Introducing “The Cult of the Spiny ‘Hog” – Join Today – Don’t Delay etc.

We talked about the fact that you can pre-order the Trade Edition of Arfur yesterday, and hinted that there will also be a more ‘Deluxe’ edition available.

So I’m pleased as an extremely punchy Punch to be able to tell you about our very own private members club, ‘The Cult of the Spiny ‘Hog,’ which a maximum of 100 poets will be able to join from today.

To the left of me you will hopefully be able to see our mock-up of the Limited Edition ‘Deluxe’ edition of Arfur that Cult members will receive. This again has a cover based on a Kanoe West painting, and when we get to the final printed version, it will be super deluxe in terms of papers and finish. It will also be Limited to 100 Copies, each of which will be hand numbered and stamped and definitely not available in the shops.

But the Cult is about a lot more than a different cover on a book, as what we really want is to find ourselves 100 poets who will join in with everything we do and then go out there and help us spread the word.

It is about finding a group of poets who are both Readers and Writers, and so that is how we have set the ‘Cult’ up. We want people to be readers of our magazines and books and to take part in the competitions and challenges and then tell people about them, good or ill.

A lot to ask, perhaps, and worryingly expensive, so part of it is that we want to make it as cheap and as much fun as we can for this core number of people.

We’ll give more details about the individual parts as the day(s) roll on, but from today we will be opening up so that 100 people can join our Cult of the Spiny ‘Hog’ and come February they will receive:

1. A Deluxe Cult Edition of Arfur.

To celebrate our first issue we are planning two variations of the magazine:

The Trade edition is the ‘Normal One’ you will buy in shops and as a pre-order, and will boast a cover based on a painting, ‘The Blue Hole’ the artist Kanoe West has done specifically for the magazine.

The “Deluxe Cult Edition” will feature a different cover based on a second West painting, ‘Migration’ and produced using different papers and finish.

The photo at the top of the page is of a mock-up of the Deluxe magazine. This edition will be limited to 100 copies and will be hand-numbered, stamped and only available to Cult members. No reprints or Ali-style comebacks.

2. The ‘Road To Clevedon Pier’ Anthology.

This will be the first book we publish, based on the entries to our Anthology competition and we definitely want to put a copy in the hands of our cult members.

This too will be a Cult Edition and limited to 100 numbered copies.

 

3. Our ‘Fauxlaroid’ Artcards

As with the pre-orders of the standard edition, our cult members will receive copies of our one-off ‘fauxlaroid’ artcards.

The ones in the photo are mock-ups, so may or may not be included in the final designs, but we have always loved finding old photos in second-hand books, and so we wanted to place a few of our own at random in each copy of Arfur.

Going forward we’ll keep doing this, but the Fauxlaroids will contain poems that come from challenges set for members of the Cult. More on that another day though.

4. Badges

Silly perhaps, but as we keep on saying, every revolution needs a badge, and we have designed a special ‘Founder Member’ Cult of the Spiny ‘Hog Badge, that will only be available to cult members who join us for the first issue of Arfur. They will also receive the ‘standard’ Arfur badge, which I completely forgot to order and hence isn’t pictured here (oops.)

 

5. Anthology Competition

It is really important to us that our cult members are writers of poetry, and so each will receive a free entry into an anthology competition of their choice. This and the collection competition are a big part of the ‘Cult’ as we want people who are writers as well as readers, and the competitions are only the first part of this.

 

6. Collection Competition:

As with the anthology competition, we would love all of our cult members to enter one of our collection competitions, and so they will receive a free entry for one of their choice. Our current Collection Competition costs the same to enter as it does to join the Cult, so if you were planning to enter it – this is the best way (as basically the rest is coming free!)

7. Random Gifts For Cult Members

For the first issue, Kanoe West has donated one of his paintings – the one that is appearing on the cover of the cult edition of Arfur – and so we are planning to choose one of our members at random and send it to them. (It is just over A4, acrylic on canvas, so don’t worry that it will turn-up enormous…)

Similarly, we plan to randomly send all of the review copies of books, CDs and whatever else we review to cult members as gifts too.

We want to review a good number of books and pamphlets each issue once we get going and so it will be nice to spread these around our friends and see what they think of them.

The photo shows the current review pile, all of which will be sent to Cult members once the reviews are published. There will be more though, of that I’m sure.

