On the weekend I flew to Adelaide to celebrate 10 years of Ginninderra Press in Port Adelaide. The press has grown from humble beginnings in a spare bedroom in Canberra into a successful publishing house.
Wild, an anthology of poetry was created to celebrate the milestone and it was launched on Saturday afternoon. The diverse collection of poems features works by 159 poets from all around Australia. Many were already Ginninderra Press authors and some had never written poetry before. As well as the launch of Wild, there were also two fascinating panel discussions, What Good is Poetry? and Telling the Truth: How Are Fiction and Non-Fiction Alike and How Do They Differ? If all the writing goodness wasn't enough, there were also drinks, lunch and afternoon tea served.
Ginninderra Press is an independent Australian publisher. We all have a story to be told and beautiful words locked within us, waiting to be heard. GP publishes authors too small to be taken on by the major publishing houses. They publish fiction, non-fiction, short stories, poetry and chap books.
In its 22 year history Ginninderra Press has published well over 950 Australian authors and sold in excess of 180,000 books. At the helm is publisher and owner Stephen Matthews. Or Mr GP as Brenda Eldridge his partner, muse and editor of the chapbook series calls him.
I had the good fortune to meet Stephen in 1996 when we were both living in Canberra. Stephen had just started Ginninderra Press and was teaching an evening class called Getting Published which I attended. I had always been a writer and my dream was to be a published author. Little did I know doing Stephen's course was going to be life changing.
At the end of the course, Stephen gave all of his students an opportunity to share their work with him and have it assessed for suitability for publication. Not everyone gave him their work but I gave him some of my poems. Of course I did! Getting someone in the industry to assess my work? Priceless. As I learnt in the course, the publishing industry is notoriously difficult to get into and you never get feedback about your work from publishers unless they want to publish it.
And Stephen's response to my work? He wanted to publish. my. poems. In. a. book. My poems in an honest to God, hold in your hands and turn the pages book! It was a dream come true.
During the closing speech at the celebrations on Saturday afternoon, Stephen presented me with a thermal bound copy of my book of poetry published all those years ago. The original edition had a laminated cover and was stapled together. It's long been out of print. I have no words to describe my feelings of joy and gratitude. It was an incredible surprise and I got all teary at his kindness and generosity. Especially as we hadn't been in contact for almost twenty years. And then he told me the book was now back in print and available through Ginninderra Press, Book Depository and Amazon. Oh my.
I was humbled at dinner on Saturday night when Stephen told me I had a gift for writing poetry that was incredibly rare in someone as young as I was when he first published me. He said I had an accessible way of expressing my emotions without become filled with excruciating angst. I'm paraphrasing here. I was too awed at the time to remember the exact words.
I am lucky to be part of the GP family. I feel so grateful to Stephen for taking a chance on the young poet I was and publishing Defenestration, my collection of poetry. I am forever in his debt.
If you're interested in reading what Stephen saw in me all those years ago, you can buy the book over at Ginninderra Press. And if you've got a manuscript lurking in the bottom drawer, send it in to GP. You never know where it may lead!