We’re are very excited to reveal our cover for Maytree 37 as, what turns out to be a first for our press, we have been able to combine the author’s own artwork within the design.
The Storm in the Piano by Christopher James features poems inspired by history and music; peacocks and swimming pools, and are peopled by the famous, the tragic and obscure. From Charles Blondin teetering on a high wire strung around the Earth, to Buddy Holly being blasted from a basement in Damascus, they cross borders of space and time. Whether it’s Picasso wing walking on a French biplane, or the Warden of Pluto patiently waiting to be relieved, the poems all explore our potential and what it means to lead a good life.
Christopher James is a first prize winner of the National Poetry Competition (2008) the Ledbury, Oxford Brooks and Bridport prizes. He is also a recipient of an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. He has published several collections, including Farewell to the Earth (Arc, 2011), and The Fool (Templar, 2014). He has also published three Sherlock Holmes novels, including The Adventure of the Ruby Elephants (MX, 2015). He lives in Suffolk with his family, folding bicycle and ukulele.
The cover features Christopher’s cut-up, The house of poet Stephen Spender at 15 Loudoun Road, St. John’s Wood, London.
Christopher describes the inspiration for his artwork as follows:
In 2020, inspired in equal part by Matisse and Peter Blake, I started creating paper cut-up collages – first of still life (especially instruments and fruit) then architecture and landscapes. I typically work to A3 size, but have gone as large as a metre square, and as small as A4. I cut up the pieces, as if assembling my own jigsaw. Once I’ve got everything in the right place, I take a photo to make a note of the positioning. Only then do I start the painstaking process of sticking things down. Pritt Stick is my glue of choice, as it gives you about five seconds’ grace, when you can reposition things if they’re not quite right. One of my biggest projects has been a sequence of 20 ‘houses of the poets.’ I started with Dove Cottage, home of Dorothy and William Wordsworth and the logical next move was Coleridge’s rather grander residence at Greta Hall. Keats’ House in Hampstead followed, as did John Betjeman’s flat in Cloth Fair, London, and the Bronte parsonage. At the same time, I reread their poetry. The process is totally immersive and takes you very close to the spirit of the poet and their work. Working for half an hour on a window Sylvia Plath might have leant out of, takes you uniquely close. I enjoy exploring different styles of architecture; the effect of different lights and times of day — from Pablo Neruda’s surrealist self-designed house in Chile to Edward Thomas’ very ordinary cottage in Surrey. I find my artwork the perfect companion (and antidote) to writing poetry. As someone once said: ‘you can’t write poems all the time.’
And here’s a link to Christopher’s online gallery: Houses of the poets – The Friday Poem
The Storm in the Piano will be officially released on the 17 June 2022 and we can’t wait!
Don’t forget that it’s not too late for a chance to see your work published as a special Three Trees Edition later this year – you have until midnight on the 30 April 2022 to enter our Portfolio Award. Enter here Three Trees Portfolio Award | Maytree Press (bigcartel.com)