All about poetry pamphlets

Spineless, short-lived and easily overlooked, poetry pamphlets are thriving against the odds.”   Paul Batchelor, in The Guardian

Latest competitions

Emma WrightIt seems incredible to me that you only started The Emma Press in 2012. You’ve done so much in that time! I know from your interview with the Poetry School that you used to work for Orion, and you left to make brooches and poetry books. Also I know your design and illustration for the Emma Press publications (and hence its distinctive look) is all created by you. You can draw! So why did you leave Orion? Was it because you needed to be more creative? And what did you learn from your Orion job about publishing that helped you in starting up on your own? (I know that’s three questions).

I left Orion because I was frustrated with my role, which was to manage the production of 500 backlist ebooks per year. I loved working the Production and Design department, but there wasn't any scope for creativity or promotion in my job and I couldn't handle the thought of doing it for a third year. I wasn't earning much money and I didn't want to be one of those people who bitches tediously about the job they've been in for far too long, so I resigned. I think it was more of an assertion of my freewill than anything else – I felt like I was expected to stay in the job because I wasn’t rich and I’d been lucky to get a job at all in the post-recession wasteland of 2010.

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TAPSALTEERIE POSTERQuestions for Tapsalteerie

You’re new. But not that new. It will be 2015 soon and you began in 2013. So who is ‘Tapsalteerie’ – the people behind the imprint name? And who does what?

Well the person behind it is me, Duncan Lockerbie. I act as a sort-of one-man publishing band really. I have had a lot of help and support from my wife Hayley though, who is invaluable when it comes to things like book fairs, or when some neat handwriting is called for. I also have the input of my silent partner, Jess the publishing cat, so I'm not entirely on my own.

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It's hard to keep the list updated. New ones arrive. Old ones vanish. Please keep me posted.

But here's the latest download from October 2014 (see below). My list is more 'mainstream' than not.

There are lots of other left-field, wayward, weird and wonderful imprints depending on your point of view. Pamphlets are all over the place really and what you probably think they are is only part of what they can be. If not sure what I mean, go to modernpoetry.org and take it from there.


Download this file (OCTOBER 2014__CHAPPUBS.pdf)UK poetry pamphlet publishers[ ]184 kB

I have tried to draw up a list of current, or nearly current, pamphlet competions in the UK.
The picture keeps changing and it may not be complete. Please let me know if there's a new one I should add.

Download this file (POETRY PAMPHLET COMPETITIONS.pdf)Poetry pamphlet competitions UK[ ]158 kB

Matthew Stewart confronts the dangers of moving too fast from poetry pamphlet to full collection, or from first book to second.Matthew Stewart

The process of preparing a second collection of poems is renowned for its traps and pitfalls. It’s often compared to that ‘difficult second album’ in musical terms. However, the transition from pamphlet to full collection shares many of the same perils. And of course it has others all of its own.

Let’s start with an obvious point in common: if a first collection is lukewarmly reviewed and has weak sales, publishers aren't likely to enthuse about a second. Of course, the same's true for a pamphleteer who wants to place a full collection.

In other words, the achievement of getting a chapbook into print is not a goal so much as a point of departure for sales via readings, blogs and so on. The next pitch is so very much easier if the poet can say the previous book sold out.

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