8. Writing Challenges

I mentioned earlier in this post that we will be setting writing challenges to Cult members. The members themselves will get to choose the winners and things like which poems appear on future ‘Fauxlaroids’, but there will be other benefits along those lines too.

And that is about it.

Obviously, this is only a beginning and as I said we’ll put more detail up over the coming days about each of these things, but if you do want to join our lovely Cult of Poets, you can now do so HERE 

And whether you do or you don’t we would really appreciate it if you can help us spread the word. We realise we are starting from nowhere fast, and that we are scrabbling around in the shadows at the moment, so any chink of light you can share would be much appreciated.

Countdown to Arfur – Pre-Order News – Part One

I very much doubt it is a surprise, as I’m sure if you are reading this you are well aware of how it works with the smallest of small presses, but just in case I’ll say it anyway – if you want to support us wee publishers, it is much better to buy direct than through, for instance, the Amazons of this world, as however cool and handy they are, they take a whopping great chunk of the money you are paying.

Not that I begrudge them – although we want to make Arfur and our books available everywhere, so if you want to get them through a bookseller, I’d suggest an Indie everytime – but I won’t let that stop me trying to bribe sway you in this direction first.

We have few natural advantages, but I’ll shake my tailfeathers just a quickly as the next chap.

So tomorrow (Friday the 15th December) sees us opening the door for pre-ordering of the Trade Edition of Arfur. Yay!

This is the book you can see with the Kanoe West cover and it is the one you will be able to buy from Amazon, Waterstones and just about any bookshop (though I won’t kid you that they won’t have to order it in for you – the number of shops stocking unknown poetry magazines is teensy & wee.)

 

So why would you buy it from us?

Well, I’m glad you asked as there will be a couple of advantages:

  1. You will get the magazine sooner. I know I’m not meant to say that, but you will as I’ll be doing the posting, so there.
  2. You will get our lovely Fauxlaroids tucked into the pages of the magazine to stun and surprise you as they fall out and flutter around your feet.
  3. You will get a lovely Hedgehog Press Badge (not actually the one in the photo as I forgot to order the ones I’m talking about here, but it will be cool anyway.)
  4. It will be delivered to your door for a few quid cheaper than anybody else will charge for it as we would rather you saved some money than gave it to Amazon.
    And every little helps…

You will be able to pre-order Arfur from this web site tomorrow, hope to see you back here.

 

 

Countdown to Arfur – We Have Covers

We mentioned a little while ago that cult artist, Kanoe West, had agreed to paint a picture for us that we could use for the cover of Arfur.

Top chap that he is, when it came time for it to be delivered, he arrived with a choice of two for us.

Now, being a little on the greedy side of the tracks we somehow managed to talk him into letting us use both of the paintings for the cover of the magazine. Not one for the front and one for the back as I think he assumed, but instead we had decided to have two editions of the magazine to celebrate it’s launch, the Trade Edition which is the one that will be available all over the place, and then a second one that is for a Limited Edition, Deluxe edition of the magazine.

More on that later, but I’m pleased to unveil the painting and the Trade Edition of ‘A Restricted View From Under the Hedge’ here, for the very first time. In fact this is the first time that Kanoe has ever had one of his paintings appear on the interweb at all, as it really isn’t his thing.

Well, apart from maybe if you noticed the picture earlier on one of our Fauxlaroids (ahem.)

Thanks to Kanoe, the man is a hero.

p.s. The ‘magazine’ in the photo is a mock-up – there is still plenty of room for your poetry and we still want submissions…

Countdown To Arfur – We Have Fauxlaroids

OK, I may be getting a little over-excited about all of this, this evening, but after what feels like far-too-long we are opening up to Pre-orders for Issue Uno of ‘A Restricted View From Under the Hedge’, and in true ‘Hog style, I finally got around to having a few happy snaps done today.

No fancy studio for us, nope. Just a rug and a badly lit living room but there we are, Rome wasn’t baked in a day, or something.

Anyway, there will probably be more updates tonight, but I have always loved finding old photographs in second-hand books, it is a real treat, and so we thought we would go along the same route and have a few ‘fauxlaroids’ in Arfur for people to find (although obviously only if you order from us as I can’t imagine Amazon and the rest taking to the idea.)

The photo shows some examples, I’m not actually sure what the final ones will look like, but there may be the odd note on them by the time they reach you. We’ll see.

Arfur – Now With Added Moose

I have to say that one of the things I was definitely definite about when it came to us making plans for Arfur, was that we should have some light relief at the end of the magazine (or at the start, if like me, you read all things from the back forwards.)

