Friday, January 01, 2016


(December 25, 2015) Antigone. Poem by Jack Ross. Design by Bronwyn Lloyd. Pania Singles 3. Auckland: Pania Press, 2015.

Every Christmas Bronwyn makes a special edition of one of Jack's poems or stories. This year she picked the poem "Antigone." If you're not familiar with Greek mythology, Antigone was the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta. The poor woman attempted to secure a respectable burial for her brother and the King punished her by entombing her alive.

The poem references the story obliquely by talking about a visit to a former colonial prison in Tasmania and his experience in one of the tiny cells. You can find it below. It's best to read across the columns - first the left one, then the right.

You can find further details about the project here, at Mosehouse Studio, and there are further bibliographical details at Works & Days.


Tomb, bridal-chamber, eternal prison in the caverned rock, whither go to find mine own?
– R. C. Jebb

When I woke up in
the melancholy city
everything was the colour of rain        all of the garish
of the previous evening
obscured by
the pitter-patter
of dread                                          The books I was reading
dissolved into pulp
those volumes of
lapidary thoughts
intangible as fog
as that happiness                              oh so elusive
what’s new
you say
Once in Tasmania
at an old colonial prison
I walked into one of the cells             there was no-one around
so I closed the door
just to feel what it was like
I lasted two seconds
people go mad
they say                                          Imagine a room
a white room
no doors
no chairs
too narrow
to sit down                                      too low
to stand
my marriage bed

& here are some illustrations of the finished product:

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Longest Drink in Town

Cover image: Bronwyn Lloyd / Cover design: Ellen Portch & Brett Cross

We're excited to announce the publication of our first new book for 2015: Tracey Slaughter's novella The Longest Drink in Town. Ever since I first encountered her work and - shortly afterwards - Tracey herself, when she came to teach for us at Massey, I've considered her one of our very finest writers. I remember well driving out to Thames with my friend and colleague Jenny Lawn for the launch of Tracey's first book of stories and poems, Her Body Rises, published by Random House.

Tracey Slaughter, Her Body Rises (2005)

Bronwyn shares my love of Tracey's work, so a while ago now we began to moot the exciting plan of putting out one of her stories ourselves, as a little chapbook - and a taster, now, for the more substantial collection Deleted Scenes for Lovers due out from Victoria University Press in 2016.

Photograph: Bronwyn Lloyd (12/1/15)

So, to make a long story short - this was no exception to our usual practice of going through a long series of different layouts and other possible design solutions - earlier this year we set out to find a cover image. First of all we checked out Thames. No dice - the photographs insisted on coming out too picturesque (though Bronwyn did get some nice ones in the picnic area down by the waterfront). Then we drove on to Paeroa.

Photograph: Bronwyn Lloyd (12/1/15)

Just along from a lovely little cafe down a side-street, we found these two gnomic arrows. I'm not sure what their author intended them to mean, but they seemed perfect for our purposes: genuine graffiti, but with a kind of ragged edginess to them - a bit like Tracey's story, in fact.

Rather than tell you a lot more about it, I'd prefer just to quote from the blurb:

Like William Faulkner’s tour-de-force As I Lay Dying, Tracey Slaughter’s hard-hitting novella The Longest Drink in Town traces the history of a single traumatic event against the backdrop of small town life. Her characters seethe with anger and lust – with a strange, wistful tenderness persisting within them, however hard they work to conceal it. This is a major work by one of our most accomplished short story writers. Follow the arrow and open the page.

Tracey Slaughter’s first collection of poems and short stories, her body rises, was published by Random House in 2005. Her work has been widely published and anthologized, and received numerous awards, including the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award (twice). She lectures in Creative Writing at Waikato University.

In his judge’s report for the 2014 UK Bridport Prize, novelist Andrew Miller commended her mastery of “the difficult art of selecting the telling moment, the detail that speaks,” praising her for her “determination to find what is luminous in what is plain.”

The cover design, including the brilliant graffiti font, was done for us by our good friends Ellen Portch and Brett Cross of Titus Books.

