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

Monday, 23 December 2013

New Series of Rack Poets Launched in London 21 January 2014

Available NOW! to buy on this site the new Rack Poets are officially launched in London on 21 January 2014.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Brave New World In Good Shape

"prohibited language"
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Aldous Huxley on 22 November 1963 (an event overshadowed by the Kennedy assassination on the same day).  His predictions in Brave New World of a future where "soft power" ruled and we gladly "loved our slavery" might have seemed outlandish in 1932 when the novel was published but it all begins to look more and more plausible as the Snowden revelations indicate massive illegitimate surveillance of the citizen in the US and the UK that no one seems very much bothered about.

In the latest issue of Le Monde Diplomatique, a French journalist, Jean-Baptiste Malet, writes a disturbing article about the reality of work practices in Amazon's distribution centres based on his new book En Amazonie. Infiltré dans le 'meilleur des mondes'.  The reality he describes does indeed sound like Brave New World. Malet's title alludes directly to the French translation of Huxley's novel Le meilleur des mondes a phrase taken of course from Voltaire's Candide.

Rack Press has some experience of Amazon's "soft power" as have many small poetry presses who about a year ago suddenly found their titles listed on Amazon as "not available" when they were very much available, in print, and in some cases the ink was not yet dry.  I protested to Nielsen Book Data who supply the information to Amazonia whenever you register for an ISBN.  Nielsen said that they could not and would not do anything because they could not interfere with the commercial practices of Amazon, even though they were damaging the commercial interests (yes, yes, I know that's a joke given our turnover) of Rack Press.  Defending Amazon, Nielsen said that "not available" meant just that.  It meant that Amazon couldn't be bothered any longer to source small press publications not that it was saying they were out of print.  I fear this subtlety will be lost on most internet surfers who will conclude that the titles are truly not available as a result of being out of print.

OK, I said, then can we be removed from Amazon.  We sell almost nothing through them, we prefer to sell through our own website or ace bookshops like the London Review Bookshop in London, and if all they can do is tell the world our publications don't exist we'd be better off without them.  No way, said Nielsen, we "cannot" (a phrase one hears a lot these days) stop supplying Amazon with this ammunition against Rack Press.  Have a nice day.

I then tried, with no success, to recruit some other small publishers in doing something about this but they showed no interest.  Are people frightened of Amazon?

Today I tried a new tack.  I registered as a seller of one of my own books with another small press that had fallen victim to the "not available" virus and added that it was also available direct from my publisher and was therefore very much "available".  Like a flash Amazon came back and withdrew my seller listing which, they said, had "violated" their policy.  Actually I was just being a bit cheeky.  I am a Scouser, dammit. Amazon, however, takes the offence of lèse-majesté very seriously and smacked me down.

I was warned that any mention of a website or a phone number on a seller's listing was "prohibited" and that my listings had been closed down.  They will have me back, they say, if I remove all "prohibited language" from my listings.  Relax, guys, I won't be back with any kind of language whatsoever.  Naturally all these threats were sent from a robot that "does not accept" replies so I cannot communicate with them.  Once again, they are technically correct to say that they can maintain the monopoly of the sacred Amazon Payments System on their own website, but a wiser organisation would have seen the point I was trying to make and got into dialogue with me.  What do they think they are gaining by antagonising tiny poetry presses and their readers?

Did I say, have a nice day?

Thursday, 14 November 2013

'In Excellent Shape'

Ian Parks author of
The Cavafy Variations
We were very pleased to see in today's Times Literary Supplement a review of a crop of new (ish) poetry pamphlets from the small presses that declared this tradition to be "still in excellent shape".  TLS reviewer Andrew McCulloch singled out two pamphlets from "the consistently reliable Rack Press", Nicholas Murray's Get Real! and Ian Parks's The Cavafy Variations.  The latter was a Poetry Book Society pamphlet choice this summer and the former, though now out of print can happily be found reprinted in Nicholas Murray's Acapulco: New and Selected Poems (2012, Melos).

In a very positive review of a good range of poetry pamphlets, the TLS reviewer described Get Real! as a "bravura display of finely controlled outrage" and of The Cavafy Variations it says Ian "captures the measured, graceful voice and quiet humour on which so much of Cavafy's poetry depends in a way that makes us feel we are hearing it properly for the first time.  This, you feel, is exactly what these poems would sound like if they had been written in English.  It is to be hoped Parks will return to Cavafy."

