Sunday, 29 August 2010

I Lift My Eyes To The Hill

I lift my eyes to the hills,

from whence comes no help

from gods to temper the world’s ills.

And yet, although I see no saviour king

or holy angels,

there is something in those hills,

in this austere land, that consoles

and speaks of eternity,

something, I think, that comes from souls

of those who lived and died

and signed the landscape with their toil,

a signature of boundary walls

strung like scars across the slopes

of mountains almost old as time.

They built their hafods and their hendres,

stern faced chapels, endless drystone walls.

And men in whom the same blood runs

build still, build again the same walls

with the same stones when at last,

centuries having wreaked revenge,

the rocks slip sidelong and fall,

leaving gaping holes

where sheep flow, an undulating stream,

to pastures new .

They too have a patient and enduring

pattern of continuity that seems inbuilt;

Ewes teach lambs the lie of the land.

Generation after generation of sheep

have roamed among these rocks,

preserving a racial memory,

a living ancestry of flocks.

Perhaps there is something

Of that in me, a legacy willed

unknowingly by my Gran

who was London Welsh

and never saw these hills.

Friday, 4 June 2010

My newest children's story

I have finished my children's story about Dovey and his adventures after he was bought in the market.
In fact he lives with me at Bodyfuddau because the farmer who bought him didn't have the patience to deal with his over enthusiastic nature. The story is the alternative ending. It has lots of illustrations.
Here is one from the middle of the book.

For some reason this programme is refusing to upload pictures. I shall have to consult my expert advisor.
August 20rg
It did eventually upload the picture, I see. But I have decided the story ends too abruptly and needs a sequel so I intend to write the sequesl and then put both with several other dog stories into a book. This time i shall not be so ambitious as to add a picture opposite every page. So I'll have to do a lot of editing on the illustration side, use only the most appropriate for story one, maybe adapt some for the sequel and also draw several for the other stories. That should keep me busy for a while.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Hello anyone who is out there.
I have not had a lot of time for keeping blogs up to date, but things have been happening.
Merilang Press will soon be publishing a new revised version of David Gardiner's Rainbow Man, which has been out of print for a while. It has some really excellent stories in from this talented writer.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Letters From My Mill launched

Letters From My Mill has been launched successfully launched.
I managed to find a new second hand van with 24 hours to spare before leaving for Ceridwen. Also got the printers fixed in time to produce several copies of The Rainbow Pony, And Thereby Hangs a Tail and A Sheepdoggerel Anthology. So I managed to get to the book fair with a reasonable supply of all my books.

Here is me reading the opening chapter --

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

A Nice Plaudit From The Past

The other day I came across this article. Way back several years I was part of the translation project of Pushkin's collected works in English for his centenary. The article has my name in its original form, not the Welsh spelling I now write under.

From The Herald Scotland

Pushkin for the people A labour of love has ensured the complete works of the Russian master are available in English.

Ed Pearce

Published on 27 Dec 2003

Alexander Pushkin was already established as the Russian writer when, at 37, he was killed in a duel in February 1837. For Russian speakers, he is still the dominant figure, rated above the great novelists rather as Shakespeare stands above Fielding, Dickens and Jane Austen. The anglophone world limped behind, a translation of Eugene Onegin, the great verse novel, appearing in 1881. And Pushkin's work, 760 lyric poems, short fictions and autobiographical writings, appeared drib-and-drabbishly in the late nineteenth century. We know him largely from opera: Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin or Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov. As for Glinka's Pushkin setting, Ruslan and Ludmilla, we know the overture. Now, a non-Russian speaker, a Scottish politician and businessman, has organised, commissioned and called up scholars until, after 16 years' interrupted labour, he is Pushkin's impresario in the English-speaking world. In 1987, Iain Sproat went to the British Museum exhibition marking the 150th anniversary of the Russian's death. He enjoyed an epiphany, a burst of exhilaration sending him back to works he knew to ask: ''Why no complete translation?'' and ''Can I make it happen?'' He began conventionally, circulating major publishers and finding them glumly unquixotic. But a Macmillan editor pursued the idea after transferring to Pickering & Chatto, and a start was made. Sproat called up the best academic minds until he was chairing a board of 15 distinguished scholars who advised, translated (or found translators), adjudicated on offerings and set Russian meaning against English impact. Sproat knew the central importance of that from the start. His own first acquaintance with Eugene Onegin had been in a literal translation by Vladimir Nabokov, the super-subtle Russian writer in English, yet, for all his distinction, it failed. Sproat was taking the advice of academics such as John Bayley, Tony Briggs, of Oxford, who best understood the problems of accessible language, the leading American Pushkin scholar, J Thomas Shaw, of the University of Wisconsin, the translator/critic, Tatiana Wolf, and academician Dmitri Likhachev and Professor Leonid Arinstein, Russian authorities on Pushkin.

