This is Asterism, edited by Tiffany Anne Tondut, who has modestly left her name off the cover. It’s ‘an anthology of poems inspired by punctuation’, and guess what? I made the team! (”I made the team” immediately in the running to be 2016′s most irritating euphemism for “Look, I got published again”). The poem of mine included is called ‘–’ and it’s about the dash. Not the hyphen (-), and not the em-dash (—), which I never use and which can, frankly, get fucked, but the good old en-dash dash,the single most useful tool in the transcript editor’s punctuation kit. When people write, they tend to write in grammatically sound sentences. When they speak, they speak in chopped up fragments of sentences. When you write down what people speak, you need your pal, the dash, to sew those fragments together.
(The dash is also a cause of some frustration to me as a web designer and occasional blogger – there’s no key for it on the keyboard, so you have a choice of either lazily employing the hyphen in its place or remembering to use special characters as you’re typing).
This is one of two posts I’m putting up today concerning relatively new small presses putting out anthologies. Laudanum, publishers of Asterism, are brand new. This is their first book. When Kirsty and I started Sidekick in 2009, the poetry small press scene (as we knew it) was all about single-author collections, and we felt we were making a kind of foolish, gung-ho stand in concentrating on collaborative works. Now you have the likes of the Emma Press, Live Canon and Laudanum on the scene, it’s like reinforcements have arrived. The thing about anthologies is that the small indie publisher loses two of its most important demographic pie-slices – the ecstatically proud friends and family of the author, and those who queue to buy the author’s book after a barnstorming live performance. An editor who produces a book simply does not have the same cache with his or her non-writerly acquaintances – it’s not ‘your’ book – and nobody does a gig in order to sell copies of the anthology they appear in.
All of which (segue incoming!) makes the launch event very important, so if you’re free tonight, Laudanum are launching Asterism, amid a flurry of readings and intoxication, at the Betsey Trotwood in Farringdon, London, from 7.30. You can hear my dash poem out loud and try to guess where the dashes are in it (hint: there are only two).