Picaro Press has posted bail for Gil Scott Heron

26-11-09On this blog we always seem to be so down on publishers (perhaps, and let’s be honest about this, it’s because we’re mostly emerging writers struggling to get things published), that I thought I’d give a shout out to the publisher of my forthcoming poetry collection Gil Scott Heron is on Parole. When I asked Rob ‘ Is this madness?’ after he’d read the first draft of the book (which was at the time intended to be launched as part of a Caribbean Immigration Exhibition being held at the Melbourne Immigration Museum), his answer was: ‘Of course it is. But publishing poetry is madness. So let’s do it.’

It’s not just that an imprint which has published the likes of Judith Rodriguez, Dorothy Porter and David Brooks took a young (can I still claim that now that I have a 3 in front of my numbering?) black she-poet on. It’s the fact that my poetry is directly political, that all the patois and the mother fucks remain in the text, that he sent me the first proof bound into a blood red cover, then a few weeks later the second proof arrived with a closed raised fist smack bang in the middle of the red. Rob didn’t balk when I asked him to wonkify the title lettering to make the whole thing look like an underground pamphlet. Despite the potential of not even breaking even (let’s face it, the book is not exactly likely to be on the pressie list for Mum), Picaro Press is risking it. So you see, some publishers are good guys after all.

the first proof

the first proof arrived
red / like
a heart splayed open

the note said i don’t know
i thought maybe this
wz revolutionary

i thought damn / here is a man
who gets / what the fuck
i am even doing

Gil Scott Heron is on Parole will be launched at Readings, Carlton in February 2010. You can catch me performing poems  from the book this evening at The Spinning Room, which will also feature the work of Benjamin Theolonius Sanders.

Tuesday December 15
8pm – 11pm
The Spinning Room
ET’s Bar, 211 High Street Prahran

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke is an Australian author and slam poet of Afro- Caribbean descent. Her short fiction collection Foreign Soil won the 2015 ABIA Award for Best Literary Fiction and the 2015 Indie Award for Best Debut Fiction, and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her memoir, The Hate Race, her poetry collection Carrying the World, and her first children’s book, The Patchwork Bike, will be published by Hachette in late 2016.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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  1. It’s funny. I heard John Hunter from John Hunter Press say exactly the same thing about his poetry imprint: ‘It’s mad — but let’s do it.’
    And the report that SPUNC produced about the state of independent publishing is called ‘A Lovely Form of Madness’ (or something like that), after a description by Ian Syson about his activities with Vulgar Press.

  2. Fantastic Maxine. Picaro does great work, I bought your ‘Original Skin’ from their website and subscribed to ‘Wagtail’. The chapbook feel has an edgy dangerousness, back to the days when Howl was banned, you can feel the power of the words bleeding through the pages. Good luck to you and IQ tonight.

  3. Good work, Maxine. Can’t wait to read it. By the way I read your poem last night from The Reader, about the life of a poet. Depressing yet honest and passionate. Loved it.

  4. Great work Maxine. That cover looks amazing kudos to Picaro Press. Can’t wait to get my sweaty little hands on a copy.

  5. Picaro Press is only one massive success away from turning the madness of Rob Riel into true visionary zeal. Because that is not only still possible. It’s likely to happen soon.

  6. It’s an old tune but I keeps singing it. Goes like this:

    There’s a scene in the movie Annie Hall where Woody Allen describes his feelings about love using an old joke: A guy goes to see a psychiatrist and says, “Doc, my brother’s crazy, he thinks he’s a chicken.” To which the doctor replies, “Well, why don’t you have him committed?” So the guy says, “Well, I would, but … we need the eggs”.

    Sums it up. Why publish poetry? Because we need the eggs.

  7. Thanks for the well-wishes all.

    Pity, John, that there seems to be so many literary vegans amongst us. All hail yourself and the other passionate omelette chefs!

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