{He knew that} every kind of difficulty, financial, legal and administrative, would be thrown up like road blocks over the 16 years before triumphant completion last month, but relations with scholars, particularly both Russians, Shaw and another American, James Falen, were good. They shared a purpose, and believed in it. The same was true of the project's patrons, Raisa Gorbacheva, now sadly gone, and Prince Michael of Kent, helpfully a Russian speaker. But prominent among the roadblocks were publishing difficulties. Sproat found that the Pickering & Chatto arrangement didn't work. Its successors, Cambridge University Press, worried about costs, would withdraw after four years. Biting the bullet and the overdraft, Sproat undertook publication himself. This created problems of intermittency. He had been able to manage things because, since 1983, the former member for Aberdeen South was out of parliament. In 1992 he not only got back but was quickly made number two at the Department of Heritage, handling tourism, broadcasting, the arts and sport. As for money, the Russians, living through successive crises, were sympathetic but not expansive. Essentially, he bore the costs himself - well in excess of (pounds) 100,000. The caravan moved on, targets were set and largely met. There should be 15 volumes, coming out in batches of five, the first to appear on June 6, 1999, the anniversary of Pushkin's birth, the second in 2000. Both objectives were achieved but the final batch ran into difficulties over two volumes. One of these, The History of Peter, exists in Russian only in note form. As this impossible text drew from Daphne Percival an exceptional piece of scholarship, the time was well lost. Translations generally turned up surprises. Sproat had been approached by Roger Clarke, a civil servant who had worked for him at the Department of Trade from 1980 to 1983. He had done a prose translation of Onegin: might they be interested? Clarke's brilliant work simply had to be accepted. It has been published in one volume with James Falen's verse translation. At the publication dinner, Leonid Arinstein remarked, as someone reading six languages, that only English has the affinities with Russian to serve a text, in prose or verse, with full effect. There was good cause to celebrate. The first tranche of five volumes took the supreme prize at the Moscow Book Fair in 1999. The Russian authorities have shown enormous pleasure in the achievement, throwing receptions and that famous banquet, at which the food of Pushkin's day was served and where, along with the ineluctable vodka and the Georgian wine, some wellwisher, mindful of the Scottish connection, laid on quantities of Barr's Irn Bru. The huge task is complete. Orthodox publishing has been by-passed, 100 translators have submitted, and after 16 years we possess every published word of Alexander Pushkin in our own language. In the words of Raisa Gorbacheva: ''A heroic and noble undertaking!'' Thanks to Sproat's scholars, the supreme Russian poet can be ''Our Pushkin''.

Friday, 5 March 2010

It must be a conspiracy

I have been intermittently trying to do various blog and site related things but my brain has been totally jiggered by the rapid advance of the book do and the fact that my car and printers are dead. At least I think one of the latter has now recovered having finally decided to tell me what was wrong.
The car is in the garage still in bits and the insurance engineer has been to look at it and then gone off to do sums and talk to colleagues. Meanwhile I am a mile and a half from any shops, doctor etc and dependent on lifts.
My new books have arrived and are lovely -- mainly due to Griff taking over the formattinmg. Of the books I make in house two were down to one copy of each. So I have been trying against the odds to get some more done. After all a publisher at a book fair showing one copy per title wouldn't warrant even a passing glance.
As soon as I got down to it the laser printer refused to work or to show what was wrong [it used to very specific even if a liar at times] so I went over to the epson and printed quite a lot of pages till that decided, also not showing the usual 'need so-and-so' popup, to print only stripes. I got in touch with a national firm of printer repairers who came out pretty fast and serviced both and left me happy with two working printers. The next day I printed the rest of my 16 copies and started bookbinding. Next morning the laser refused to print. Rang the printer people who have relisted me for a visit and turned on epson. Printed stripes but I knew black was low, replaced it and got a couple of nice copies. Then asked for a page of photos and was rewarded by photos covered in pools of black ink. So rang abd reported that. So no printers. Did all sewing and gluing and now have 8 copies of Sheepdoggerel Antholgy and 8 of Thereby Hangs a Tail, the latter minus covers.
So I decided to get back to trying to understand the blog situation.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Letters From My Mill