The occasion of such an extensive review of poetry pamphlets is the announcement next week (19 November) of the winners of the Michael Marks Awards.  Rack Press is one of five shortlisted for the publisher's award category.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Michael Marks Award 2013 Shortlist Announced

A rich autumn harvest of poetry announced
Five poetry pamphlet publishers have been shortlisted for the 2013 Michael Marks Award and Rack Press is very pleased to be on that shortlist for the second year running and to be in such distinguished company as Flarestack Poets, Mariscat Press, Pighog Press and Shearsman Books.

The five of us will be present and correct at the British Library on 19th November to hear the winner announced and best of luck to everyone.

There is also a shortlist for Pamphlet of the Year which we won last year with Róisín Tierney's Dream Endings and 150 pamphlets were submitted to produce a shortlist of six: David Clarke, Kim Lasky, Kim Moore, Ben Parker, Neil Rollinson, and Chrissy Williams.

Poetry pamphlet publishing would therefore seem to be in a very healthy and vigorous state and we are all grateful to the Michael Marks Award for this annual recognition of the richness and diversity of this branch of poetry publishing.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Upcoming Events

We are pleased to announce two Autumn readings from Rack Press including an appearance as part of the Bloomsbury Festival on 19 October at the London Welsh Centre in Gray's Inn Road, Bloomsbury where five Rack Press poets will take part in a panel on Dylan Thomas starting at 5pm to 6 and then they will read from their own work from 6-7pm.

The poets are:-

  • John Powell Ward, poet and former editor of Poetry Wales
  • Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, poet whose last two collections have been shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year and whose new Rack Press pamphlet will be published in January
  • William Palmer, poet and novelist who spent his childhood in Montgomeryshire who also has a new Rack Press pamphlet out in January
  • Martina Evans, poet and novelist, author of Petrol, Through the Glass Mountain and Midnight Feast
  • Katy Evans-Bush, poet and blogger, whose latest book is Egg Printing Explained

On 7 November at the Lamb in Lamb's Conduit Street, also in Bloomsbury, four more Rack and Melos  Poets will be reading at 7.30:-

  • Róisín Tierney
  • Nicholas Murray
  • Michèle Roberts
  • David Harsent

And in early January the new series of Rack Press pamphlets for 2014 will be launched. More details about all these events will appear here.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

All the Fun of the Poetry Book Fair

The Free Verse Fair in full swing
Sue and I had a really good time at the Free Verse poetry book fair on Saturday 7 September at Conway Hall in London, now an annual event and brilliantly organised by Charles Boyle of CB Editions, Chrissy Williams and others, including lots of wonderful volunteers.

London publishing may be in a state of creative confusion these days but poetry publishers are proving that they are undaunted and the sheer range and variety of poetry on offer was astonishing.  Sue and I met many people and heard many poets read including our own Susan Grindley (see picture).  Thank you to everyone who came to our stall and chatted, bought books, or just nattered about poetry.
Susan Grindley reads from New Reader in the open
in Red Lion Square

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Rack Press at Presteigne Festival

Left to right:
Roger Garfitt, Ros Hudis, John Barnie, Nicholas Murray
The Rack Poets had a very successful reading at the Presteigne Festival on 22 August and thanks to all who came to hear us read.  We are sorry that illness prevented a couple of our advertised poets from reading but we were grateful to local poet Roger Garfitt for stepping in at the last minute to read splendidly as a guest poet.

We will be at the Free Verse poetry book fair in London on Saturday 7 September so come along and meet us.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Rack Press Poets at Presteigne Festival

Phone box in village of Kinnerton, Powys,
home of Rack Press
Here in the Welsh Marches August is the month of the Presteigne Festival, a major and exciting part of the British music scene.

Rack Poets are delighted to have been invited to read on Thursday 22 August in the Assembly Rooms in Presteigne at 11.30 a.m.

The line up includes Ian Parks, Steve Griffiths, Rosalind Hudis, John Barnie and Nicholas Murray.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Ledbury Readings

Susan Grindley reading
The weather at Ledbury Poetry Festival this weekend was outstanding but it was as nothing compared to the Rack Press poets who read so well at the Shell House Gallery.  Here are some pictures from the day.
Ros Hudis about to read

The Ledbury Venue

Rack publisher Nick Murray
and poet Ian Parks
contemplating refreshment

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Rack Poets at Ledbury Poetry Festival

Ros Hudis
Ian Parks
Susan Grindley

Rack Press is delighted to be at the Ledbury Poetry Festival on Saturday 13 July.  Three of this year's poets will be reading in the Shell House Gallery and they have good 20 minute slots and are all superb readers so get along there if you are in Ledbury and meet the poets and Rack Press.  We have been promised a heat wave for July and we in turn can promise you some great readings.  It will be a special pleasure to be in Herefordshire, the adjacent county to Powys in Wales where Rack Press is based and it's our first visit ever.

