…within easy reach" (‘Long Day’). 

Sip. Savour. Reflect.

“The trees almost bare
just a few leaves hanging.
Rothko red. Framed by nothing
but pure air.”

Jane Campion Hoye

For  a sample poem from A Career in Accompaniment, please click here.

You can buy a copy of the pamphlet, RRP £5.50, using the paypal link below.

A Career in Accompaniment with postage & packing

Monday, 11 July 2016

Launching A Career in Accompaniment

V. Press is delighted to launch A Career in Accompaniment, a debut poetry pamphlet by Alex Reed.

A Career in Accompaniment is a pamphlet of love, loss and surprising lightness. Based on Alex Reed’s personal experiences, these poems witness what it is like to care for a lover with severe illness and to live with a future where there is no “escape without damage”. Spare and accessible language of the everyday reinforces the emotional power and resonance of “all the falling” but also recalls moments of great tenderness, when “the world lit in her eye”. This poetry of “fragile places” is very intimate yet very universal.

“Reading these poems, you are struck by their striving for truthfulness – as if that might be the key to making sense of a seemingly senseless situation, a life no one could prepare for. And yes, truthfulness seems to work – opening into absolute presence, careful observation of detail and moment-by-moment tenderness and courage. Here you are listening to a generous, unassuming voice, drawing our human vulnerability and capacity for endurance closely together, with space to breathe and gather what threatens to scatter. Restraint and discretion characterise the poems as well as openness – a hard-won but lightly-worn congruence. ‘A Career in Accompaniment’ reminds us what poetry makes possible.” Linda France

R.R.P. £5.50

Order now using the paypal link below

A Career in Accompaniment with postage & packing

A sample poem from the pamphlet can be found below:

A clearing

Inch the door a fraction further, look
for the tell-tale rise of her sheet,
my vigil of four days now. The doctor
said Just keep going. I try

to hold her presence like a breath
in this room; tread softly as I can,
like a walker in the woods who sees
a deer in a clearing. Until a twig

snaps underfoot. She is far away
and I am here – I picture her
waking, startled a second, then her eyes
drink me in; her thin arms, bare breasts,

her hand behind my head, I dream
of a lover, dream of the lovers we were.