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Category Archives: Publishing

Writing & the Small Press Conference March 31

 

This was a well-organised and well-attended conference which took place at the Old Fire Station in Salford University. It was heartening to see how time and again the emphasis was placed upon the passionate concern for communicating which was not confined to economic market forces.

Robert Sheppard (Edge Hill University) gave an energetic and high-velocity talk on Bill Griffiths, Nickolai Duffy (Manchester Metropolitan) took us through the fifty years of Burning Deck publishing which was run by Rosmarie Waldrop from the basement in Providence Island and Lila Matsumoto (University of Edinburgh) presented a witty and visually delightful tour of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s connection with Wild Hawthorn Press. Ian Brinton gave an account of the early years of Ferry Press and how J.H. Prynne’s Brass nearly got de-railed.

 

Quote of the day: ‘A culture which despises its artists may be in greater need of those people than the one which values them.’

All credit to Scott Thurston, Lucie Armitt and Ursula Hurley for a terrific day’s word-hammering.

 

Certain Intelligence from the Mountain

What a real delight to see collected together in this attractive format a major selection from the prose of the privately circulated poetry worksheet The English Intelligencer. Building upon an excellently run one-day conference last year at St. John’s College Cambridge the three organisers Neil Pattison, Reitha Pattison and Luke Roberts have compiled this break-through publication which has been published by Mountain Press (http://mountain-press.co.uk). As the blurb on the back puts it:

The English Intelligencer’s shifting cast of contributors included such major figures in modernist poetry as Andrew Crozier, John James, Barry MacSweeney, J.H. Prynne and Peter Riley.

The correspondence and essays published here for the first time represent the discourse of an extraordinary group of young poets struggling collectively and independently to articulate the terms of a radical poetics.

Paladin Poetry: Re/Active Anthologies

Paladin Poetry: Re/Active Anthologies

In February 1990 Andrew Crozier wrote to Ian Paten the Editorial Director of Grafton Books concerning the possible publication of his own work alongside that of Donald Davie and C.H. Sisson in one of Iain Sinclair’s new triad of poets: Paladin’s Re/Active Anthologies. Crozier’s letter stressed the importance of the Grafton poetry programme and recognised that it is ‘perceived as such I know by literary and academic colleagues.’ He concluded ‘I am very glad to be associated with it.’ Iain Sinclair’s editorial work with Paladin had overseen the publication of some remarkable volumes at the end of the eighties and beginning of the nineties including John Ashbery’s April Galleons, Gregory Corso’s Mindfield, Jeremy Reed’s Red-Haired Android, Douglas Oliver’s Three Variations on the Theme of Harm, the Crozier-Longville anthology A Various Art as well as his own collection Flesh Eggs & Scalp Metal. As if to pick up on the ambitious Penguin venture of the seventies of placing three poets together between the covers, so to speak, Sinclair’s new venture of Re/Active Anthologies was a sheer delight. The first to appear contained a subtitle, future exiles, 3 London Poets, and represented the work of Allen Fisher, Bill Griffiths and Brian Catling. As the blurb put it these poets are ‘rogue angels, dynamic presences as yet largely ignored in the cultural life of the capital.’ The second volume to appear was subtitled ghosts in the corridor and contained a substantial selection of work by Crozier, Davie and Sisson. The Andrew Crozier poems were of course selected by himself and it is no surprise to see ‘The Veil Poem’ and ‘Pleats’ in their entirety as well as some separate delights such as ‘The Heifer’, a poem written ‘after Carl Rakosi’ and for Andrew’s wife, Jean. The third of these remarkable anthologies, the tempers of hazard , contained work by Thomas A. Clark, Barry MacSweeney and Chris Torrance. Sinclair’s own account in Lights Out for the Territory says it all:
The Tempers of Hazard was launched with a reading at Compendium. And then rapidly pulped…An instant rarity. A book that began life as a remainder and was now less than a rumour. A quarter of a century’s work for the poets: scrubbed, reforgotten.
Referring to the pulping of this last Re/Active Anthology Chris Torrance wrote to me eight years ago to say that ‘The Paladin Glowlamp was already written into the script. I was forewarned; I could see which way the wind was blowing, the wind of razors shredding text, of Farenheit 451.’

Wikipedia or Encyclopedia?

The demise of the print version of The Encyclopedia Brittanica after 244 years of publication is something of a milestone in publishing history. I enjoyed reading the old issues with their retrospective insights into a past world. The joy of seeing how things were perceived and understood fifty or sixty years ago is informative, fun and curiously satisfying. There is a sense of knowledge being marked in time and of young minds being introduced to the wider world in a relatively compact and concise form. The contemporary online equivalent Wikipedia is nowhere near as reliable. Some might argue that its provisional nature and status is a virtue. It is also much wider, more inclusive and open to anyone to write. It is easier to reach and despite its unreliability a potentially useful starting place. The problem is that it may not by its nature be able to move from potentially useful to an established epistemological position unlike those old dusty books. Wikipedia needs more reliable online competitors.

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