Founded in 2002, Pighog (www.pighog.co.uk) is an award-winning publisher based in Brighton, England.
Here founder Director John Davies and Assistant Editor Thomas Slingsby respond to a few questions about the press.
What was the initial impulse behind setting up your press (and where did the name ‘Pighog’ come from)?
John Davies: The impulse was a John Bull Printing Set received for a birthday in 1957 or thereabouts. After carefully setting up blocks of rubber type, I thought there had to be an easier way of printing. Over the years I kept an eye on new technology. In 2002, I published a photocopied pamphlet of my own work, the original The Nutter in the Shrubbery.
‘Pighog’ was a curious beast in a dream. I thought the animal needed something to keep him out of mischief so put his name to the embryonic press. The name ‘caught on’ and Pighog’s now a well known publishing brand.
The initial experiment was followed by a second pamphlet, Jackson, by Brendan Cleary. This explored a more professional production path using digital printing—I had finally put away my printing set. It was Brendan who suggested the then unusual and now much imitated B5 size of the Sussex series. The design was by Gary Smith at Curious in London. (I had worked with Gary at an American design agency in London.) Curious have recently completed work on the latest Pighog publication—A Lifetime of Love, a limited-edition, boxed set of love poems by Britain’s oldest poet, Moss Rich.
As founding director of writers’ organisation THE SOUTH and as a member of poetry collective 'Footwork', I knew of many poets in Sussex and the south east worthy of publication but at that time overlooked. These writers provided the raw material for the highly regarded Sussex series of pamphlets. Dancing to Motown by Lorna Thorpe won a PBS Pamphlet Choice, while Milk, by Sarah Jackson, was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award.
Brighton was transformed from ‘poetry nowhere’ into the poetry capital of the south. The ‘beach generation’, as John O’Donoghue calls it, had arrived. Soon after, many other publishers, large and small, came a-hunting on the Sussex coast.
In 2011, the Sussex series will see the publication of pamphlets by Charlotte Gann and Bernadette Cremin.
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