If you'd like a copy, you can order one from us here on the website. Alternatively, if any of you happen to be In Palmerston North on the evening of Friday 17th April, please feel free to come along to our "Off the Page" writers event at 6.30 pm at the Palmerston North City Library.

I'll be chairing a panel on short-stories, with renowned writers Owen Marshall, Jaspreet Singh, and - Tracey Slaughter. Books by all three of the panelists will be on sale, including The Longest Drink in Town. It'd be great to see you there.

The Longest Drink in Town is available in an initial print-run of 100 copies.

Reviews & Comments:

  1. Graham Beattie, "Double Booklaunch - Tracey Slaughter / Jack Ross - Monday 25th May at 6.30 pm." Beattie's Book Blog (May 18, 2015):
    Jack Ross advises:

    I'm pleased to report that there's going to be a double booklaunch for Tracey Slaughter's latest, the novella The Longest Drink in Town, published by Pania Press, together with my latest, the poetry collection A Clearer View of the Hinterland, published by HeadworX of Wellington.

    Here are the details of the event:

    Joint Launch of

    Cover image: Bronwyn Lloyd / Cover design: Ellen Portch & Brett Cross

    The Longest Drink in Town
    By Tracey Slaughter
    (Auckland: Pania Press, 2015)


    Cover image: Graham Fletcher / Cover design: Ellen Portch & Brett Cross

    A Clearer View of the Hinterland:
    Poems & Sequences 1981-2014
    By Jack Ross
    (Wellington: HeadworX, 2014)

    Monday 25th May at 6.30 pm

    At the Art Fusion Gallery
    Waikato University
    003 Student Centre (Next to the hairstylists)
    Gate 5, Hillcrest Road, Hamilton

    The event is co-organised by Mayhem literary journal. You can find further details here.

    Jack Ross

    See you there!

  2. "Cambridge-based international author to launch book in Hamilton." Waikato Times (May 19, 2015):

    It's been a bumper few months for writer and lecturer Dr Tracey Slaughter.

    The international award winning writer moved from Thames to Cambridge at the start of the year to be close to the University of Waikato where she lectures in creative writing.

    Next Monday Dr Slaughter will launch a novella The Longest Drink in Town and later in the year Victoria University Press will publish her collection of short stories.

    Slaughter won the United Kingdom's's Bridport short story writing prize late last year, and was a finalist in the Manchester Poetry Prize.

    The publisher, Pania Press, describes it as a "hard-hitting novella tracing the history of a single traumatic event against the backdrop of small town life." It follows the points of view of a group of children going through the fallout of divorce, with the drama coming to a crisis on a single afternoon on a small town roadside.

    At the same event, writer and publisher Jack Ross will also launch his new collection of poetry, A Clearer View of the Hinterland.

    Slaughter has twice won New Zealand's Katherine Mansfield short story prize and teaches creative writing at the University of Waikato.

    Her new book will be launched at the Art Fusion Gallery on campus, located in the base of the Student Centre, on Monday, May 25, at 6.30pm, and copies will be available to buy from the Gallery or from the Pania Press website.

    Her short story collection deleted scenes for lovers will be published by Victoria University Press early next year.

    Currently teaching two papers this semester, Creative Non-fiction and Voice and Image, Dr Slaughter has a sabbatical planned for the second half of the year.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

NZ Herald: Viva (26/11/14)

We've just received a nice notice in the NZ Herald's lifestyle section Viva (Wednesday November 26, 2014, p.6):

Seal of Approval

"I'm constantly on the look out for good art books, and Pania Press, a self-described 'bijou publisher of original literary and artistic works, in small editions' has produced some of my favourites. What I love about its publications is that there's always a special handmade element to them, whether it be the inclusion of a limited edition original artwork by the artist, a hand-sewn cover, or a clever pop-up surprise at the back of the book. With two fantastic writers at the helm of the company, the essays and verse are just as good."
- Ioana Gordon-Smith, curator at new gallery Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, 420 Titirangi Rd, Titirangi.