Susan Grindley will be reading from her Rack Press pamphlet New Reader and other work from 12.15-12.35pm; Rosalind Hudis will be reading from 2pm to 2.20 pm from her pamphlet Terra Ignota with new work and Ian Parks will be reading from The Cavafy Variations which is a Poetry Book Society Summer Choice and other new work between 3.40 and 4pm.  All at the Shell House Gallery and all free of charge.

If you are staying on until Sunday, Rack Press founder Nicholas Murray will be reading from his collection Acapulco: New and Selected Poems (Melos) and from his new pamphlet of animal poems from Melos between 12.15 and 12.35.


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Rack Poets Reviewed in Latest Warwick Review

In these exiguous times for poetry reviewing when many major collections go unreviewed it is always nice to get good review coverage and two of the new 2013 Rack Press pamphlets, by Ian Pople and Susan Grindley [you can order both of these here] are warmly reviewed in the latest Warwick Review No 2, June 2013.  In addition to these two we published this year Rosalind Hudis's Terra Ignota and Ian Parks's The Cavafy Variations and also, this month, David Harsent's Songs from the Same Earth all of which are available for purchase here and have received a very good reception.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Ian Parks's Cavafy – a Poetry Book Society Choice

The Summer Bulletin of the Poetry Book Society has arrived and in it Ian Parks' Rack Press title, The Cavafy Variations, which is a PBS Summer Pamphlet Choice, is reviewed.  The anonymous reviewer says that Ian has "a fine ear for underplayed vowel music, and knows how to keep a line rhythmically taut" and makes some very interesting and perceptive comparisons with the work of other translators.  An excellent review of an excellent pamphlet which can be ordered here now.

You can join the Poetry Book Society by visiting their website www.poetrybooks.co.uk

Friday, 14 June 2013

Songs from the Same Earth Triumph at Aldeburgh Festival

Sir Harrison Birtwistle's setting of David Harsent's Songs from the Same Earth (the text published yesterday by Rack Press) was premiered last night at the Aldeburgh Music Festival at Snape Maltings Concert Hall and received a rapturous reception from the audience.

Sir Harrison Birtwistle (l) and David Harsent (r)
on stage at the Peter Pears Recital Room, Snape Maltings
At a pre-concert talk in the Peter Pears Recital Room, introduced briefly by Rack Press publisher Nicholas Murray, David Harsent read the entire sequence before taking part in a discussion with Harrison Birtwistle chaired by Tom Service.  Harry (as he appears to be universally known) revealed that he is a great reader of poetry but confessed with his dry Lancastrian humour that: "Poetry has to be a suitable case for treatment; it's only any good to me if it can be set to music." David Harsent said that Harry had a "great sensitivity to the text" and "a fantastic sense of theatre" which was clear from the subsequent performance given by the outstanding tenor Mark Padmore.  Both composer and poet admitted that they tended to work intuitively, without a pre-existing plan, and all the ingenuity of interviewer Tom Service was required to get the two to explain how they worked together.  That they did do so was clear from the piece itself. With a fine intuitive sense of the urgencies of product placement Harry waved his Rack Press pamphlet of the poems around as he tried to explain how he came to write the concluding musical section.  We were too bashful to photograph this moment. The concert was recorded for transmission later this year on Radio 3.

Monday, 10 June 2013

New David Harsent Pamphlet launched at Aldeburgh Festival

We are delighted to announce the publication of David Harsent’s striking new sequence of poems, Songs from the Same Earth, to co-incide with the Aldeburgh Festival première on 13th June of Harrison Birtwistle’s setting of the poems. 

The piece is a Royal Philharmonic Society/Britten-Pears Foundation commission to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten and the bicentenary of the foundation of the Royal Philharmonic Society. The piece will be performed by Mark Padmore (tenor) and Till Fellner (piano). 

