Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Fuck War - Claude Pelieu

A provocative work by French poet and collagist Claude Pelieu, who died in 2002.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Sinclair and the Great Dane

I am searching for André Gide and have been told he is staying with Sinclair Beiles, so I go to Sinclair’s house in Raleigh Street, Yeoville. It’s been years since I have been out this way, but even so, after I knock on the door, Sinclair answers quite friendly and says, “Gide doesn’t live here anymore. I think he’s staying at a flophouse – he went loony, you know.”

Then we talk about TS Eliot. Sinclair says: “Bob Kaufman was the only beat poet to really admire the work of Eliot. He was particularly enthusiastic about Murder in the Cathedral. The others hated Eliot because of his conservatism. It was a terrible, misguided narrow-mindedness.”

Sinclair is giving a series of presentations about the Beat Hotel in large lecture hall next to a synagogue, so I agree to meet him there later.

On the way to the hall, a neighbour stops me to complain that Sinclair’s dog has damaged his garden and demands that we drag the dog into the lecture hall, present it to Sinclair, and get the dog to confess its wrongdoing. The dog is a huge, intimidating Great Dane but is nevertheless nervous ands trembling, knowing it is in trouble.

So we drag the terrified, whimpering dog through the hall up to the lecture stand, where it knocks a glass of water all over Sinclair’s papers.

Published in New Coin, Volume 43, No 1 – June 2007. The issue also contains an interview with Beiles that I conducted in 1994.
To order copies of New Coin or to subscribe, Please write to Carol Leff ( at the Institute for the Study of English in Africa for details.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Friday, 14 March 2008

Automatic Pilot

Automatic Pilot was the first English title by the French poet and collagist Claude Pelieu (1934-2002). Translated by Pelieu's companion Mary Beach, the book was published in 1964 in New York by Ed Sanders' Fuck You Press.

Automatic Pilot is an extremely rare title now, but you can still find other English translations of Pelieu's poetry and cut-ups - such as Whistling down the wire, Opal USA and With revolvers aimed...fingerbowls - on

Pelieu and Beach were legendary characters in the art and poetry undeground scene of the 1960s and 1970s, whether in New York, London or San Francisco.

An often-repeated story about Pelieu's antics concerns his drunkenly pissing in Norman Mailer's pocket at a party, and thereafter Mailer made a point of putting his hands in his pockets whenever he saw Pelieu approaching.

Friday, 07 March 2008

Tuesday, 04 March 2008

Publishers, review your support

A complaint frequently heard in South African literary circles is about the scarcity of book reviews in the newspapers. It's a complaint I often make too, but when you actually count the number of newspapers and magazines that carry book reviews, you discover that the majority of them do in fact carry such pages. The real problem relates more to the space allocated, the length of reviews, and the quality.... Read more here

Monday, 03 March 2008

Drawing 3

Obtaining funding for a publication

While digital printing has considerably reduced the cost of producing books, this does not mean that the costs are negligible. Depending on how much work publishers are prepared or able to undertake themselves, the costs can vary from hundreds to thousands of rands. Even if publishers are able to do typesetting, layout, design and proofreading, the printing of a book can still be a financial stumbling block.

There is also the risk – especially in an unpredictable and fickle reading market – that the book will not sell, and thus publishers will battle to recover the production costs, never mind make a profit.

It is for this reason that many independent publishers, who do not have the same ready access to capital as commercial publishers, strive to obtain funding for their publications. Not only does funding assist their being able to meet the financial requirements of producing a book, but it can also remove, or at least minimise, the risk of financial loss.

In fact, even large publishers these days are beginning to require funding, usually from the author, to publish certain books. This is not, however, to be confused with vanity publishing.

It goes without saying, however, that obtaining funding is not always an easy task. After all, no one is going to hand over a relatively huge sum of money to just anybody, and the number of funding bodies are usually limited, especially in South Africa. As a publisher, you will also be competing with other applicants and will have to strongly motivate why you should be a recipient.

In South Africa, the two main bodies that fund publications are the National Arts Council ( and the Arts & Culture Trust of the President

Funding bodies generally have criteria to be met, so check whether your project meets the criteria before applying. Funding bodies also usually issue grants once or twice a year, so be sure you submit your application before the deadline.

Application forms for funding can usually be mailed to you, collected from the fund’s offices, or downloaded from its website.

An application form will require information such as:

· Details of yourself, or the publishing body requiring the funding. Private individuals may be required to submit a personal CV
· Details of the project involved. It is best if the manuscript is ready for production; a book that has still to be written is not a solid possibility
· Details of previous projects completed and their success rates
· Details of previous funding obtained from the body or from other bodies
· Details of any previous applications for funding that were declined
· A detailed costing of the project. This will justify the amount of funding that you are applying for and prove that you have thought the production out carefully. It is also a reflection of your credibility and ability to complete the project. Most importantly, ensure that your costing is correct, taking additional costs, such as distribution and promotion, into account. You will not look too credible if you go back to the funder asking for more money because your calculations were incorrect
· About three quotes from printers and/or designers
· About three character references on your ability to carry out the project
· The social benefit of the project. In South Africa, this is becoming increasingly important, especially with the current emphasis on social investment and the need to develop a book reading culture

Depending on the nature of the publication involved, it may be possible to obtain sponsorship from a corporate’s social investment or marketing division. While corporates are more likely to sponsor a publication with a direct social benefit – such as a book on how to start up a small business and create jobs – one large corporate in South Africa has sponsored anthologies of short fiction.

In the case of corporate sponsorship, you will probably have to draw up your own proposal for funding and meet with the respective manager. The proposal should contain similar information to that stated above, but you will also need to show what benefit the corporate itself will derive from the project. After all, why should it spend, for example, R20 000 on your project, as opposed to placing an advert in a national newspaper?

If you go the corporate sponsorship route, it is also worthwhile to ensure your editorial independence is safeguarded – after all, the last thing you want is for your project to be effectively hijacked and turned into a purely marketing tool.

Should your application for funding or corporate sponsorship be successful, you may be disappointed to find that you have not received the full amount that you requested. This may result in your having to absorb some of the costs yourself or to seek additional funding from another body.

You will, of course, be required to sign a contract with the funding body, which will usually stipulate a deadline for the project to be completed. You will be required to acknowledge the funding assistance on the imprint page of your book (including the funding body’s logo, if required) and submit a small number of copies to its archives. Should the funding body’s conditions not be met, you will be in breach of contract and will be required to return the funds.

Sponsorship may also be obtained in the form of services such as free design, printing or the provision of paper. Again, this requires strong motivation, as the service providers will want to know what benefit they will derive from the project.

Also be aware that simply because you have received funding from a particular body once, it does not follow that you will automatically receive support from it again. And while your having been funded once does act as a reference, it does not mean that another funder will necessarily be generous towards you.

(Originally published as Dye Hard Press Newsletter 5)

Saturday, 01 March 2008