The Emma Press has been shortlisted for the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets. The independent publisher, based in Winnersh and founded by Emma Wright with editor Rachel Piercey, has been shortlisted for the £5000 Publishers Award alongside Flipped Eye, Rack Press, Smith/Doorstop Press and Shearsman Books.
The Michael Marks Awards are run by the Wordsworth Trust and the British Library, with the support of the Michael Marks Charitable Trust. There are two awards: the Michael Marks Poetry Award, for ‘an outstanding work of poetry published in pamphlet form’, and the Michael Marks Publishers’ Award, for ‘an outstanding UK publisher in pamphlet form, based on their publishing programme between July 2013 and the end of June 2014’.
The Emma Press published its first pamphlet, The Flower and the Plough, in January 2013 and will have published ten more by the end of 2014. They recently launched a pair of pamphlets, Oils by Belfast poet Stephen Sexton and Rivers Wanted by Rachel Piercey, with events in London, Oxford and Belfast.
The judges of the 2014 Awards were Tanya Kirk, Lead Curator of Printed Literary Sources at the British Library, Zaffar Kunial, current Poet-in-Residence at the Wordsworth Trust, and Andrew McCulloch, a poetry reviewer for the TLS.
The judges said: ‘A newcomer to the pamphlet world, the Emma Press was founded in 2012, with an aim to create poetry books that are visually stimulating with illustration and bespoke design. […] The judges were impressed by the confidence of this newly established press.’
Emma Wright said: ‘Rachel and I are beyond excited about being shortlisted for the Michael Marks Awards. Poetry pamphlets are quite an overlooked artform, by most literary awards as well as booksellers, but we believe that they are the key to finding new audiences for poetry. We are passionate about our books, and we are thrilled that the judges picked us to be on the shortlist.’
The results will be announced at a special dinner for the shortlisted poets and publishers on 25th November at the British Library.
He’s done it again! Mere months after being awarded the prestigious Newdigate Prize, Andrew Wynn Owen has now also won the Lord Alfred Douglas Memorial Prize for ‘the best sonnet or other poem written in English and in strict rhyming metre.’
The prize, open to students at Oxford University, required entrants to submit their poems anonymously, inscribing each page with a motto which could be matched up with their names and mottos in a separate envelope. Andrew’s winning entry was a section from his detective epic poem ‘The Adventures of Elmó Elmínus’. You can read it in full here and here’s a little extract:
‘Elmínus, in those days, was oft invited Along to parties thrown by courtly friends. He was the perfect guest – his name excited Those lively spirits that good speech attends, Which is the best of sprezzaturan ends. He grinned, he sang, he sipped a vodka tonic, His jokes were frequent and his humour chronic.’
In July, Andrew was awarded the Newdigate Prize for his poem ‘The Centrifuge’ and joined such noble alums as Oscar Wilde, Andrew Motion and one Rachel Piercey.
Publisher Emma Wright says: ‘The Emma Press published Andrew’s debut pamphlet, Raspberries for the Ferry, in March and we are incredibly proud and unsurprised that he is winning all these awards. He’s obviously brilliant and amazing, and I’m pleased that other people are recognising this.’
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Andrew is reading at the Southbank Centre on 3rd December as part of the Special Edition event celebrating Emma Press pamphlet poets. Entry is free but booking is essential. More details here.
Oils is Belfast poet Sexton’s debut pamphlet and features several poems inspired by paintings, including Peter Doig’s ‘Young Bean Farmer’ and Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Starry Night’. Sexton is currently studying for a PhD at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in Belfast and he won the inaugural Funeral Services Northern Ireland National Poetry Competition in 2012. He recently won third prize in the Poetry London Competition with his poem ‘Elegy for Olive Oyl‘.
Rivers Wanted is the first full-length pamphlet from London poet Rachel Piercey, following on from her short booklet of love poems, The Flower and the Plough, which was the very first publication of the Emma Press. Piercey works at the Poetry Society in London and is a poetry editor at the Cadaverine magazine. In 2008 she won the prestigious Newdigate Prize, previously won by poets including Fiona Sampson, Andrew Motion and Oscar Wilde.
