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

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.

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Special Sale Offer on Selected Titles

We are pleased to announce a special sale offer on selected titles from 2005-2018. 
Post free in the UK. 
All the following titles can be ordered for £2 each:

Soft Mutation by Nicky Arscott
Sherpas by John Barnie
Alabaster Girls by Damian Walford Davies
Minim by Hazel Frew
Nebamun's Tomb by John Greening
The Blue Cell by Anna Lewis
Inside the Animal House by Kathy Miles
Blood and Other Elements by Dawn Morgan
Mineral Adventures by Fiona Pitt-Kethley
Catching On by Angela Topping

To order choose from the Paypal sidebar to the right of this.

If you see a title from our pre-2019 backlist (scroll down on the right to see the full list) that you would like and can’t see it listed in the special offer simply email us and we will try to accommodate your order at the sale price.