I’ve already talked about the sadist A.P Middleton who will be creating us a vicious crossword, but the one I was most excited about was that the rather wonderful Moose Allain is joining in too.

How cool is that?

Needless to say, we can’t wait to see what Moose does with that currently blank page, but for now I hope nobody will mind my sharing a little something that was prepared earlier.

Oh and if you are looking for any Christmas pressies, the Official Web Site is a trove of all things treasurefilled.

Top Excitement Today

Today is all a little bit exciting and if I am totally honest, which I try to be with everything apart from calorie-counting, I’m already pacing the laminate flooring and wishing that we had a nice warm carpet, hoping that the postie will deliver the post before he goes to the pub today.

That normally gets a little messy.

Why am I bothered?

It isn’t for the usual ‘Brownies filled with misery,’ no, it is because our lovely printer is sending me three books.

Not that unusual, but this time they are a little bit special as they are copies of both ‘A Restricted View From Under the Hedge’ and our little anthology, ‘The Road To Clevedon Pier.’

Now I know what you are thinking, we’re still looking for submissions and competition entries for those, so what gives?

And you would be right to be confused if the inside of the books I’m hoping the Postie hasn’t dumped in the sea again, will be totally empty. Well, maybe a little bit of sample text, but otherwise poetry-less.

So what is the point of that?

I’m pleased you are still reading, but the point is that when we open up for subscriptions/pre-sales on the 15th of December (one for your diary there, I think) we thought it would be rather handy to be able to show you what the magazine and book will look like, especially as we have the magazine with a painting by Kanoe West on the cover now after spreading the original pretty picture around the interweb for the last month.

But why three books?

Ah, that is because Arfur will be available in two different covers, but more about that on the 15th.

Now where is my pedometer…

 

Shaking Our Tail Feathers – Pre-orders Open 15th December

I have to say, all this magazine publishing stuff is starting to feel a little serious.

Not only have we been working through the submissions, and I can’t stop smiling at that, but we are also going to open the floodgates on the 15th of December so that people can pre-order a copy of Arfur #1.

Oh I know, it will be madness, like the old days when people got excited about Black Friday and stormed the doors of Asda in the hope of a sniff of a 32″ Plasma, but we’ll have Police ‘hoolivans’ and teargas on hand, so I’m sure we’ll get through it as best we can.

All I would ask is that when the inevitable scalpers try and snap-up all of the copies and put them on eBay for ridiculous prices, you boycott them, as it really isn’t fair on anybody. And anyway, I’m sure there will be plenty to go around.

Far, far too many.

 

 

Reviews, We Have a Few, But Then Again..

I have to say that I am starting to feel a little bit better about the review ‘portion’ of young Arfur, as we have started to get a few books turning-up over the last few days.

In fact today’s were particularly fine as both have come across the Sea (Sea, Sea) from the rather cool Water Row Books, and are poetry collections from Lee Ranaldo, that we will be reviewing/talking with Lee about in one of our soonish issues.

One of the books is ‘ Against Refusing’, which was only ever released as a handmade edition of 100 signed and numbered copies, and it quite a beautiful thing even before you get to Lee’s poetry, which itself is pretty darn special.

If you don’t know Lee’s work, you may have heard his latest solo album, ‘Electric Trim’ which is many kinds of wonderfilled, and otherwise you will probably have heard him as part of Sonic Youth, a popular beat combo of the olden days.

As for the books – our plan is that all of the review copies we review will be randomly given to subscribers, or perhaps we should have a draw for a big box of them after each issue launches, we haven’t decided yet.

 

 

 

Slackers Do as Slackers Are…

I realise that we must look pretty slack and lo-fi as a shiny new publisher of poetry goes, a month or so in and so far not a lot has happened, apart from the odd ‘evolution’ where we have realised that maybe we took on too much up front or hadn’t thought things through too well.

I would love to say that like the legs of a duck shaped iceberg lettuce, all the real action is going on below the water line, but even that isn’t really true as other than a flurry of emails here and there I can’t honestly say that we have exactly stretched ourselves.

However, stupendous organisation (ahem) should never be taken for a lesser spotted slothe, and the truth of the matter is that we have been slowly building up to the publication of our first issue of ‘Arfur’ and that I’m really pleased to say that the wee chap is now taking on a more appreciable shape.

