The Best British Poetry 2014 was edited by Mark Ford, who, in his Introduction, talks about the difficult task of going through “all the poems published in magazines and ezines between May 2013 and May 2014 in the hush of the Saison Poetry Library.” Like last year, I’ve tallied up the poems that he chose for inclusion
- Reviews are not to help poets improve their writing; a review of a finished poetry book doesn’t need sympathy for the work behind it; reviews aren’t workshops.
- Poets’ critical frameworks, if they have any – some consciously avoid them – , tend to be those conducive to their own creativity, to their writing rather than their reading.
- Criticism isn’t an appreciation of what it is to write poems, only what it is to read them.
I’m pleased that three out of the ten most read reviews on Sabotage in 2014 were mine: of Kim Kardashian’s Marriage, of some Annexe pamphlets, and of Rachael Allen’s Faber New Poets 9.
My interview with Dave Coates has been published on Sabotage, about reviewing. He’s one of the best poetry critics writing online, and always entertaining, diligent and good-natured. I think sometimes he and I don’t quite agree in some of our ideas of poetics, and I tried to tease a little of this out in the interview, but if we’re not on the same page we’re still in the same chapter.
At time of writing, since appearing in January 2013 The Emma Press has produced 4 collections (2 of which by co-editor Rachel Piercey), 7 pamphlets (mostly debuts), and 5 anthologies. Forthcoming is an anthology of poems on female friendship, edited by Amy Key, and it has open or recently closed calls for submissions on “urban myths and legends,” dance, and “ageing and age.” It is also calling for submissions of prose pamphlets.
The Press apparently has “4-6 calls for themed poems every year and two different calls for pamphlets,” and runs “The Emma Press Club,” whereby to submit for an anthology one must have “bought a book from the Emma Press website in the same calendar year as you are submitting, or to already have been accepted in an Emma Press book.” For pamphlets one must also pay a £5 submission fee on top of Club membership, or £10 without it. Much of the poetry audience are ultimately more keen to publish than to read; the Emma Press uses the chance of a book that has your poem to sell all the books that haven’t. (We’re told sales are approximately “150 a month.”) I’m not aware of any other British small publisher doing this.
The female friendship anthology, Best Friends Forever, has 32 contributors. I suspect at least some from established poets were solicited, so presumably exempt. But if we assume conservatively that it had 100 submissions (of up to 3 poems each) – for The Emma Press Anthology of Motherhood, Emma talks about sorting through 1,000 submitted poems, which could have come from 333 submissions – that’s 100 new members of The Emma Press Club (i.e. sales). 4-6 calls for submissions a year would then be, assuming no one submits twice, 4-600 book sales. If the cheapest of the Press’ attractive books is £3.50, that’s £1,400-£2,100 of gross revenue.
Anyway, this is why we see so many calls for submissions from The Emma Press.
I’ve an interview with Sophie Collins published at Review31 discussing Kenneth Goldsmith and ‘uncreative writing’, identity and the internet, translation ‘in the digital age’, and the anthology of experimental translation she’s editing. After my review of I Love Roses When They’re Past Their Best, which takes its title from one of Sophie’s poems, I was pleased to have the chance to discuss some of the ideas around the anthology with her.
Update: Michael Schmidt pointed out that I should be including Inpress as a recipient of NP funding. I’ve also added further information on GftA.
With no darker purpose I’ve been looking at records for funding for poetry from ACE. Those from Creative Scotland, Arts Council Northern Ireland and Arts Council Wales do not seem as comprehensive or accessible, and indeed seem to cover much less for poetry anyhow.