UK poetry small press

The small press has always been a melange. Some are little more than vanity press, others are serious "alternative" (even campaigning) publishers of non-mainstream material. Then there are those who look upon bookmaking as a craft, with collectors in mind.

Major publishers have cut back on contemporary poetry (OUP have dropped out altogether) which should have left a vacuum for the small press to exploit, but this policy change coincided with booksellers making it more difficult for small presses to deal with the major chains. In consequence the small press now attracts bigger names but has even less access to traditional marketplaces.

Fortunately the WWW (as a marketing and sales mechanism) and increasing disenchantment with mainstream outlets has led to a minor revival, and it's no great surprise that shortlists have recently included small press publications. In 2007, of the 10 books in the Forward "Best collection" and "Best first collection" shortlists, 1 was from Arc and 3 were from Salt.

Here's an incomplete, loosely categorised list of some of the publishers.

Magazine publishers

Having a magazine helps a publisher find authors and also help publicise the books. PN Review and Carcanet have always been associated. More recently Seren have produced Poetry Wales. Amongst the small presses In addition the following magazines publish the occasional book

Book/Pamphlet Competitions

These publishers mostly publish competition winners, and do it well


The location of these sometimes matters - their grants might be tied in with a requirement to support local writers. Some of these are very much labours of love, producing a book or 2 a year when they have some money spare. Sometimes the costs are split between poet and publisher. They may have specialist tastes. Even if they do accept unsolicited manuscripts there's no point submitting without reading their guidelines and some of their products. Lollipop has a bigger list.
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Updated in June, 2008