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The Emma Press





Camille Ralphs’ Malkin is a vivid collection of poems about the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612. Illustrated with woodcut-style drawings by Emma Wright. Shortlisted for the 2016 Michael Marks Award.

A boy gnew me by a stonepit. He steemed

in th sun stone-kneading, lighting trees like wicks;

his eyes were sofd as ash, and cities hymned

and chymneyed in the atlas of his sex.


I tricked in him, – unclocked all tocks, all ticks;

a debt that ploppd its anchor in my tchest –

nd 8 weeks fraille in rocking lihgt, I foamed

at the mouth like the sea.He ssuppd the moyst


unplundered of my underarm; he yessed,

impressed on me the braille of wouldlice

havocking the rocks.


I kept him at a cost:

he got with dogg my daughter, bent our howse

toward a future wigged with cirrus,

fingernail’d with hangman’s lime. I died in prison.


– ‘Elizabeth Sowtherns (alias Demdike)’, from Malkin.

As featured on Cerys Matthews’ show on BBC 6 Music.

Page count: 36

Paperback ISBN 978-1-910139-30-1

Publication date: 19th November 2015

GTIN: N/A SKU: 9781910139301 Categories: , , , Tags: ,

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.


Malkin brims and bubbles with the voices of those accused in the Pendle Witch Trials of 1612. Thirteen men and women – speaking across the centuries via Ralphs’ heady use of free spelling – plead, boast and confess, immersing the reader in this charged and dangerous time in history.

Praise for Malkin

An engagingly inventive pamphlet bringing the Pendle story to life through innovative language, which dazzles and enthrals. Poems attuned at once to the rhythms and limits of language. ‘ – Judges for the 2016 Michael Marks Awards

Malkin is a mesmerising series of poems, by turns serious and playful, accessible and innovative, musically exuberant and delicately formed.’ – Dominic Hale, Sabotage Reviews

‘What impresses me about Malkin and its style, compared to related areas of the avant-garde, is the subtlety of the conceits. Much experimental writing ends up being just that – clinical, something by which difference alone is measured. Ralphs transcends this. […] She has a pure instinct for her own style, while drawing capably on a gritty, serious atmosphere that is the birthright of certain English poets from Gawain to Hughes; a kind of wit we associate more with Donne; a tenderness found in Rossetti’s lyrics. There is something lasting about the poems.’ – Tom Cook, Partisan

‘[…] Camille Ralphs has offered up something very special with Malkin. It froths with tales of honesty and accusation into which are embedded the harrowing, grainy details of “loppsyded children” and “dropsied glops of blud”.’ – Louise Essex, Cuckoo Review

‘Certainly there is a feeling of joyful freedom to Ralphs’ poetry, as if liberated by the ability to shift language to fit her purpose and the voices of her characters. […] Reading Malkin is an immersive experience in which the reader’s intimacy with its characters is strengthened through the sharing of their unusual language.” – Suzannah Evans, The North

‘This pamphlet is a curious, engaging treatment of a bitter subject buried by time and the obscurity of women’s history. Everything the pamphlet stirs up has relevant messages to modern feminism and even topics such as the relevance of capital punishment and how in some countries it is ongoing today. Also poignant are the themes of manipulation of facts through words which is of course an eternal theme.’ – Sarah Gonnet, Cuckoo Review

‘The little appendix towards the end of the pamphlet gives a little background on the identity of our storytellers and the relationships between them. I found myself flipping backwards and forwards almost compulsively, and it really did enrich the experience. You begin to see how dangerous and powerful words can be to convict, and whether you believe the confessions or sense the desperation in them, each narrator’s play to be heard commands respect.’ – Caroline M Hardaker

‘This little book of 14 poems about the Pendle Witch trials takes you on a journey back in time to hear the sounds and live through the experiences, thoughts and feelings of those accused. […] Within these poems you can hear their voices and feel their fear. You can’t help but lament for them going through their ordeal in this dangerous and often ignorant time.’ – Susan Hackney, Appetite

Interviews with Camille Ralphs

‘I felt drawn to them because I felt that they hadn’t quite been done justice in literature before. They have been ‘covered’, but somehow it didn’t seem angry enough. When Miller wrote The Crucible (1953), that was angry. But I felt there was nothing said about the Pendle Witches in the UK that was comparable.’ – Camille Ralphs in conversation with Shoshana Kessler for the London Magazine

‘The single best piece of advice I’ve ever been given by an established figure (in this case, Paul Muldoon) is this: take your sweet time. In your ‘apprenticeship’ period, which can last any number of years, you need to be writing a lot and figuring out your style – you don’t need to publish until you’re absolutely ready.’ – Camille Ralphs in conversation with the Young Poets Network

Additional information

Dimensions 11 × 17.8 cm

Pamphlet, eBook

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