Following the launch of Spectral Visions Press: Tarot Collection, Tegan Stevenson, who is an integral part of the press team, including editor and contributer of the new edition, introduces the book in further depth. Tegan has recently graduated from the University of Sunderland with a BA Honours in English and Creative Writing.
When I was asked to work on this project my first thought was, “wow”.
My second thought was, “how?”
I’d proofread small pieces of work for friends and classmates before but compiling an entire anthology was definitely something that I had never done. I was up for the challenge.
Thankfully, like most great achievements, I had a partner on the project. Danielle Shaw was the first to join me and her efforts when it came to managing and editing were tireless. Her passion for the work was a real inspiration throughout every stage. As well as her involvement behind the scenes, Danielle took the time to write her poem ‘Demeter’s daughter’ for the fifth illustration in the series, ‘The Hierophant’. As we sat on the train on our way to university, it was always fascinating to hear about her research into the meaning of that particular tarot card.
Of course, the production of the book really began with Katie Loyd. As an illustrator and artist who had worked with Spectral Visions Press before (Spectral Visions: Grim Fairy Tales was published in 2015 and contains artwork by Loyd), her beautifully drawn images depicting the Major Arcana of the tarot was met with enthusiasm. The illustrations were inspiring and I was lucky enough to be offered the chance of pairing the images with authors whose work would be published alongside the art.
Poetry was the initial and ultimately the only option to accompany the images. The singular focus upon one discipline of writing was unique in the repertoire of Spectral Visions Press to date and the approach we took was quite focused. The interest from writers willing to contribute was flatteringly high but there was no open call for submissions, barring a small post on the Spectral Visions Facebook group in the beginning to generate interest, instead each author was contacted personally by myself and Danielle. We were thrilled with the eager reactions we received.
We’d like to take a moment to thank the writers, in particular those who are not students or staff members of Sunderland University because their efforts were admirable. The response to our emails were great and I know that Danielle was especially elated by the positive response from Elisabeth Hewer, a published poet from South West England who has long been admired by Danielle (Her book Wishing for Birds was published in 2015 by Platypus Press). Elisabeth’s poem ‘High Priestess’ is the third poem in the SVP Tarot Collection.
All of the submissions, from students, staff and published authors alike, were fantastic and I remember being blown away when one writer, Ieuan Ivison approached us with a villanelle that he’d written within a couple of days. His poem ‘The Hanged Man’ accompanies the twelfth illustration in the collection.
The project became a team effort once we had received a poetry submission for each illustration and every person who was a part of the project was incredibly focused and passionate during each stage which was remarkable considering that they were working on the book during their final months at university.
We were lucky to have our proofreading team and our in-project copyeditor as well as our typesetter and cover artist: Kate Edmonds, Penny Metcalfe, Laura Stock, Jack Gray and Sacha Margetson. For some of us we were using new skills which makes their efforts even more outstanding.
As for me, I began as a project manager. I gathered interest, submissions and a team, but my role didn’t end there. I worked as an editor with Danielle. I was a typesetter. I was a designer as I made the initial sketches which were taken by Sacha and transformed into a beautiful front and back cover for the book. Most of these stages involved skills in a way that I’d never used them before but I am so proud of the work that was done and I sincerely hope that I will have the chance to work this way again in the future. My poem ‘The Tower’ is the sixteenth piece of writing in the series.
The Spectral Visions Press: Tarot Collection is a beautiful anthology of art and poetry developed and put together by the students of the University of Sunderland.
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