Announcing the Shortlist from our August 2023 Open Call

Over the past few months, together with our Birmingham Editorial Readers Group (BERG), we have been reading and discussing the proposals from our August 2023 Open Call, and we’re thrilled to announce our shortlist. We received over 500 submissions across poetry and prose for adults and children in this call – our heartfelt congratulations to the 8 proposals that made the final shortlist, and thank you to all the writers who submitted for trusting us with your work.

Explore what why loved about these proposals below; find out more about BERG here.

Shortlisted Proposals

Antony Huen with A Manual for Boys

In this poetry pamphlet Huen dances across languages to scrutinise conflicts between cultural values and family relationships. We were particularly impressed by the poet’s deft experiments with form.

Twitter @AntonyHuen | Instagram @AntonyHuen

Caitlin Stobie and Kharys Ateh Laue, The Smell of Blood and Other Stories

A collaborative short story collection exploring womanhood across cultures. We were drawn to the collection’s relatable language, memorable characters and the navigation of queer girlhood and coming-of-age themes.

Twitter @CaitlinStobie | Instagram @Caitlinstobie

Lewis Buxton, Mate Arias

The theme of mental health was sensitively explored through tightly-crafted poems and subtlety of form: a pamphlet about male friendship with the power to engage a wide audience. We could really see these being performed!

Twitter @LewisBuxton93 | Instagram @Lewisbuxtonwriter

Mark Ward, Masters

We were convinced by Ward’s deep engagement with works of art, particularly by the pamphlet’s beautiful images and striking world building in these poems investigating queer history and shame. A reading experience akin to walking round a gallery – led by the poet’s intricate and sensitive gaze.

Twitter @dogwithoutlegs | Instagram @faekplastiksteev

Pratyusha, Glacial Voices

In Glacial Voices an exciting range of sources and genres feels expertly navigated by a lyrical, confident narrative voice; Pratyusha’s fresh and engaging approach to theme of climate change had us hooked from the opening pages.

Twitter @nala_e_bulbul

Rachel Jeffcoat, Moult

With Moult, Jeffcoat weaves the themes of love and destruction into a strong narrative arc to create a cohesive pamphlet, captivating the reader with a masterful use of natural imagery and unapologetic lack of sentimentality, particularly concerning motherhood.

Twitter @rachel_jeffcoat | Instagram @rachel__jeffcoat 

Ramona Herdman, The Moss Cure

Shedding light on the neglected topic of Long Covid but carrying resonance for other life-changing events, The Moss Cure feels vivid and tangible, with technicolour flashes. Each of Herdman’s poems really seemed to earn a place, skilfully illuminated by moments of humour.

Twitter @ramonaherdman

Yana Ellis, translation proposal of Таралежите излизат през нощта [Hedgehogs come out at night] by Jordanka Beleva

We loved the way the stories in this collection journeyed to the margins with voices we don’t usually hear. Sparse, mesmeric prose astutely crafted in English by the translator.

Twitter @YanaEllis | Instagram @YanaEllis

Longlisted Proposals

Adrian Johnson, The Black Country GIANT

Alyson Kissner, Prayer w/o Punctuation

Chris Jenkins, Things we soothe with dock leaves

David Ball, with a translation proposal of To Live in the World by François Migeot

Hanna Leliv, with translation proposal of Коні та портрет мого дядька [Horses and My Uncle’s Portrait] by Valentyna Kyrylova

Hugh Dunkerley, The Moose in the Caboose

James McGrath, Word-Castles and other Mental Variations

Jessica Rushton, Bavarde

Luis Guzmán Valerio, with a translation proposal of Elusive Memory by José Alcántara Almánzar

Ojo Taiye, Midnight Feast

Olena Ebel and Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp, with a translation proposal of Сніговий тепл [The Snow Warm] by Kateryna Babkina

Phoebe T, building

Ruth Donnelly, with a translation proposal of Matilde by Carola Martínez Arroyo

Taylor Edwards, House in the Sky

Yerkezhan Berkembayeva, In a Heart Glow

[Cover image by Elīna Brasliņa, from Cloud Soup by Kate Wakeling]


  • The Emma Press

    The Emma Press is an independent publisher specialising in poetry, short fiction and children’s books. We are trying to make publishing and literature as welcoming and accessible as possible.

    View all posts

The Emma Press is an independent publisher specialising in poetry, short fiction and children’s books. We are trying to make publishing and literature as welcoming and accessible as possible.
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