These are the covers for the next two Calder Wood Press titles, due in November. Judith Stewart’s poetry is sharp, witty and unsentimental. Her poem The Rantin’ Dog the Daddie O’t is a brilliant description of Robert Burns’ affair with Mrs McLehose’s maid Jenny Clows, conducted during his passionately platonic relationship with his ‘Clarinda’. Downstairs was satisfied, as well as Upstairs, and Jenny bore him a child, for which he paid her five shillings. She ranges from classical subjects to the personal.
This is the second chapbook by Mercedes Clarasó that I’ve published. Her first one, A Blessing of Unicorns, was devoted entirely to that wondrous beast, and it sold out very quickly. Her new collection, Setting Out, contains poems on a variety of subjects. Her sight problems are dealt with in an honest way, and without a trace of self-pity. She is eloquent, moving, and highly skilled. When I was thinking about a cover I remembered a tonal painting that my wife Jane did a couple of years ago. Since both covers will be printed in black and white, I thought it would work.
Both Judith and Mercedes are on the shortlist for the Tyne & Esk Writer of the Year competition, the winners of which will be announced on Monday night. So I’m holding back sending them to the printers until I know the results.