See for publications and to order.
Thanks, Ioana! And thanks, too, to artist Lucy Casley for her beautiful sketch.

Monday, November 10, 2014

First Fall

Pania Press is delighted to announce the launch of our latest publication: 
'First Fall' by Auckland writer Frances Kelly. 

Fran’s short story, set in Dunedin in 1866, tells the tale of Sarah Gallagher, a young woman lately arrived from Edinburgh, who is employed to help single women gain suitable work. As the story develops, Sarah, a gifted seamstress, teaches needlework skills to a group of unmarried pregnant women (described as ‘First Falls’) in the care of Mary Magdalene House. The narrative hints that Sarah herself had a baby out of wedlock, which she gave away before departing for New Zealand. 

The theme of the story, with its emphasis on needlework as a suitable female accomplishment, determined the design of the book as a quilted needle-case. 

Each copy of 'First Fall' has a unique textile token pinned to the inside cover, inspired by the foundling tokens that destitute mothers left with their babies at London's Foundling Hospital in the 18th century (you can read more about this aspect of Fran's story here).

'First Fall' publication details:
  • 60 page A6 sized digitally printed short story on 120gsm Conqueror laid paper
  • Limited edition of 50 signed and numbered copies
  • Each copy has a hand-embroidered quilted cover made from vintage silk kimonos with an elastic loop closure and a vintage button. There are five fabric designs to choose from.
  • Each copy contains a unique textile token pinned to the inside cover.
  • Price $45.00 (free postage in NZ)
Ten copies remaining as of 19 November 2014

To place an order email me at

'First Fall' was officially launched yesterday afternoon (9 November) at our home in Mairangi Bay and the event was attended by a lovely group of Fran's family and friends. Here are a few images of the launch:

Fran (left) and me in front of the display of books.

Fran reading an extract from her story

Kate Davis looking gorgeous!

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I just realised that I've neglected to write a post about a Christmas publication we produced last year as a gift edition for family and friends. The 38 page book Poinsettia: A Mermaid's Tale is an incomplete fantasy novel written in the mid-70s by Jack's sister Anne Ross (1961-91).

The story is about a highly intelligent and strong-willed mermaid called Poinsettia who rebels against the strictures imposed upon women in the walled underwater kingdom where she lives. Anne completed ten chapters of the novel, which were handwritten on the pages of a 1974 diary.

It is certainly a remarkable and accomplished piece of fiction, and hard to believe that it is the work of a teenage girl. Even though Anne never finished the novel, leaving off at a point where Poinsettia has just made her bold escape, we felt that the text, as it stands, was certainly deserving of publication.

Included in the book are a few of Anne's drawings that I came across in an old sketchbook.

One of these (above) depicts a mermaid. I like to think that this is Poinsettia herself, although she is a good deal more attractive than the wild-haired, long-nosed protagonist described in the pages of the story. Anne’s mother June thinks that Anne probably couldn’t bring herself to draw an unattractive mermaid.

While I'm not certain that these images relate directly to Anne’s story, they all come from the same sketchbook with the mermaid image in it, and probably relate to the same time period when the fantasy novel was being drafted. At any rate, they make a very nice accompaniment to the text.

The book has a hand-stamped cover with shells and red dots and a seahorse stamp on the title page.

Poinsettia was published in December 2013 in a gift edition of 30 copies.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Writing & Publishing

Wednesday 2 October, 7.30pm
Unitec Building 1 Room 2076

Bronwyn Lloyd (curator, arts writer, publisher)
Jonty Valentine (graphic designer, teacher, curator)

Selected publications that I've contributed to

I've been writing about New Zealand art, craft and design since 1999. I completed a Masters Degree in Art History and English at Auckland University in 2001 followed by a PhD on Rita Angus's symbolic portraits in 2010. A selection of the publications I've contributed to is shown above. 

