Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Harder Path


Peter Fallon is the publisher of Gallery Press, which specializes in Irish poetry. Here he discusses his process with new manuscripts:
I read carefully, keenly, slowly. I re-read. I think carefully, keenly... I make marks on a typescript. What you’d probably call a printout now. Insert a comma? Cut a line? A squiggle here to question the rhythm, syntax or sense of a passage. A kind of shorthand the authors seem to learn to read, bless them. No, no long letters. I’m useless at that. But we meet, we sit with my hieroglyphs and I try to elaborate my response and ideas – in general and in detail. I know I often have to play the devil’s advocate—and it’s important to remember, and sometimes to remind, that all of my suggestions, questions, quibbles exist within the realm of commitment to the work and enthusiasm for its possibilities, because it can be intense and it could appear like an assault on the work. It’s uncanny, though, how often I’ll point to a word or a half line and the author will nod, “I know, I tried, I was hoping…” They take away my marked copy and return an updated version. This can go on through several stages.
He gets praise from Vona Groarke, one of his poets:
Over the past 21 years, I’ve learned to trust Peter’s editorial instincts: he doesn’t dive into opinion but neither does he mince words; he’s careful and he’s honest, and if he’s definite about something, I take his attention as a compliment to the work. Sloppy editors say “Yes” to everything; good editors take the harder path, and get stuck in. And if, when I was younger, I found this sometimes a challenge, I learnt over years to be hugely grateful for his editorial nous and his forthright and rigorous help. My books are better for his suggestions, I know that for sure.

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