A Pick of the Pamphlets
Jenny McMahon, A Present of Quince (Mudfog Press, 2015);
Katrina Naomi, Hooligans (Rack Press, 2015);
Jocelyn Page, You’ve Got to Wait till the Man You Trust Says Go (Argent Press, 2015);
Nichola Deane, Trieste (smith/doorstop, 2015);
William Bonar, Offering (Red Squirrel Press, 2015);
Martin Malone, “prodigals” (The Black Light Engine Room, 2016).
In this digital age of tweets on Twitter, personal websites and every possible form of textual transmission, it is a pleasure to welcome the return to vogue of the poetry pamphlet, that slimmest of slim volumes now encouraged by the Michael Marks Awards, which recognise the publisher as well as the poet. Many presses have established the pamphlet as an award in itself, advertising a competition that results in what is usually, but not
always, a first publication. Notable pioneers were smith/doorstop Books back in the 1980s. Now we see creative writing courses following suit, almost in the way that visual arts colleges hold degree shows for their finalists. Goldsmiths is now running a pamphlet competition from their creative writing programme and no doubt others will follow to showcase their latest crop of graduates. Helena Nelson, who runs HappenStance Press, has established the website Sphinx, dedicated to the poetry pamphlet, promoting short OPOI reviews (‘only one point of interest’ in 300-350 words) much like a tweet. Sphinx’s list of small presses that publish poetry pamphlets now runs to six pages and, of course, we have seen the pamphlet taken up by Faber in its New Poets scheme. It has ...
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