01 June 2009

Next Seraph Press book – Ithaca Island Bay Leaves: A Mythistorima, by Vana Manasiadis

Today is one of the few days I appreciate the monarchy. Thanks for the holiday, it’s been lovely.

I haven’t left the house today, not even to poke my nose out into the courtyard. But it’s been a lovely, productive day, answering emails, reading things I need to read, doing some JAAM admin things, and typesetting. I love typesetting. It’s the point where the manuscript becomes a book, almost.

The book I’m typesetting is Ithaca Island Bay Leaves: A Mythistorima by Vana Manasiadis – the next proper book Seraph Press (that's me, basically) is going to publish (though I’m likely to be doing at least one chapbook before then – more on that soon). It will be published by the end of this year.

I’ve loved Ithaca, Vana’s debut collection of poetry, since I first read it in its early form several years ago, and it’s been exciting seeing it develop. Working on it again today I got really excited. I love this book! I love every book I’ve published – I have to really love them before, which is one of the reasons I publish so little. (The other reason is because it’s quite time consuming, and I have a lot of other competing things to consume my time.) But I’m enjoying how beautiful this book is, how special it is. Even the little negotiations – whether to have a glossary (no), a contents page (not where you’d expect it) – have been fun.

Like poetry collections I especially enjoy, Ithaca Island Bay Leaves is a collection that works as a whole. It weaves, it resonates, it has threads that run throughout it, threads that don’t. I’ve always seen it as being about being here and not here – being in New Zealand and Greece at the same time, being in the past and the present at the same time: ‘my cartography of there and not there’ , being between things: ‘the ocean is what I’m standing in – one tiptoe on the Pacific rim / and one not.’ It’s about Vana’s grandmother, and then about her mother, it’s people with people from Greek mythology hanging out in Wellington. It’s funny, and sometimes it’s so moving that it makes me cry.

And now I’ve applied for an ISBN, I’ve mocked up a cover (still need to request permission to use a very cool lithograph as the cover image, but I’ll show you it when it’s sorted – it’s going to be gorgeous!), and we’re well on our way to publication.

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