My University education provided me with a very useful skill-set including understanding relevant theories, learning how to close-read particular works of art, learning how to carry out strategic research from archives of published and unpublished writings about artists, and learning how to undertake fieldwork involving interviewing living artists and the relatives of deceased artists. I now know how to structure a large body of writing and I know how to go about composing a persuasive researched essay. 

Institutional publications

When a writer is commissioned to produce a text for an institutional publication, you are generally provided with a writing brief that tells you the audience that the publication is intended for, the tone and style of writing that the institution requires from you, and the scope of the particular essay you are being invited to contribute. While such writing briefs are useful, they do limit the authorial control that you have in relation to your writing.

The writing in multi-contributor publications is often edited in such a way that the work of each of the contributors ends up sounding the same, as if it had been produced by a single writer. In my view this rather defeats the purpose of inviting a range of writers with diverse points of view about an artist's work to contribute essays. The content of the essays is often 'diluted' through the editing process and any material that might be considered provocative or potentially controversial tends to be edited out. Sometimes the final proof of the essay doesn't really reflect what the writer intended to say about an artist's work.

A more imaginative approach to art writing. 

I much prefer the kind of writing commission that involves a collaboration with artists, or those that allow the writer the creative freedom to approach an artist's work in a more imaginative way, rather than producing a conventional style of academic essay. This has been the trend I've observed in art publishing in recent years, which has (to some extent) supplanted the earlier method of having a small pool of art historians and writers who were approached by artists to write about their work.

is the best way to guarantee that a writer has control over the texts they produce.


Selected Pania Press Publications 2007-2013

Pania Singles: 'Silhouette' and 'Britain's Missing Top Model'

Pania Peculiars: 'Minotaur' and 'The Nightingale'


My writer husband Jack Ross and I conceived the idea of setting up a small publishing company in 2006 in order to promote the work of New Zealand poets and artists. Jack's previous experience as an editor of literary magazines such as The PanderBrief, and SpinLandfall and Poetry New Zealand, as well as his obsessive activities as a blogger, with over 30 blogs currently in operation, was an incredibly valuable asset as we started mulling over the possibilities of starting a small press. Combined with my interest in handcrafts and bookbinding, and my experience as an art writer and curator, we felt that we had the skills we needed to get underway.


Pania Press fund our own publications.
We invest our own money into each publication and we hope to recover our costs for each book through sales and generate enough money to pay for the next publication.

Pania Press will never seek funding from Creative New Zealand.

Pania Press is a not for profit company. 

These rules mean that we are not accountable to anybody else, we control the means of production entirely, we are not financially dependent on Pania Press in any way and therefore we can choose to pursue any projects we want to without risk. Above all, it means that Pania Press is a fun enterprise that we run in our spare time. It is something we do because we enjoy it while at the same time making a useful contribution to New Zealand art and literature.


1. BUILD UP A LIBRARY OF PUBLICATIONS that you respond to and identify the qualities that you would like to incorporate into your own publications.

In this respect, I've looked at other cost-effective, small press publishing initiatives for inspiration, such as Richard Killeen's Workshop Press and Karl Chitham's MOTH publications (below). I'm very impressed by the work of The Jewellers Guild of Greater Sandringham who produce an excellent E-Newsletter that publicises current happenings in the jewellery sector.

An influential publication in my library is a small catalogue called Angels and Flies by Julia Morison with texts written by Anna Smith.

This catalogue is an example of a creative response by a writer to an artist's work and a fruitful collaboration between an artist and writer. The Angels & Flies catalogue directly influenced my first creative response to an artist's work -  a stitched poem in response to Katharina Jaeger's exhibition Outlet at Lopdell House Gallery in 2001.

Stitched page  work 'Alice' (2001) with accompanying works by Katharina Jaeger and a photograph of the headless calico rabbit soft-sculpture Alice that inspired the poem.


From past experience I know that employing writers, photographers, designers and printers adds thousands of dollars to the cost of a publication, making publication prohibitive for most young artists unless they can secure funding from Creative New Zealand.

Cultivate a group of like-minded people with a range of useful skills and work out terms with them. Never exploit the good will of the people you collaborate with. Barter your skills if you can't afford to pay people. Eg. offer writing advice in exchange for assistance with publication design.

