Rack Press ever impresses – Poetry Review
The consistently reliable Rack PressTimes Literary Supplement
I have come to hope that a Rack Press pamphlet may be a tiny gift-box of unusually good poems – Alison Brackenbury, PN Review
Rack Press has the courage to be brief and elegant – The Rialto

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

Closed now for submissions

Thank you to all those who submitted work for consideration since we re-opened on 1 March. We are sorry to have disappointed so many of you but, as we warned, space was very limited and the pandemic set us back considerably. 

We will announce again when we are next open for submissions and watch this space for an announcement of the new titles for autumn 2022 when they are ready.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

Rack is Back!

We are very pleased to announce that Rack Press has finally emerged from its two-year Covid-induced sleep and will be re-opening on 1 March which is St David’s Day here in Wales – the national day of Wales. We have also changed our address – still in the heart of Radnorshire – to The Old Manse, Broad Street, Presteigne, Powys LD8 2AD, six miles from our previous base.  All other electronic contacts remain the same.

The story so far is that back in March 2020 we were forced to cancel at the last minute because of imminent lockdown the launch of four new pamphlets: Field Trips in the Anthropocene by A.C.Bevan, 24 Hours by Stephen Capus, A Dovetail of Breath by Fiona Larkin, and the bilingual Dy Galon Ofalus/Your Careful Heart by Elinor Wyn Reynolds. This was an excellent quartet of titles and we are pleased to say that copies of all of them are still available and can be ordered directly here.

Unfortunately, we were also forced to cancel all our planned 15th birthday celebratory events including a reading with live music at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre. We would have been marking 15 years of independent publication of 50 poets. 

We are very grateful, however, to The Poetry Pharmacy who invited some of our Wales and Marches poets to read in November, our only public event since lockdown and a great success.

Because small presses like ours, without any grants or subsidies, or extensive sales and marketing resources, depend on events and readings to sell what we publish, we took the decision to defer our annual launches of new titles until readings were once again a possibility. Fortunately, we had two other titles in the pipeline and these appeared in December 2020 (A Quartet in Winter by Nicholas Murray: still available) and March 2021(Homeland: Eighteen Bitter Songs (Yannis Ritsos) by David Harsent which is now sold out).

This means that our “closed for submissions” sign on the door has been turned back to “open" but we must stress that capacity this year is extremely limited as we have some work already in the pipeline. If you are considering submitting please read our guidelines VERY carefully. We regret that we do not have the resources to comment on work or offer anything other than a simple Yes or No but at least we promise to do our best not to keep you waiting any longer than is necessary.

Our plan, if possible, is to launch our new 2022 titles later in the year and this will be announced when they are ready.

In the meantime we would be very grateful if you chose to order some of our titles from this site now, some of which you will see are on special offer.

Thank you

Nick and Sue Murray

Rack Press

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Homeland: Eighteen Bitter Songs. A New Title from David Harsent

Homeland:Eighteen Bitter Songs

Versions of Yannis Ritsos 

by David Harsent

Date of Publication : 4 March 2021.

Available now to pre-order

Yannis Ritsos was born in Monemvasia in the Greek Peloponnese in 1909. As a young man he became a communist and his long career was marked by the travails of the Greek Left: proscription, imprisonment, internal exile. He was one of Greece’s most prolific twentieth- century writers, publishing extensive collections of poetry alongside novels and plays.  He wrote Homeland: Eighteen Bitter Songs in 1968-70, during the time of the Greek junta. Ritsos received the Greek First State Prize for Poetry in 1957 and the Lenin Peace Prize in 1977. He died in 1990 and is buried in the place of his birth.

David Harsent has published thirteen volumes of poetry. Legion won the Forward Prize for best collection; Night was triple short-listed in the UK and won the Griffin International Poetry Prize. Fire Songs won the T.S.Eliot Prize.  A new collection, Loss, appeared in January 2020.  In Secret, Harsent’s versions of Yannis Ritsos, published in 2012, was a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation.

