About Me

Wales, United Kingdom
Cinnamon Press is a small, independent publisher based in Wales & publishing the best new poetry and fiction with occassional non fiction and cross-genre titles. Books come from Wales, the UK and the world. We run writing competitions twice a year to find new voices in poetry and fiction with three categories (novel/novella; poetry; short stories) - each category has a cash prize plus publication. You can find our excellent list of titles at www.cinnamonpress.com

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Bigots, not poet to blame for launch furore

Having forced the cancellation of the launch of the poetry collection darkness is where the stars are by patrick jones at Cardiff Waterstones last Wednesday, emails of support have been pouring into us at Cinnamon Press, with blogs and vlogs appearing world-wide, so it was a shock to read a BBC article quoting an inflammatory email from Gerry Johnson, MD of Waterstones, particularly as Mr Johnson had reassured me that he would desist from sending the inflammatory on Friday evening. The email blamed patrick and Cinnamon Press for events that led to the cancellation, implicating Cinnamon Press in bad faith by changing the nature of the agreement with Waterstones.

So let’s set the record straight. patrick has been sending emails to several organisations for years, engaging in debate over a range of contentious political issues. None of this had anything to do with the launch and patrick’s communication with Christian Voice was of an ongoing nature and began long before any event was planned. To conflate this long term debate with deliberate provocation is inaccurate and unacceptable. No one associated with Cinnamon Press informed Christian Voice about the launch.

It was both disappointing and distressing to see the recalled email quoted by the BBC, particularly as it contains the very shaky allegation that ‘provocative action... was taken without prior discussion with the store or their consent and altered the nature of the pre-agreed event.’ If this wasn’t so outrageous it would be laughable. The ‘agreement’ in question was a couple of informal emails agreeing a date and that Cinnamon Press would turn up with refreshments and introduce our poet, which is exactly what we did, only to find we’d travelled for five hours for nothing. At no point was there any mention that the poet needed to keep quiet about the content of his work. Why would an author need Waterstones’ consent to continue a discussion begun months or years before and which made no reference to the launch? It is extremely bad faith to suggest that patrick and Cinnamon Press changed anything or gave grounds for the cancellation. We turned up in good faith having been told the day before by Waterstones that they were expecting protests, but had no intention of bowing to these or allowing the protesters to prevent the launch.

We remain adamant that the only people to blame for all of the furore are those members of Christian Voice prepared to threaten violence and acts of public disorder. By shifting the focus to trying to blame the poet the real issue is being lost. The real issue being that Christian Voice are being allowed to trample free speech with their threats and are continuing to threaten the venues that patrick reads at. Over the years patrick jones has corresponded with many organisations with whom he strongly disagrees and on every other occasion the result has been mature, if passionate, discussion, not threats. Anyone suggesting that patrick or Cinnamon Press are in any way to blame is simply handing these unsavoury bullies ammunition.

Patrick will be reading at Y Ddraig Goch Cafe, Eastgate Street, Caernarfon, LL55 1AG (opposite Weatherspoons pub) on November 21st 7.30 p.m. and at the Welsh Assembly at noon on December 11th in committee room 24, despite continued threats – please come and support him if you can and if you can’t be there then buy a book – annoy a bigot :)

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