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Ken Edwards

Ken Edwards

Here comes Grand Iota, a new press for a different kind of prose

Grand Iota is a new press dedicated to books that are out of the ordinary. Ken Edwards talks to Angela J. Phillip about his new venture with Brian Marley. The first two books Wild Metrics by Ken Edwards and Apropos Jimmy Inkling by Brian Marley – will be launched on Sunday 28 April at The Bookkeeper Bookshop in St Leonards.

Hi Ken, can you tell us a bit about your background and previous publishing experience?

Those people in the Hastings area who know of me as a musician (founder member with my partner Elaine of The Moors and Afrit Nebula) may be surprised to know that I think of myself primarily as a writer. For many years in London, and later Hastings, I earned my living as a journalist.

I’ve had several books out: for example, the novels Futures (1998) and Country Life (2015). Also, books of imaginative prose that can’t be pigeonholed: Bardo (a version of The Tibetan Book of the Dead set in Hastings – 2011), Down With Beauty (2013) and a book with no name (2016). And quite a bit of my poetry is collected in No Public Language (2006).

I also ran the independent poetry press Reality Street for over 25 years. This published more than 60 titles until I stopped in 2016. Mostly adventurous poetry by a large number of authors, including two anthologies of experimental writing by women, Out of Everywhere and Out of Everywhere 2, and an anthology of avant-garde takes on the sonnet form, The Reality Street Book of Sonnets, which was very successful.

Why did you decide to set up Grand Iota? How is it different from Reality Street?

When I decided to bring the Reality Street project to an end because I felt it had run its course, I had no intention of ever starting another press. But then I began having conversations with a friend and fellow writer based in Brighton, Brian Marley. Like me, he had cut his teeth on the avant-garde poetry scene of the 1970s, though he stopped writing poetry a long while ago. I knew he also wrote music criticism for The Wire and other publications, so we had other interests in common.

ken edwards2-150pix

When I first met Brian Marley he was writing these extraordinary, absurdist fictions. These, as well as my own prose writings, were being published by the same US-based magazine, Golden Handcuffs Review.

We had many conversations about the dismal lack of publishing opportunities in this country for imaginative prose writing that doesn’t fit the normal categories, and he convinced me we needed to start a new imprint!

ken edwards4-150pixBy this time, I was deep into writing an extended memoir of my time in the period between 1974-78 when I was living in communal households in London, writing poetry, and, for a brief, giddy period being co-opted into tutoring the daughter of a very well-known rock musician, which took me on a trip across the USA. I was also trying to set up a commune for writers and artists, which didn’t last very long. Together with a final section of reflection, fast-forwarding 40 years to the present day, this turned into my book Wild Metrics.

ken edwards3-150pixMeanwhile, Brian was writing his bizarre novel, Apropos Jimmy Inkling, about the trial of an imaginary gangster who may have had numerous different identities, may or may not be dead, and may or may not have even existed.

So we decided to start this imprint, Grand Iota, with, at least at the outset, the sole intention of getting these two books published. You can buy both of these books from Grand Iota.

Are you planning to make Grand Iota open for author submissions?

That’s a good question. We have no plans. It seems to me – and Brian and I continually have conversations about this – that for the present we are concentrating on these two books of ours. Once they are out in the world, we need to make decisions about what kind of a creature Grand Iota is, and what it should be in the future. It could be that it’s a one-off project. Or it could be a vehicle for both Brian and myself to publish our further writings. Or we could invite other authors in and publish them. But if so, on what terms? Should this be invitation only, or should we open it up for submissions? As an experienced small press operator, I know that one gets inundated with submissions if the invitation is open. Do we want that? Watch this space, is all I can say.

Could you say a little more about the two books that you are going to launch on Sunday 28 April?

Well, if you go to the Grand Iota website and navigate to the Books page you can read a fuller description of both Wild Metrics and Apropos Jimmy Inkling and also download a free pdf of the introductory pages of each as a taster. And if you come to the launch, you will hear Brian and me read extended extracts from the books, and actually see and feel, though hopefully not taste, the books themselves. And even buy them! That would make us happy.

Can you give us details of the launch?

The launch is hosted by the excellent second-hand bookshop in King’s Road, St Leonards, The Bookkeeper, on Sunday 28 April, at 6 pm for a 6.30 start. There will be a modicum of wine and soft-drink alternatives freely available. You can ask us questions. You can even get us to scribble in those copies of our books that you buy if you wish.

Thank you so much, Ken. I’m looking forward to the launch and can’t wait to read those new books.

For more information about Ken Edwards and past publications, please go to Reality Street.

…………………..

Lyra McKee – Rest in Peace

It was a sad week for journalists and for every one of us. In  A letter to my 14-year-old self  she wrote that things would only get better. That she would be able to walk down the street without fear… moving words.

Easter reading?

It’s been sunny beyond belief. This is an Easter holiday with sun, sea and pebbles. Hot enough to sit outside on the beach, in the garden, and read, read, read.

I’ve been reading all sorts but mainly books about mother/daughter relationships because that’s what I’m writing about in my own novel. Here is one that I can especially recommend.

Mom and me and Mom by Maya Angelou – this is non-fiction but it reads like a story. It’s the seventh and last in Maya Angelou’s autobiographies and more than anything, it is a portrait of, and a tribute to her mother, Vivian Baxter. It’s an account of how she, Maya, gradually comes to terms with the reasons that her mother sent her away when she was small. It’s a story of acceptance and of moving forward.

A book I’ve just started that is totally different, but which I can already recommend, is All My Colors by David Quantick, a writer based in Hastings. I went to his book launch in The Printed Matter bookshop last week and he will be featured in this blog in a few weeks’ time.

Another writer who will be featured soon is Candy Denman whose mystery novels are set in Hastings. Her next book You, Too is out on 2 May, the third in the Dr Jocasta Hughes Mysteries.

……………

That’s it for this week. Please join The Hastings Bookchat Facebook Group so we can chat together and tell each other what we’ve been reading and writing.

My personal blog is at angelaphillip.blogspot.com

Have fun and go gently.

Angela J Phillip

Posted 09:00 Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019 In: Hastings Bookchat


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