‘In the tradition of Robert Lowell’s “Imitations”, these are versions of Ritsos by a major English poet. Yannis Ritsos, one of the most celebrated Greek poets of the 20th century, has at last found a “companion translator” who is up to the task.’
The Times Literary Supplement

‘[These poems] record, at times celebrate, the enigmatic, the irrational, the mysterious and invisible qualities of experience.’
New York Times Book Review

John Kittmer has a PhD in modern Greek literature and is working on the poetry of Yannis Ritsos.

Critical praise for Homeland:-

The poetics of an ongoing and bitter revolution needs to be compressed and tough while offering hope. The Greek poet Yannis Ritsos’s Eighteen Bitter Songs, set to music by Mikis Theodorakis, were written in hardship under the rule of the Colonels in 1968. They make a set of eighteen double couplets focusing on the tribulations and consolations of struggle in a natural landscape. David Harsent renders them with a clarity, precision and austere passion that is perfect for our times.

George Szirtes

These exquisite and beautifully chiselled poems themselves become, in Ritsos’s words as translated by Harsent, “a door that opens onto Greece”: conjuring Greek landscape, Greek poetry and Greek heartache.

Ruth Padel

The sober, elegant design of Homeland: Eighteen Bitter Songs commends itself to the hand and the eye, and is perfectly suited to the grave music of David Harsent’s versions of Yannis Ritsos.

Sean O’Brien

David Harsent’s new versions of that abundant poet Yannis Ritsos’ tersest poems are timely: it is as if Greek tenacity, now in the testing times of economic calamity, needed to be honoured anew. They are shrewd and often surprising recreations of poems whose reticence is a form of resistance.

David Ricks, Professor Emeritus of Modern Greek and Comparative Literature, King’s College, London

Ritsos’s curt and sometimes cryptic verses are like the ‘Bitter Songs’ that a person in political danger might sing, sotto voce, to sustain his or her spirit of resistance. Harsent finds and holds just the right pitch to convey to the English reader their urgency and quiet power.

Christopher Reid

Monday, 30 November 2020

A New Pamphlet by Nicholas Murray


Our last pamphlet of 2020, which has been our 15th anniversary year, is A Quartet in Winter by Nicholas Murray published on 1st December.

In the fourth of a series of formal verse satires that began in 2011 with Get Real! and which included Trench Feet (2014) and A Dog’s Brexit (Melos, 2017) Nicholas Murray evokes the Welsh Marches in early winter, when “frost lays its dust-sheet on the Radnor Hills”, contemplating, in rustic confinement in a pandemic, a world of “smirking kleptocrats on giant screens”, and the fate of the Earth “we treat so roughly”.

Nicholas Murray is a poet and literary biographer living in Powys. His most recent full-length poetry collection, The Yellow Wheelbarrow, was published in 2019 by the Melos Press. 

In The Manchester Review Ian Pople praised: “...the quiet rhythmic pulse with underpins all Murray’s poems. That assured rhythmic control is often allied with a closely observational sense in Murray’s writing”.

You can order the new pamphlet here (see side panel) post free at £5.

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

More Good Reviews


We were very pleased to see that A.C. Bevan’s pamphlet Field Trips in the Anthropocene is well reviewed in the latest issue of PN Review (No 256) as well as in the new issue of Stand. You can order it here (post-free, same day dispatch) and also other pamphlets published with it this year: Fiona Larkin’s A Dovetail of Breath, Stephen Capus’ 24 Hours and Elinor Wyn Reynolds’ Your Careful Heart/Dy Galon Ofalus [in Welsh and English]. You might like to try a set of all four, each individually signed by the author, for £15, a saving of £5.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

Irish Times praises Róisín Tierney

We were pleased that the Irish Times reviewer, Sean Hewitt, liked Roisin Tierney’s pamphlet Mock-Orange calling the poems “skilful and atmospheric”.  He continued: “These unsettling dark lyrics have a wonderful verbal energy; a mythic imagination.”  

Copies of the pamphlet are still available here and you can also read two new poems of Roisin in the latest issue of Dark Horse magazine.

You can see Róisín reading from the pamphlet on our You Tube channel.