Guest blog by Jay Whittaker.
Thank you to everyone who entered the Debut Poetry Collection Prize this year. We had a very strong long list — congratulations to everyone who made it on to it — which was narrowed down to ten excellent entries from eight poets (2 submitted two entries that were each strong). The short list was:
At Cinnamon Press we love books. We adore poetry and fiction, literature that defies genre and books that take risks. We find writers with distinctive voices who have something real to say exciting to work with. So what would make an independent press in love with words and story declare we don't want good books?
We were extremely sorry to hear that Landeg White passed away in the early hours of Sunday, 3 December. Born in South Wales in 1940, Landeg was a gifted writer, academic, novelist and poet, who published two of his novels with Cinnamon Press, most recently Ultimatum, which will be launched in February.
The twice-yearly writing courses at Ty'n y Coed, near Conwy, has become a firm fixture in the Cinnamon calendar. This November's autumn course was fantastic example of why the courses are so important to our ethos: eight writers coming together to find support and inspiration, each of them making a breakthrough with the work and leaving with a stronger commitment to writing than they had are the start of the week. But don't take my word for it. Here's Diane Woodrow's take on her time at Ty'n y Coed this November.
The notion that you are here for some purpose; that all you have to do is discover the one thing hidden deep in the recesses of your soul or psyche in order to fulfil your life's goal or nature or some other externally determined objective, is a pervasive one. An Internet search will bring up many and various ways to discover your purpose with the assumption that there is an esoteric 'very reason why you exist', more colloquially 'what you were put on earth for'. Yet not only are these supposedly deeply-embedded purposes hard to find, most of them seem to be described in sweeping statements so general as to become meaningless. Things like being here 'to bring peace' or 'radiate light'.
An irresistible sleeping sickness had Perl in its grip.
Hard to imagine two more different people than Alfred Kubin and Eric Basso. Kubin: print maker, illustrator of the works of Poe and E.T.A. Hoffmann, sometime associate of the Blaue Reiter. Basso a novelist, poet, playwright and critic, a modernist in the best sense of the term, a man located far off the mainstream. Yet, they've both offered visions of societies collapsing under the grip of plagues of sleeping sickness. In Kubin's 1908 novel, The Other Side (quoted above), the sickness gradually overruns the city of Perl, a strange, failing utopia located outside customary space and time. In Basso's 1977 cult classic, The Beak Doctor, the sickness has already consumed an unnamed town whose deserted streets are choked by swirling fog and which teeters on the verge of collapse:
It's never easy judging a competition and this year's entrants to the Debut Novel Prize were a particularly knotty group to unpick. But, at last, we managed to decide on a 15 strong long list to go over — and over — to arrive at the final short list of:
I've attended 4 book events in 4 countries in the last ten days and although each one has been completely different from the next, they've all been excellent experiences. From the launch of Landeg White's Ultimatum in iconic Lisbon bookshop, Ler Devagar, to an upstairs room in a pub in the Welsh border town of Presteigne, where myself and Susan Richardson read from several of our poetry collections; from an art-space café/bar in Edinburgh for the launch of Jay Whittaker's debut collection, Wristwatch, to the cosy and well-stocked Drake's bookshop for the launch of the second in Tracey Iceton's Celtic Colours Trilogy, Herself Alone in Orange Rain, there were key ingredients that meant the audiences were delighted, moved and engaged. And books were sold. So what is the magic list that makes a book event work?
Lisbon is sleepy and quiet at 8.30 in the morning when I set out in search of breakfast after a good night's sleep in a tiny apartment on Rua Amadeu de Sousa Cardoso. Back at the LS Factory, a complex of restaurants, boutique shops and Livraria ler Devagar, where we launched Landeg White's novel, Ultimatum, last night, the cobbled street between former industrial warehouses and factories is totally deserted. There's a light on in the one café offering breakfast, but they don't open till 9.30 and I've got a plane to catch this morning, so I wander a little further down the hill.
Another weekend, another Cinnamon launch? Almost. Well, hardly. It looked as though Liz Hayward wasn't going to make it at all, rushing in just in time — thanks to them wonderful English roads — but she didn't let the flusters get in the way of a great reading from her contribution to In the Cinnamon Corners.
In this fascinating article, Maria Jastrzębska talks about the genesis and background of her eagerly awaited new book.
It's been a bit of a wait but we're happy to announce that the annual short story prize has now been adjudicated. The competition for the winning slots was close, the gap between third and first place was tremendously narrow, so the job of deciding was particularly hard. However, here are my final choices:
If you've been following Jan's blog you'll know she's been hard at work on the sequel to her extraordinary novel, This is the End of the Story — a book described by one reviewer as "incredible … one of the finest examples of experimental contemporary fiction I have read" and one we're very proud of indeed. Meanwhile, Cinnamon's intrepid team of artists have been labouring over the cover to this next volume, A Remedy for All Things (okay, not so much a "team" as me and Freyja, who generally works in an executive capacity although she's not above rolling up her sleeves and helping by, say, sitting on my keyboard or swatting the mouse to the floor). A much anticipated and debated cover it has been, too (at least by Jan and Freyja … mostly Jan, if the truth be known) and, at last, in this exclusive preview, we can unveil the finished artwork. Drum roll, Don …