We love a beautiful book cover and work hard to make our books visually strong. Sally Castle has designed many covers for Two Rivers Press. She writes here about the inspiration for the cover artwork for The Constitutionals by Peter Robinson, which explores and celebrates the therapeutic links between reading, writing, walking and thinking through a fictional treatment of the meditative author’s convalescent wanderings around the town of Reading.
The illustration started with drawings made as an immediate intuitive response while reading the manuscript. Images such as land marks: the Cemetery Junction arch and the Wycliffe Church; trees: a magnolia and a monkey puzzle outside a house in Eastern Avenue, buildings: New Town terrace houses and the gas holder, the Co-op with clock at ten past six and the green tiled Oxfam book shop. All familiar places to me: literally, in that I was born at 27 Hatherley Road, my grandparents lived at number 30, uncle and aunt lived at 68 Amity Road in New Town. Grandfather and uncle used to meet up at Cemetery junction to watch the traffic!
Several versions were developed combining the images together using watercolour and collaged with an old street map, a receipt from the Co-op (Your store Your say) and Robinson Crusoe as portrayed in an early illustrated edition. The result was also simplified down to a flat linocut print but the watercolour collage with a stormy sky was the best choice to ‘ventriloquize the grateful dead’
Thanks to Peter for asking me to do his cover and to Nadja Guggi for her support, encouragement and working magic with her technical expertise.
Sally Castle is a printmaker, illustrator and lettering artist, based in Ruscombe. You can see more of her work on her website http://www.sallycastle.co.uk
A Robinsonade in which our narrator, weakened and marooned by illness, walks his local streets, pondering on recovery and rescue, for himself and for the diseased society in which he finds us confined.
Another lovely cover and a fascinating and unusual portrayal of Reading through the eyes of a figure haunted by being called Crusoe in childhood. What does he discover about the place in which he’s settled with his wife, whom he will call Friday, and their ocean-haunted daughter as he ‘sets out to avert global catastrophe, hoping to trigger the end of neoliberalism by going for a walk’?
The original artwork for the cover, designed by Sally Castle, will be on display at Whiteknights Studio Trail (venue 9) on 15/16 June where you can meet both artist and author. And there will be a launch party at 24 New Road on Saturday 15th June, 6.30pm, with readings and a chance to ask Peter about the therapeutic links between reading, writing, walking and thinking.
However the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland leaves the European Union, if it does, the long and deep-rooted connections between the poetic cultures of these islands and those of continental Europe will continue to be, and need to be, sustained.
As a celebration of these continuities, whose existence has, if anything, been made more urgently manifest by the current political crisis in which the countries of the British archipelago find themselves, the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading and Two Rivers Press, the town’s most prominent publisher, hosted an evening of readings featuring poems and translations from or about experiences of Europe.
This event also served to launch two new volumes on these and related themes, Ravishing Europa by Peter Robinson (published by Worple Press) and A Part of the Main by Philip Gross and Lesley Saunders (publish by Mulffran Press). Jane Draycott, reading from Storms under the Skin, her translations of Henri Michaux (Two Rivers Press), a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation in 2017, joined them; and the evening, hosted by Steven Matthews, included guest appearances by other poets published by Two Rivers Press in 2019, including Kate Behrens, James Peake and Conor Carville.
The event took place in the foyer café at the Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Road, Reading, on Tuesday 12 March 2019.
This event was supported by a grant to the Department of English Literature from the Endowment Fund of the University of Reading and by gifts in kind from Two Rivers Press.
A reading at Toppings bookshop, Bath, from the newly published A Part of the Main by Lesley Saunders and Philip Gross. This collaborative project grew from an email exchange after the referendum of 2016. In a time of soundbites and binary rhetoric, it gives the pressing questions about individual and national identity more breathing-space, more heart- and head-room.
Tuesday 12 MARCH, 5.30pm, MERL
POETRY IN EUROPE
Jane Draycott, Lesley Saunders, Philip Gross and Peter Robinson will celebrate relations between contemporary British poetry and poetry from Europe. Far from being merely a lament or complaint, it will draw attention to the deep continuities between our poetic culture and that of our nearest neighbours, underlining that these continuities will continue despite the United Kingdom’s imminent withdrawal from the European Union.