The pamphlets were launched in London on 16th October and will be launched in Belfast on 30th October at the Crescent Arts Centre, as part of the Belfast Festival at Queen’s. For more details about this event, please visit the festival website. Entry is free, but booking is essential.
About the Emma Press
The Emma Press is an independent publisher dedicated to producing books which are beautiful and thought-provoking. It was founded in 2012 in Winnersh, UK, by Emma Wright, formerly of Orion Books. The Emma Press has just been shortlisted in the 2014 Michael Marks Awards for poetry pamphlet publishers.
We are delighted to announce that we are inviting proposals for prose pamphlets, to publish as part of the ‘Emma Press Pamphlets’ series. The open call for submissions will run until 25th January 2015 and we hope to begin publishing prose pamphlets from September 2015.
We are hoping to attract talented writers early in their careers, who might not be ready for a full-length publication, as well as more established writers who have a pamphlet-length project they would like to pursue. The Emma Press Pamphlets series currently contains exclusively poetry, from writers at all stages of their writing careers. The 36-page pamphlets are accessible to both writers and readers, due to their short length and price (£6.50 for a print copy and £4.25 for an ebook).
We are looking for proposals for formats including short stories, short plays, essays, recipes and guides. If you would like to submit, please visit our Submissions page and read the full guidelines. All writers who submit must be a member of the Emma Press Club, whereby they have to have bought a book from the Emma Press website within this calendar year, and additionally purchase a £5 submission fee per proposal.
Publisher Emma Wright said: ‘We’ve had a great response to our poetry pamphlets and lots of requests that we branch out into prose, so prose pamphlets seemed like a natural progression. We are very excited about the kinds of pamphlet concepts we will receive, and I’m hoping that our prose pamphlets help the poetry pamphlets reach a wider audience too.’
The Emma Press runs regular calls for submissions and our annual call for poetry pamphlets closed last month with a record 124 proposals. We are also currently open for submissions of poetry about Slow Things, and on December 3rd we are celebrating our poetry pamphlets with an event at the Southbank Centre – book your tickets here.
The Emma Press has just published a sumptuous anthology of poems about homesickness and exile, inspired by the Roman poet Ovid’s Tristia.
Homesickness and Exile, published on 18th September 2014, is a collection of poems about leaving and finding home, from the perspective of those who leave as well as those left behind. Many of the poems consider the difficulty of identifying a ‘home’ within various conflicting signifiers, including where you were born, where your parents are from, where you grew up and where you live now. The book was edited by Rachel Piercey and Emma Wright and it includes illustrations and an introduction by Emma Wright.
Publisher Emma Wright said: ‘The idea for the anthology came from the Tristia, a set of poems written by the Roman poet Ovid after he was banished from Rome by the emperor Augustus. We wanted to create a book which reflected modern feelings about homesickness, drawing parallels between an ancient Roman man yearning for his home two thousand years ago and people writing about the idea of home today.’
The poems in Homesickness and Exile were selected from the poems sent in response to an open call for submissions at the end of 2013, which resulted over 200 entries. The final selection features twenty-eight poets from across the world, including Dubai, Greece, America, Australia and New Zealand.
Publisher Emma Wright said: ‘We were thrilled with the response we had to our call for submissions, as it confirmed that the subject matter struck a deep chord with people and it meant we were able to select poems with a wide range of approaches and perspectives. We wanted to make the kind of book which people could give to imminent travellers, to keep them company on the road.’
Four poets from Homesickness and Exile will be reading at a special National Poetry Day event at the Story Museum in Oxford on Thursday 2nd October. Holly Hopkins, Selina Nwulu, Stephen Sexton and Anja Konig will perform their poems from the anthology as well as others on the theme of ‘Rembembering Home’. For more details, please visit the Story Museum website.
The Emma Press has announced a new call for poems about ‘slow things’ to coincide with their latest publication, The Dead Snail Diaries by Jamie McGarry. The Dead Snail Diaries is the posthumous debut from a Scarborough snail who met an untimely end one night in 2009 under the foot of human poet Jamie McGarry.
