Tuesday, 26 February 2013

How rats apply for funding

Alas, in the usual way:

Finding the many forms and instructions required.

Sticking bums to seats for as long as ratfully possible at a stretch for as many days or hours as there are between now and the postal deadline.

Apologising for short notice while asking others for support material. 

Making rough drafts.

Yawning, sighing, complaining to nest-mates.

Apologising for very short notice asking for further material . . .

Making several more drafts.

Finding the middle ground between grovelling unworthily and demanding rescue from self-martyrdom: asking boldly for money for very good work on very good projects.

 Checking source documents. Discovering wrong turns.

Getting ratty.

Backtracking. Revising.

Prevaricating. Procrastinating. Drawing rats.

Getting back to it.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Cooking up another 10k

Ratty looked anxiously in the mirror this morning. He'd seen me perusing the website of Vladimir Sivtsevich Volodja, an international Russian illustrator whose email had just popped into my box. Yes, I wrote back, I love your sophisticated, witty and often tender illustrations, but for now will have to make do with the old Pen-cils and paintbrush. Naturally, Ratty wonders if he mightn't be rendered a little more suave (not to say consistent) at the hands of a professional.

I trotted out the cliché about comparisons and took the blue cheese out of the fridge along with a couple of ripe figs. The distraction seems to be holding.

Talking of comparisons, none will be made in the case of our next 10k author, Aaron Blaker. Nor can I find much about him online (although I see he's had stories in Best NZ Fiction #6 and Takahe, one placed second in their annual competition). Okay, not exactly undiscovered but it's still exciting to be introducing a potent newish voice here at Rosa Mira.  I first read Aaron's short novella, The Siren, aloud in the car between Geraldine and Oamaru. When I finished, the driver and I, momentarily silenced by its power,  put out our bottom lips in the gesture that says, gosh, that's a rare one, that needs to be published. Looking at his other stories, too, I can say that his writing is marinated in the currents of desire, provocation, yearning, and mistrust that swirl beneath the light-spangled surfaces of life in these islands, and steeped in the close reading of his literary elders — but distinctly his own.

Set in Tolaga Bay on NZ's East Cape, The Siren is both deeply humane and darkly uneasy; dark in the way of so much NZ fiction, but suffused with blessed light. We're editing it as I write. More anon.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Melissa Green creates a stir

Melissa Green, photo from The Poetry Center at Smith College
News yesterday about the forthcoming memoir by poet Melissa Green has set up a thrum of excitement. For her Tuesday Poem, NZ novelist, poet, bibliophile and teacher of creative writing, Mary McCallum at O Audacious Book, has posted Czesław Miłosz's 'Song on the end of the World', which Melissa once shared on her blog (Mary recalling that it's almost two years since Christchurch was so badly shaken), and delights in news of The Linen Way.

Over at her much-loved blog, Marylinn Kelly (US writer and enquirer/philosopher, art and craft professional, maker of fabulous stamps) also enthuses over this publication, and shares Melissa's heartache of a poem, 'Daphne in Mourning'.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Melissa Green, poet extraordinaire, writes memoir

I began to tell you the other day about The Linen Way currently being prepared for publication: a memoir by acclaimed US poet, Melissa Green. It's been a fantastic privilege to work with Melissa in the spit and polishing of her fine prose, a filigree setting for the gems of poetry included in the text, poems written at critical junctures of her life: following the death of her father; on being released from the hell of mental illness to write again; on the death of beloved friend, mentor and giant of poetry, the Russian exile, Joseph Brodsky.

Melissa talks in her memoir about the despair that has dogged her – 'a bright and bookish child' who grew up in a chaotic household – all her life:

I have lived with two deep, emotional undercurrents running side by side like tracks of a train. One was my absolute belief that I would write a shelf full of books—from the age of six, I saw them lined up in our town library and knew they would be there forever—and the other was a bedrock conviction that it was too excruciating to be alive and that I might at any moment end my life. 

The blessing for us is that Melissa has managed to stay on the side of life, writing her exquisite poems. Another Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott also took a close interest in her work. After reading the final draft of the elegy to her father (the now-celebrated The Squanicook Ecologues) when she was still young and uncertain of her work, he finally lifted his head and roared, ‘This, darlin’, is one fuckin’ great elegy. Maybe one of the two or three best written in this century! It’s fuckin’ great!’

You can read the Prologue to the Ecologues here.

For years Melissa lived with her grandmother.

No one believed that my grandmother’s house could really be black. Even the house painters were sure the stained shingles were charcoal gray until they took a chip to the hardware store to match it, and returned with cans of black stain. … Her black house became my prison and my sanctuary, she both my warder and the reason I could stay alive.

Melissa no longer inhabits the black house except in metaphor now and then and not without a fight. Ratty is sitting outside the one he asked me to draw, nervously hoping for Melissa to happen by so he can show her the lines he scratched for Lily the Pink on the inside of a cornflake packet, now rolled and beribboned.

Melissa has been one of the Tuesday poets for some time and you can read more of her work here.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

How I'm whired for epublishing

Emma Neale tagged me in this auto-interview round-robin thing and I'm all tuckered out from asking myself ten questions and answering them all by myself, and/but they're all about Rosa Mira Books so hop on over to my other blog to read more.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Rat Ascendant II

Ratty has ascended New Zealand, distorting it a little under the weight of summer raspberrries with cream and the quiches served at the top of every pitch.

He finds himself in a cosy nest near Whangarei, but is alarmed to be sharing digs with a Tonkinese, as sinuous, sensuous and gregarious a cat as a rat could hope to avoid, one who remembers in every fibre the former goddess status of her species.

While he's hiding from the cat, I'm happily revising and receiving and sending out contracts. The next to be acted upon will be an aching, frank and tender memoir, The Linen Way, by US poet Melissa Green.

Meanwhile, warm comment is being made by readers about The Happiest Music on Earth. It's only 3 USD, a good start for readers trying out their new reading devices.

The year looks exciting, but that's all I have time to say just now. The rat has bundled up his swimming togs (remember the mankini?) and is hopping about impatiently in the doorway. Have to go.