Saturday, September 22, 2007

book in hands of bill

Dear All,

Just to say that Rachael gave me some copies of the book last night at the Newcastle launch of the Northern Writers' Centre, and it is looking mighty fine! Linda's cover photo is striking and strong and it feels pretty good to lift and sift through. Hurrah.

(There will however have to be a special award for those who can discover My Embarrassing Typo...)

Friday, July 06, 2007

proofs in, title decided

I spoke to Tony this morning, and I've just sent him the last of the proofs that I'd received or been involved with, so Arc will be moving into production now.

The title was resolved as A Balkan Exchange: Eight Poets from Bulgaria and Britain. This would seem the most practical compromise, so I hope everyone's happy(ish/esque) with that.

I think it's a wonderful book, and it sounds like Rachel's done a great job getting us launch readings, so I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone (and it!) in the autumn.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

name of the book, part 3

Most recent thoughts, as they came in:


Hello everyone...we are in a pickle, aren't we?

I'm not very keen on any of the suggestions – it feels like we're going round in ever-decreasing circles.

I've just had another look at the manuscript and wondered about another of Vassil's titles, made plural, - Strange Vistas. (with whatever subheading we go for) It seems to catch some of the oddity, and bulgarity, of this project.

Anyway, just another one for the pot...

Have we got a deadline for these ruminations?



I agree about the ever-decreasing circles - we seem to have reached the point where everything has an echo and sounds odd. I won't add to that by saying what Strange Vistas first made me think, because it's not important. This would seem to work and I could go with it.

However, there is the small matter of the publisher who may already be pretty committed to A Balkan Exchange. Apparently some of the tour publicity already uses that. Personally I certainly don't think that's much worse than anything else we've suggested. It seems to be the Neareast reference which took us away from that, so why don;t we make the subtitle very plain: something like

8 poets from Bulgaria and North East England or 8 Bulgarian and British Poets.

A Balkan Exchange does sound a bit 'European Union', I'll grant you, but also has conversation in it too.

Happy to go with pretty much anything other than Bulgarity by this point!



I like the idea of 8 poets... as a subtitle. As well as "Strange Vistas" as a title. Perhaps all of us should send our last choices, and then we can count...



Yes. Counting sometimes is better than thinking. At least at the end.
No, really - is it time to make a list and vote? Do we include all suggestions up to now?


Rachel Ogdon (Arts Council)

Hello all

Sorry to barge in on the debate - I was under the impression from Arc that the title had been decided upon as A Balkan Exchange. Obviously this is not the case. A Balkan Exchange is the title of the tour and an image of the book cover (with 'A Balkan Exchange' on it) may have already been used on some of the festivals' publicity material.

This isn't the end of the world if you decide to change the title, but just wanted to make you aware. Perhaps it's just a matter of getting the sub-title right?

It's a bit like 8 people all trying to name a child!



Yes, it seems that we are discussing something which is already half-decided.
Thats why I asked "What is the idea of the title?" I will repeat my questions:

- Is it because "A Balkan Exchange" will sell better?
- Or is it because it represents the contents of the book in a better way?
- Or it sounds better?

If we cannot change it, its not a problem at all. But its clear, I think, that is sounds as a Social European Project. And I think because of that it can function as a project title or subtitle (8 poets in A Balkan Exchange). It can be much more effective if it is informative and not as is stands now (because now A Balkan Exchange is semi-informative - its not clear what is says exactly).



I hope Tony will understand our concerns about this "Balkan exchange" title. Eventually, isn't it possible "A Balkan Exchange" to be the title just of the tour, not of the book? If we need it as a title in this project...

Otherwise, I vote for "Strange Vistas: 8 Bulgarian and British Poets"



Linda and I were meeting with Claire Malcolm today and discussed this -- she has to get in touch with Tony at Arc > about other matters, so promised to ask how much flexibility we still had about the title issue.

However, I think if we aim independently for a decision by this Friday, that will deal with our impression that we're disappearing down a sink.

To recap: most of us think changing the subtitle to '8 Bulgarian and British Poets' sorts out a lot of the confusion.

Some of us are drawn to 'Strange Vistas' (aren't we just!), and 'Stamps of Bulgaria' still seems to be in the frame, but we acknowledge that 'A Balkan Exchange' may have to stay.



If things are already advanced in the publishing house with "Balkan Exchange", then o.k. Maybe they have their reasons. Let us insist on the subtitle '8 Bulgarian and British Poets'.

Briefly, I agree with Bill.