McGarry’s discovery of a tiny journal at the scene of the snail’s demise suggested a means by which he could atone for his carelessness. In McGarry’s own words, ‘I knew what I had to do: write up the contents of the diary in English, maintaining the snail’s original form (usually poetic) wherever possible, and distribute it as widely as I could, so that humanity might better understand our slimy, shell-dwelling neighbours.’
Publisher Emma Wright acquired The Dead Snail Diaries for the Emma Press in summer 2013 and has since worked closely with McGarry on creating a fitting tribute to the snail. She said: ‘We plan to launch The Dead Snail Diaries slowly, over the course of a year, with a series of low-key readings at festivals and allotments. We’re also encouraging other poets to engage with the snail’s pace of life, with a new call for submissions for Slow Things.’
The publisher has released details of Slow Things on their submissions page, inviting poems about ‘slow creatures, slow humans, slow activities, slow processes, slow moments in time, slow cookers, slow art. The slow march of history. Anything as long as it’s slow.’ Poets can send in up to three poems and must be members of the Emma Press Club, whereby they must have bought a book from the publisher’s website within this calendar year. The deadline for submissions is 26th October 2014 and the anthology is scheduled for release in spring 2016.
The Emma Press has launched a call for poems about UK politics in the run-up to the General Election, as well as a call for poems about voting.
The poems about UK politics will be published as Campaign in Poetry and the voting poems as The Emma Press Anthology of Voting. The independent publisher is calling for poems about ‘the Coalition, MPs, party politics, party leaders, the election campaigns and the rise of UKIP and the far Right’ for Campaign in Poetry and ‘poems about the history of voting, its present role in people’s lives across the world, and about voting in all contexts’ for The Emma Press Anthology of Voting. The independent publisher hopes the call for submissions will elicit poems written from a wide range of viewpoints.
Publisher Emma Wright said: ‘Contrary to what Jeremy Paxman believes, contemporary poets are very engaged with current affairs and I’m confident that we’ll get some fascinating responses to both of the briefs. The title Campaign in Poetry is inspired by a quote from New York politician Mario Cuomo, who said ‘You campaign in poetry. You govern in prose.’ We hope our own Campaign in Poetry will be a statement against disaffection, providing an alternative perspective on the political landscape of our country, and The Emma Press Anthology of Voting will be a fascinating exploration of attitudes to democracy across the world.’
The Emma Press has recently published anthologies of poems about motherhood and fatherhood, and anthologies about homesickness and female friendship are forthcoming in the autumn. For more details about how to submit to Campaign in Poetry and The Emma Press Anthology of Voting, visit the Submissions page.
About The Emma Press The Emma Press is an independent publisher dedicated to producing books which are sweet, funny and beautiful. It was founded in 2012 in Winnersh, UK, by former Orion Books employee Emma Wright and the first Emma Press book, The Flower and the Plough, by Rachel Piercey, was published in January 2013. The Emma Press was awarded funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England to run the 10-date Mildly Erotic Poetry Tour around the UK in Autumn 2013, to coincide with the publication of The Emma Press Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse. Read more about The Emma Press here.
The Emma Press has formed an alliance with Valley Press, another small publisher, and from now on we will be sharing a blog! I will continue to update the ‘News’ section of my site with bulletins about Emma Press books and events, but for more detailed updates and musings please head over to the brand-new Emma Valley Blog. Valley Press publisher Jamie McGarry and I will be posting about our respective businesses, books, and opinions about publishing, as well as some book reviews.
The Keen Bean, a tiny coffee shop in Oxford run by poet and entrepreneur Will Davies, has just started a series of free poetry nights to promote small and independent publishers. Will was kind enough to invite me to curate the first event and I leapt at the chance; I’ve been planning some events to coincide with the publication of The Emma Press Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse from September onwards and I was glad to be able to try some ideas out in front of a small audience.
The event, which took place on Saturday 3rd August, was a two-hander featuring Rachel and Richard, both friends of The Emma Press. Here are the introductions I wrote for the Keen Bean event page …
Richard O’Brien is one of the most exciting and in-demand young poets around, popping up most recently at the BBC Proms. He won the Foyle Young Poets of the Year award in 2006 and 2007, and his debut pamphlet, your own devices, has almost completely sold out. He has a second pamphlet coming out in the autumn with Dead Ink, as well as one scheduled for January 2014 with The Emma Press.