Use Copy Centres and other cheaper means of producing the publication. Shop around.

Learn basic book binding skills.

Create a free blog, rather than a website, in order to market and promote your publications.


Make small print runs (limited editions) and sign and number each copy. This creates desirability and rarity.

Simulate the properties of fine-press publications through the use of fine paper and card stock, or include one or two handmade elements in each production.

Katharina Jaeger, Fold, 2008

The Fold publication included a photo of Katharina's installation and a two-part 'breathing' pop-up form by way of a 'folded' paper response to the artist's works.

Graham Fletcher, The Eternals, 2007.

Graham Fletcher, Sugar Loaf Waka, 2013.

In order to keep our overheads low, I wrote the texts at no charge and Graham designed and screenprinted the covers for The Eternals. A student at Otago Polytechnic was employed to do this for Sugar Loaf Waka. I hand cut, scored and bound each copy.

Graham Fletcher: Paintings 1998-2004. CNZ funded publication.
Text by William McAloon / Design by Kim Meek.

Graham Fletcher Lounge Room Tribalism Mangere Arts Centre, 2012.
Texts by James Pinker, Graham Fletcher, Rhana Devenport and Caroline Vercoe
Design by Philip Kelly

The handmade element is the point of difference in our publications.

One of 45 drawings corresponding to each of the sculptures in the exhibition The Eternals.
A number of people attending the exhibition purchased a sculpture as well as the catalogue containing the corresponding drawing.

A selection of Graham Fletcher's Post-it note collages, 2009. 
A unique post-it note collage is bound into each copy of Sugar Loaf Waka.

The decision to include an original artwork in each copy of the two catalogues we produced for Graham was inspired by the experience of attending Julian Dashper's exhibition openings in the 1990s. Julian often had records for sale at his openings, which were affordable for students who wouldn't be able to afford his other works. This was an important aspect of his practice and we bought all of his records. 

Graham wanted to do something similar in his Pania Press publications. An original drawing was tucked into the back cover of each copy of The Eternals and a post-it note collage is included in the back of each copy of Sugar-Loaf Waka. The idea is that for $75 people can own a Graham Fletcher work.

Graham Fletcher signing copies of Sugar Loaf Waka, 2013.


Celanie: Poems and Drawings after Paul Celan, 2012
Translations by Jack Ross, drawings by Emma Smith

This publication is our most 'commercial' book to date. The larger size of the book meant that hand binding wasn't an option. A research grant from Massey University enabled us to employ a designer and have the book commercially printed. The interspersing of the poems with Emma's beautiful portfolio of drawings meant that it retained the Pania Press creative aesthetic.

This project had a long gestation period as Jack spent two years translating a selection of Paul Celan's poems included in letters to his wife Gisele, and Emma spent that same period working through numerous bodies of drawings until she arrived at a set of images that best expressed her response to Celan's poetry.


The second page of the pop-up book 'The Nightingale' (in progress)


The loss of Parsons has been a blow to small presses around New Zealand, but Parsons still operate a useful library distribution service and are keen to purchase small press publications.

Make sure you have a wholesale price for libraries, galleries and bookshops, so that retail outlets can add their 40% mark-up to make selling your products viable for them.

Be realistic in your pricing and think about who you want your work to appeal to.

Set up a blog to attract potential buyers. Post new projects there and update the catalogue of available publications frequently.

Take the trouble to stage book launches to celebrate each new publication

 Images from the Celanie book launch, November 2012.

Advertise your book launch well in advance so that people coming along know that they will be buying a book. In exchange for their patronage, give buyers a good experience, with plenty of food and refreshments.

Above all, take pride and pleasure in the books you are producing. 
Cultivate good relationships with everybody you work with and represent.
Ensure that you come away from every project with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.


(December 25, 2015) Antigone . Poem by Jack Ross. Design by Bronwyn Lloyd. Pania Singles 3. Auckland: Pania Press, 2015. Every Chri...