The sequel to the preceding post about Rachel Sarai's Vineyard now follows.
My first reaction to the book's withdrawal was shock and consternation as I was committed to the forthcoming promotion event and Mrs Rey now forbade me to promote her book there. Things were rather too advanced to cancel the event as I had also arranged to attend a book fair at Ceridwen the following day.
Fortunately over recent years I had been working on a translation of Alphonse Daudet's Lettres de Mon Moulin, the story of his relocation from Paris to an old mill in Provence in the 19th century and a whole series of stories of local Provencal colour. This was finished and proof read and I had been formatting it under the kind tutelage of another friend. WE's reached the stage of the book block being ready but the cover an image in my head. I hurriedly painted a picture for it and started trying to master photoshop but time was running out so my friend offered to format the cover and yesterday I actually submitted an order and will hopefully soon have copies for sale.

The launch will be at Ceridwen Centre in Carmarthenshire at 7pm on March 12th. Entry is free and all are welcome, There will be food and drink and an open mic session on a French / travel theme. Here is a link to my website for details [the details in events on Ceridwen's site still mention Rachel Sarai's Vineyard but that will shortly be fixed.

The Perils of Publishing

Merilang Press is my publishing house [a very small one] in North Wales. I started self publishing originally because I felt that, at 70 odd years, if I waited for someone to publish my poems as a collection, I'd probably have expired before any book appeared.
At first I produced chapbooks that could be just printed and stapled, but then I got adventurous.
Many years ago I had a border collie puppy who used to send postcards home to his mum on my friend's farm. It was just a sort of in joke, but my friends kept saying, 'You should write a book.' And I kept saying. 'I haven't got time. Teaching languages earns me some money. Writing funny stories about dogs probably wouldn't.' However. once the seeds are sown, they start growing and eventually the book was under weigh. In fact so much so that it kept growing until there was no way it could be stapled.
Even more years ago I had once taken a bookbinding course so I racked my brains and sifted out what I could remember of bookbinding. The first copies were a bit wobbly but I improved and the bools sold. Eventually I started to feel a bit harrassed by the need always to make more, so I turned all the illustrations to greyscale and set about becoming officially a publisher so that the printers would deal with me.
But it's not as easy as that; books have to be submitted as PDF files and I had always flinched even at the mention of these. Fortunately a very kind friend formatted it for me and eventually And Thereby Hangs a Tail [second edition] appeared. I still manufacture more copies of the first [coloured] edition but under less pressure.
The next step was that David Gardiner, who had formatted the book for me needed a publisher for his second book of short stories as his publisher had vanished. So he formatted it and I published it and this was followed by an anthology of prose and poetry from Gold Dust magazine for which David is the editor. All went well and I began to learn all the intricacies of submitting and then ordering books.
Part three of the story is that David mentioned a woman, Deborah Rey, who also wanted to publish a novel and was looking for a publisher. The book, Rachel Sarai's Vineyard, had been published as an autobiography and withdrawn because of, she said, trouble from hoax hunters and holocaust deniers but now it was to be a novel. I agree and so di she and David formatted the book which was then published as a quality hardback.
The road to publication was bit rocky as Deborah was very determined about what I could and could not say about the book but wanted lots of publicity as urgently as possible. We launched it as her request along with David's book in London with very little publicity beforehand.
So this year I decided to do a promotion event for the book in Wales. As this drew near I ordered more copies to have some to sell at the event and as soon as I did that the author withdrew the book, leaving me with 50 copies and an arranged publicity promotion. How this has been solved will be my next post.