Rising star Rachel Piercey was President of the Oxford University Poetry Society and won the Newdigate Prize in 2008. She writes beautiful, lucid poetry and her illustrated pamphlet of love poems, The Flower and the Plough, was published by The Emma Press earlier this year. Last month she joined the editorial team on Cadaverine Magazine.
With a line-up like that, I was pretty confident about how the poetry side of things was going to go, but I also felt pressure to hold up my end of proceedings. I made some hand-stitched pamphlets, so the poets wouldn’t have to shuffle bits of paper around on stage, and I planned an informal speech explaining the origins of the press. The Keen Bean had the intimate atmosphere sorted already, so all that was left was the running order. At the suggestion of Rachel, I organised her and Richard’s poems into alternating chunks of 2-5 poems, designed to work as individual segments but also to speak to the preceding and following mini-sets.
Richard and Rachel, as it turns out, have very complementary styles. Richard approaches his subjects with great intensity and depth while Rachel has a sparer touch, drawing out her often startling observations with deceptive simplicity. They share a love of form and a nice line in almost masochistic emotional honesty, and watching them alternate was like taking a too-deep breath in and then puffing it out too fast: both giddying and intense experiences, but in different ways. They were brilliant on Saturday, and I really hope we can put on this show again so more people can see it. The whole event went as well as I had hoped it would, not least due to the relaxed charm of the Keen Bean and Will Davies himself.
As mentioned above, there will be many more Emma Press events taking place from September onwards, so do sign up to the newsletter and keep an eye out for announcements on Facebook and Twitter. These will involve lots of the poets from the Mildly Erotic Anthology (available for pre-order here) and will be completely amazing, so start getting excited … now! If you wish you’d been at the Keen Bean event, you can check out the setlist below and even read some of the poems for yourself.
The setlist:Richard O’Brien Rachel Piercey
Scintillometry Songs about Louise Desire Path
More Sharks Than Ever Before Actaeon Munch’s Cock
On Rosebery Avenue Bath time Truth or dare
Ransom The Smell of Apples Orpheus
Know not me Ride Tonight, Matthew…
Magician’s Assistant Victorian Pornography
Family tree Symbiosis
If you were just kicking yourself for not having made it down to Lower Marsh Market during office hours on a Friday recently, then stop kicking yourself. I’ve been enjoying the market very much, so you now have another month in which to wander down and get your hands on some poetry books which you might otherwise have had to order online, or maybe never seen at all. These are beautiful, tactile objects, so I would recommend strongly against forgoing this experience – these books have to be seen and felt to be believed, and where better to browse than in a sunny street in South London under a gazebo presided over by ME?
NEW DATES:Friday 12th July, 11am – 4pm Friday 19th July, 11am – 4pm Friday 26th July, 11am – 4pm Friday 2nd August, 11am – 4pm
As for the kinds of books I have to offer, there is of course The Emma Press’s The Flower and the Plough, resplendent in pink, and also a variety of books from the following independent poetry publishers:
* Donut Press. Donut Press has been producing beautiful poetry pocketbooks since 2001, when book-selling colleagues Andy Ching (editorial) and Liam Relph (design) joined forces to create a small publishing dream team. They are based in Devon and are publishing Murder Bear, by W.N. Herbert in the autumn.
* Sidekick Books. Sidekick Books was founded in 2009 by Jon Stone and Kirsten Irving, both award-winning poets. They publish anthologies with themes as diverse as Japanese monsters and British birds. They are currently working on Coin Opera II, a poetry anthology about video games, which was funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign.
* Valley Press. Valley Press is a dynamic Yorkshire-based publishing house, founded by writer and poet Jamie McGarry in 2008. Valley Press recently published the poetry produced by official Glastonbury Festival poet-in-residence Kate Fox and will be publishing an anthology of the winning short stories from The Big Issue In The North New Writing Award.