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)
of non-mainstream material. Then there are those who look upon
bookmaking as a craft, with collectors in mind.
- For a history, see Wolfgang Gortschacher's books
(e.g. "Contemporary Views on the Little Magazine Scene", Wolfgang Gortschacher, Poetry Salzburg, 2000).
- Staple, issue 62 (a special issue on "Ten Years of Small Press Poets: An Alternative Generation", Elizabeth Barrett (ed), 2005) added more information.
- See Happenstance's regular Sphinx magazine for further updates.
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.
Having a magazine helps a publisher find authors and also help publicise
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
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.
Updated in June, 2008