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

Friday, 9 October 2009

Pro-active Poets

No-one buys poetry books - or do they?

It's true that poetry has low sales in even in small press terms, but the picture is an uneven one. Some poetry sells barely at all, while other collections keeping steaming along. Is it down to quality? Well, bad poetry (we hope) doesn't sell and sell, but the real difference (assuming we're talking about good poetry in the first place) is the poet. Some of them are just more pro-active than others - they network on Facebook, they attend poetry groups, they tap into poetry venues and interested, innovative independent book shops.

Over the last few years our two top selling poets have been the two who work tirelessly not only to promote their own poetry, but to promote poetry in general. Both Impossible Objects (short listed for the Forward Prize for best first collection) and Creatures of the Intertidal Zone constantly attract new readers because the authors of these books are as vibrant and engaged in person as they are on the page.

These are not the only Cinnamon poets who work tirelessly to make sure their poetry reaches audiences, but they are great examples of what a difference a pro-active poet can make and I'm delighted that one of our newest authors, Daphne Gloag, is obviously going to be amongst these best sellers. Daphne's collection, A Compression of Distances, will be launched next Tuesday alongside the wonderful debut collection from Claudia Jessop (This is the woman who) and with a reading from another of our pro-active poets, Wendy Klein, from her collection Cuba in the Blood.

Daphne has already taken the opportunity to sell the book to fellow poets at workshops and has read at the fantastic independent Pitshanger Bookshop. She has lots of other readings lined up, but in the meantime everyone is most welcome to the launch on Tuesday 13th October - LUMEN, 6.30 for 7.00p.m., 88 Tavistock Place W.C.1 Tubes: Russell Square, Kings Cross, St Pancras. Entry £4/£3 Wine, proceeds to the Cold Weather Shelter.

Friday, 20 February 2009

When the World is Warm Vanilla Custard

Breathing in Colour; Clare Jay; 280pp; Piatkus; £7.99

Clare Jay is a lecturer in creative writing who specialises in ‘dreaming into writing’ workshops. Her short stories and poetry have already won several prizes, including first place in the most recent Cinnamon Press writing award, with the extra-ordinary and powerful title story of the anthology, The Sandhopper Lover. In one sense it’s not surprising that her writing has been noticed by a solid, quality publisher; writing this good deserves to be read. What is refreshing is to see such innovative writing getting attention.

Breathing in Colour is a novel with a well mined theme, the disappearance of a child. The book opens with Alida receiving the news that her eighteen year old daughter, Mia, has gone missing while back packing in India and might well be dead. Like other novels in this genre there is a back story of pain and repressed memories and emotions that emerges slowly as the novel progresses. Into this mix is thrown a broken marriage and an uneasy relationship between Alida and Mia’s father, Ian, who is far too eager to dismiss Alida’s competence and theories. To complicate matters further Alida encounters Taos as she begins her search in India. A jaded and enigmatic Australian, who Alida is not wholly convinced is trustworthy, Taos has his own story that resonates with the main plot, enriching the narrative.

All of this alone would make for an interesting read, but the well developed, credible characters and a compelling plot are only the skeleton of a novel for a writer of Clare Jay’s talent. Alida is someone who has lucid dreams and Jay uses her considerable knowledge of this area to great effect. In less able hands the dreams could easily be clumsy and artificial; the use of dreams is ambitious and generally fails, but Jay deploys exactly the right language and control to ensure that Alida’s dreams are gripping, authentic and lift the narrative beyond the ordinary. And Jay doesn’t stop there. Mia has grown up with the condition of synaesthesia and interspersed with the third person narratives of Alida’s search and gradual epiphany are diary entries written by Mia and going back to her childhood. The imagery in these passages is stunning. So often debut novel writers simply over-write when they are trying to convey description, but Jay’s poetic sensibilities are stretched to the maximum here and results some of the most innovative imagery I’ve read in prose. The very best images combine surprise and lucid observation.

The result is one of the most poignant, humane, original and exquisitely written first novels I’ve come across. I’m proud that Cinnamon Press has published stories and poems by Clare Jay and I eagerly await her next novel. This is a writer with a truly unique voice and a willingness to take risks with form and language to produce something inventive. By the end of the novel I knew what it was to breathe in colour. Buy the book.