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All Quiet on the Memoir Front?

  Yes and no. Certainly I have been quiet about it, here, for a little while! Interrupted by life My cover designer / book designer (same person) is currently on a road trip around Australia with her family – which is exciting, as we hope to meet up in person for the first time when they get to these parts, and for her to meet the cover artist too (who happens to be a neighbour of mine).   This trip was already planned when she agreed to help me, so she is working around it. Before it began, she brought my memoir to a good place to be able to pause, and will be resuming when she arrives back home. We are still looking at a launch later this year. Meanwhile, as you may recall, we have been making plans to launch, simultaneously, a new edition of Blood from Stone, the poetry anthology which resulted from the Pentridge Prison workshops in the eighties, which are the subject of the memoir. I’ve asked a noted criminologist with knowledge of that prison to write a new Foreword. He too is awa
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The Universe Wants This Memoir To Happen!

Well OK, I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek – but still, I’m amazed at how, suddenly, everyone I need to help me make it happen is turning up out of the woodwork, so to speak. The people behind Pentridge Voices have been supportive from the moment they found out about this memoir through one of my posts on Instagram. One of them invited me to a book launch they were having. I explained that I live much too far away from Melbourne these days; then asked, out of curiosity, if this was a PV publication. She said no, self-published by the author, but she was the cover designer. ‘Aha!’ I said. ‘I need a cover designer.’ We started a conversation, tossed around ideas…. I had morning tea with a friend-and-neighbour. In telling her what I’d been up to lately, I said I’d found a cover designer for the memoir, and was still trying to decide on the artwork. Then it dawned on me. ‘You’re an artist!’ Long story short, she was thrilled to be hired for this commission, and has already delivered the resu

So whatever’s happening with that memoir, then?

Don’t worry, I’m impatient to get it out there into the world. But I also want it as good as I can get it.  So this is what's been happening: Editing I’ve expanded it a bit, including some things I didn’t at first. It’s a bit of a hybrid, both social history and personal story, so it’s tricky getting the right balance between the two, while taking care of readers’ expectations so they know from the beginning it will be both. I think I was a little too cautious at first. Now it’s having a really final proofread and edit … hoping there won’t turn out to be another ‘really truly final’ one and so on. But no, I think this is it. I put it aside for a few weeks and didn’t look at it, trying not to even think about it, so as to come back with a fresh eye. It was a good decision; I’m picking up stuff now that I might not have seen without the break. Cover I think I’ve found my cover designer! Which is very exciting. It’s an area in which I have no expertise, so I needed someone. She’s n

The Perils of Publishing

(Decisions, decisions …) ‘Why did you decide that you should self-publish the works in question?’ asked a friend — meaning the Pentridge memoir and related volumes I have planned.   ‘Did you send out manuscripts and get rejections?’ [No.] ‘Or was it more to do with not wanting to be edited by others? Or something else?’ Another expressed the opinion that self-publishing is, in practical terms, no more useful than vanity publishing these days and that my memoir (which she has read) ‘deserves better7’. Well, it’s like this – One reason I decided to self-publish the Pentridge memoir and the spin-off chapbook is that I realised quite belatedly that I had prepared them that way — because I’m used to doing that. In recent years I’ve mostly self-published. Well, sort of.   I had a great collaboration with a small publishing and design firm in America, run by online friends with whom I first connected through poetry. I was employed to do some editing work for them, and when I wanted to create

My publication plans for 2023.

  Photo © David A Nissen 2022. 2022 was largely a year of new writing. 2023 will be largely devoted to new publishing. (And, hopefully, losing some of the weight I've put on in being glued to my desk for the best part of a year.) It turns out I'll be releasing three books in 2023! There's not only  Breaking Into Pentridge , the memoir of my time running prison poetry workshops. There are two other associated volumes.  Letters to a Dead Man is a poetry chapbook, a spin-off from the memoir. It starts at the end and finishes at the beginning, and a lot is left unexplained. In spite of all this, when I've tried the manuscript on people who don't know the back story, I'm pleased they have understood it well. I want it to be able to stand alone, and clearly it can. (However, it would be ideal to read the memoir first.) Also I'm proposing to re-issue Blood from Stone, the 1982 anthology of poetry which arose from the prison workshops. It was published under my Ab

Breaking Into Pentridge – my memoir about poetry workshops in prison

(workshops conducted on behalf of what was then the Melbourne Branch of the Poets Union of Australia). Photo © David A Nissen 2022 It's taken me 40 years to feel able to write about a brief but life-changing experience: running poetry workshops in Pentridge Prison, Melbourne, which no longer exists as a prison – having closed in 1997 and gradually being repurposed – but which, during its long life, was always notorious. Once I finally began to write this story, it poured out! It took me three months to get down the first draft, and it’s been three more of editing, tweaking, and seeking opinions from a small, trusted group of other writers, including some who were very much involved in those workshops too. It involved mentally re-living an experience which, at the time, was both traumatic and transformative.   This process has been painful but also cathartic. And sometimes the memories were warming. Those were times not only of grimness and tragedy, but also of much fun and affectio

Poetry on the Moon.

 How exciting! Two of my poems are going into the Lunar Codex, i.e. will be in a time capsule to be sent to the moon, on the initiative of my online friend and sometime mentor, Sam Peralta. (The person who taught me, among other things, not to be afraid of attempting sonnets – and then, the variety of sonnets one may attempt.) Further details of this project at the link below. The #LunarCodex inducts into the Polaris time capsule the authors of dVerse Poets Pub 's CHIAROSCURO anthology, edited by Björn Rudberg and Mary Grace Guevara Polaris is targeted for the 2023 SpaceX / Astrobotic Griffin lander / NASA VIPER rover mission, headed for the Lunar South Pole. * * Now indexed in * * My poems in the book are: At Mariner's Café We like to call in here on the way home from Kingscliff or even Tweed Heads (a detour) to catch up with our friend, the new manager – and the coffee’s good. So is the view of the river. In late afternoon sun, we sit bac