Kristin (in response to Mark's email, above)

I like that. A Balkan Exchange is good enough for me.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

more thoughts on entitlement

And the responses...


Ah, Sofia-upon-Tyne... I have forgotten it.
But is it undestandable as a book title?



Bulgarity - what a great title ! My new first choice.



I sent Andy something I can't find quoting Oscar's 'Vulgarity is simply the conduct of others' and asking what does that make Bulgarity?

I quite like GB/BG (Kristin's suggestion) because it reminds me of CBGBs, the New York punk venue. But that may not be the correct criterion in this matter.

In response to Vassil's questions: I don't know why the title was changed. Perhaps it was to expand upon and therefore clarify the original. I think we probably need an evocative main title and an explanatory subtitle. Most of the titles we have are in the evocative category, so perhaps we should imagine them with some helpful subtitle appended.

To recap, here are the ones any enthusiasm has been expressed for:

Bulgar Blues
Homespun Alchemies
Stamps of Bulgaria
Gigantic Memories

Here are the ones we feel ambiguous about

A Balkan Exchange
Neareast Northeast

Here are the ones we've suggested but no-one has commented on

Twin (OR) Exchanging Monuments
Bridges and Pages

I suggest that we all think what we'd like to see, comment/suggest one last time, then go with the majority.

Friday, June 29, 2007

replies so far

Here's everybody's initial responses as they came in:


Oh dear – how difficult this is...

My favourites (which means not very) are

A Balkan Exchange
Homespun Alchemy

With Poetry from Bulgaria & Britain as the subheading?

I do think Neareast needs to go because Nadya and Georgi are so agin it.

If I have any other ideas I’ll be in touch.



How about Near East North East with the subtitle a Balkan Exchange?

Not keen on any of the new titles, to be honest. And happy to go with either original or current one.

How about Monuments or some variant, given Sofia and Newcastle both have them. Twin Monuments? Exchanging Monuments? Hmm, not convinced. Would still need a subtitle.



My preferences are :

1 Neareast
2 A Balkan Exchange
3 Bulgar Blues



Sorry, I have a pragmatic question. What is the idea of the title?I mean - why the publisher decided to change it?- Is it because "A Balkan Exchange: Near East - North East" will sell better?- Or is it because it represents the contents of the book in a better way?- Or it sounds better? I am asking this, because for me it is not clear in what direction I have to think about.

"my last skin, literature" is quite different from "A BalkanExchange". If we have to think about the title that represents the 8 of us -it is one thing. If we are going to stress on the "bulgarity" - it is a different approach. Or maybe we have to think about the common bridges...Which of these is better.

Before answering my questions, I will try to help by thinking out loud

1. Neareast -- it sounds OK. For some British we are Neareast. But for many Bulgarians you are Farwest :)

2. gigantic memories -- I like it, but is it representative?

3. British Bulgarity -- Just a thought, came out from nowhere



What about VBV's title or subtitle "Sofia-upon-Tyne"? Or something like "Bridge page" or "Bridges and pages: Sofia-upon-Tyne"...
"Neareast" still sounds problematic for me...



Hello dear everybody!

I rather like the geographic ideas like Near East North East: A Balkan Exchange. However we seem to have a problem with Near East. I personally don't have any but if the anthology is going to have a Bulgarian title as well, there will be a problem. What we call in Bulgaria Near East is the territory that is referred to in England as the Middle East.

How about GB/BG: A Balkan Exchange?


Dear all,

I am a bit late in the discussion because I broke my ankle in a writers' football game in Finland and I am slow in getting to the computer:)

I like "Stamps from Bulgaria".
"Balkan exchange" sounds like EU projects slang.
"Neareast" suggests another geography - Israel,Lebanon, etc. (at least for us).

Thursday, June 28, 2007

titular debate

Dear All,

Bearing in mind that a few people have expressed discomfort with the title, I've been through the book looking for phrases that might work, and have picked out the following:

homespun alchemy
a hard forgetting
you speak our tongue?
bulgar blues
my last skin, literature
stamps of bulgaria
gigantic memories

These are just to get some debate going, so if you can suggest something else, please do. Or if you think the present title should stand, please say. I also wondered about 'Language is Ecstasy'?

For the record, the original title was

neareast: Bulgarian and British Poets

The current one is

A Balkan Exchange: Near East - North East

All best,


Friday, March 23, 2007

News on the new anthology

The anthology this blog has been discussing, rehearsing and editing will appear soon from Arc Publications. It will be called neareast. More details soon.

(If anyone has a copy of the cover photo they could post here or send to me to post, that would be great.)