Of course, any fool can publish a magazine these days – I am the living embodiment of such things – you point, you click and voila! But getting people to want it, to spend their hard earned is a different matter and so we have been conscious all along that we want Arfur to be something slightly different. Something readers of poetry, and not just poets hoping for publication, might want.

From the start it was always going to have a good chunk, a properly readable selection of poetry, and I am pleased to say that now that we have started working through the submissions (and keep them coming – you still have time) we already know that it is going to be a ‘good ‘un’.

We had always planned to just not publish the magazine if the poetry wasn’t right – anything else we can live with – but in these days of ‘red lines’ that was ours. So getting past that was quite the milestone for us.

From there though we wanted to go a bit further with the magazine and in truth it is likely to end-up split into three sections:

1. The Poems:

40 seems the perfect number to me for a poetry magazine, and apart from a couple more if we really can’t choose, that is the minimum Arfur will contain. We genuinely meant it when we said that we are encouraging poetry from ‘every dusty corner of the broadest of churches’ and I’m pleased to say that, that is what we have been getting.

2. The People:

This section is where we wanted to talk to people involved in poetry at different levels and angles, and so I’m really pleased to say that we have a number of poets, magazine editors, book publishers, independent shopkeepers, cover designers and so on, who we have or will be talking to and generally featuring. They won’t all appear in every issue, clearly, but I like the idea that even when you have enjoyed the poetry, there is some real ‘meat’ for you to go back to time and again.

I’m also – have always been – fascinated by the lyrics songwriters write and how their approach compares or crosses over with the way that poets work, and so one of the features we will have in each issue (assuming we manage to arrange them) is an interview with a songwriter. Not particularly about poetry, but about their own art – and we, you, can then draw your own conclusions.

3. The Reviews:

I’ve said before that I have always felt that given the nature of the poetry scene and how it is ignored by the wider book industry and media, all poetry magazines have an obligation to review contemporary poetry collections. Selling poetry is hard already and without sounding sappy we really are in it together. How many collections we’ll review, I don’t know, but we’ll try our best and see where it leads us.

4. Deus Ex Machina:

Yes, I know I said three sections, but at least I know you are still awake after all this. Section four is a little different as I’ve always felt that every newspaper or magazine should have something light at the end, and so to finish each issue wanted to offer a little light relief.

I’m delighted to say that serial sadist, A.P. Middleton is to create us a prize-winning crossword that he guarantees nobody will be able to finish and we have a couple of other things up our sleeves, but more anon on those.

We will see..

A Tribe Called Hedge?

We have been thinking a lot about just how it is that you make a poetry magazine viable. That probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

Obviously a great way is for somebody – an outside force – to pay for everything and leave you alone to do whatever you like. I like that option, but sadly it seems a little unlikely for us as we’re horribly old fashioned and cynical and like to walk on our own legs and anyway, not very good at asking for help at the best of times. If this all is to crash and burn I’d rather it was only our Zeppelin on the line, as it were.

From there the next on the list is to sell subscriptions, so that people stump up for whatever it is you are selling and then you deliver. Hopefully they will like it enough to renew their subscription however long it was for.

Being as we are starting the press with the proceeds from flogging a second-hand guitar, this is where we are going to go. Hobson had a choice too, apparently.

That is all pretty mundane, I’m sure you would agree, but I guess the thing that is taking the brainspace is more, how do you keep it going?

How do you make sure that people keep on subscribing, or as in our case where we will be going for pre-orders for each individual issue rather than an annual subscription, how do we make sure that the reader wants the next issue?

I mean, the obvious way is to make sure that every issue is fabulous and that the reader can’t wait to read some more, and if that doesn’t work, maybe we could have a have a cliffhanger at the end that keeps people coming back.
It is something to think of.
That could work.

Or perhaps, we could put half of a poem in one quarter and the rest the next.
OK, not so good.

I guess for me the answer is to just make it something so cool or interesting that people can’t help but want another dose of Vitamin Arfur.

So basically, we have to try and create a sense of community or addiction, who knows.

I guess where I’m coming to is that any poetry magazine, from Poetry Review down has to create its own tribe, a group of readers that see themselves as part of it. Family, even, and that in truth, it isn’t something you can plan for as if you do it will just be artificial, a flavour of the month and as transient as some kind of advert.

So we need to find a way to create a Tribe Called Hedge if we are going to get past the first issue or two, the only slight tricky thing is to work out just how we do that, isn’t it? I guess you can only be yourself and see what happens next.