All about poetry pamphlets

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

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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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Andrew SclaterAndrew Sclater on Stewed Rhubarb

Based in Edinburgh, Stewed Rhubarb press was founded in 2012 by James T Harding and Rachel McCrum. Sphinx also hosts an interview with its creators (click on the link).

Stewed rhubarb is good! I already enjoy eating it. Now I can say I like reading it too.  Actually, there’s nothing puddingy about Stewed Rhubarb Press, even if its poems do tickle the senses a little. These pamphlets won’t settle you into the farmhouse kitchens of Ambridge, Argyll or anywhere else; they’ll lead you towards the performance stage.

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Stewed Rhubarb, based in Edinburgh, publishes spoken word pamphlets. Originated and run by James T Harding and Rachel McCrum, it has just won the highly coveted Callum Macdonald Memorial Award 2013 for its ground-breaking (in several senses) publication, The Glassblower Dances. This interview with James and Rachel fills in some of the background.

So . . .  Stewed Rhubarb is a relatively new poetry press, specialising in spoken word artists, and it was devised in a garret in Edinburgh. Can you say a bit more about the garret? And how you came up with the name?

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At the start of December, 2012, David Tipton, author and publisher, died. You can read an obituary here.

To commemorate his extraordinary life and work, a feature about him is attached here as pdf. This is drawn from the paper magazine that preceded Sphinx online. It was compiled in August 2006 after talking to David at some length on the phone.

Download this file (DAVID TIPTON, SPHINX 4.pdf)DAVID TIPTON, SPHINX 4.pdf[David Tipton: Rivelin and Redbeck Press]74 kB

In April 2011 Rosie Miles wrote an essay as part of her MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Manchester Metropolitan University considering HappenStance and Nine Arches presses as examples of contemporary independent poetry pamphlet publishing in the UK. She agreed to have the essay formatted for general interest readers here. You can find it as a pdf attached.

Download this file (ROSIE MILES ESSAY.pdf)ROSIE MILES ESSAY.pdf[HappenStance and the Nine Arches - Rosie Miles]112 kB

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