The protagonist of Songs from the Same Earth is a woman in crisis. The sequence gives us glimpses of the uncertain and menacing world she inhabits.
David Harsent has published ten collections of poetry. The most recent, Night, was Poetry Book Society Choice for Spring 2011 and won the Griffin International Poetry Prize, as well as being shortlisted for the Forward Prize (Best Collection), the T.S. Eliot Prize, and the Costa Poetry Prize. 
His work in music theatre has involved collaborations with a number of composers, but most often with Harrison Birtwistle, and has been performed at the Royal Opera House, Carnegie Hall, the Proms and on Channel 4 TV.

Songs from the Same Earth will be available here to purchase online from Thursday 13 June

Friday, 24 May 2013

Amazon Attack on Small Presses

We have just discovered that Amazon has started, unilaterally, without consulting anyone, to state that certain small press titles are "unavailable" when they are plainly in print and very much available.  This is a sinister and unpleasant move by Amazon because they consulted no one about it and are in effect putting out false information because people who use Amazon will assume that they are right and that the publications are unavailable.

When a new publication is given an ISBN number by a publisher details are automatically routed to Amazon and others.  The publisher has no choice in the matter.  I cannot remove this information from Amazon's site and if we depended on them for sales, which we don't, this would be extremely damaging, like a public and false declaration that our titles were out of print.

The moral is clear: when buying from small poetry presses buy direct from them and never from Amazon.  That way more of the income comes to us and we can survive longer.

Things are little better in the much-mentioned independent bookseller world.  Foyles refuse to stock our publications  even as they accept the award of Independent Bookseller of the Year.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Ledbury Poetry Festival and New Reviews

Several new Rack Press titles for 2013 are reviewed in the latest issue of the excellent New Walk magazine.  Victoria Field reviews Ian Parks' The Cavafy Variations which we are delighted to announce is the Poetry Book Society Summer Pamphlet Choice.  "I love what Parks has done," writes Field in her review.  We do too.

Two pamphlets from last year (poetry reviewers play a long game), The Heretic's Feast by Michèle Roberts and House of Blue by Denise Saul are also reviewed in New Walk by Philip Morre who praises both pamphlets, referring to Denise Saul's "wonderfully subtle touch with magical ingredients" and her "truly original voice".

If you would like to see some Rack Press poets reading come along to the Ledbury Poetry Festival next month where Rosalind Hudis, Susan Grindley, and Ian Parks will be reading from their new Rack Press pamphlets and other work. More information about this to be posted soon.

Monday, 15 April 2013

'A Nice Soft Day' in Radnorshire

Christopher Reid, Róisín Tierney and Martina Evans
outside the corporate HQ of Rack Press in Powys
There was a great turnout for the Rack Press reading in the church of St Michael, Discoed, Powys on Saturday 13th April.  The church was full and the poets were on top form: Rosalind Hudis, Angela Topping, Nicholas Murray, Christopher Reid, Róisín Tierney, and Martina Evans all read to a very appreciative audience and there was a party afterwards at The Rack, the Radnorshire cottage which is the home of Rack Press.  Never have so many poets assembled under that roof!

The Irish poets on the bill said that the drizzly but warmer spring day we had would have been called in Ireland: 'a nice soft day'.  And so it was.

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Radnor Readings

The snow has finally gone, the daffodils are struggling into bloom, the tiny lambs are on their feet, and the Rack Poets are in Radnorshire on Saturday afternoon at 3pm [see post below].  It looks like being a very special event and, who knows, the sun may shine.
St Michael's Discoed

Monday, 11 March 2013

Rack Poets in Radnorshire 13th April

Six of the Rack Poets will be reading on the home turf of the Press in Radnorshire in the Welsh Marches on Saturday 13th April.  The venue is the beautiful church of St Michael's Discoed situated almost on top of Offa's Dyke long distance footpath and only a mile from the base of Rack Press at Kinnerton in Powys.

Rosalind Hudis, Christopher Reid, Róisín Tierney, Martina Evans, Angela Topping and Nicholas Murray will be reading and the event begins at 3.00pm.  There is a small admission charge of £2 in aid of church restoration funds.

If you are in Mid Wales that weekend come along and enjoy some first rate poetry.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Rack Press poets launched in style

Rosalind Hudis reading flanked by (l to r) Rack Press publisher,
Nicholas Murray, and fellow poets Ian Pople, Ian Parks and
Susan Grindley at Lumen in Bloomsbury
The four new Rack Press poets of 2013, Susan Grindley, Rosalind Hudis, Ian Parks and Ian Pople read last night at Lumen in Bloomsbury from their new pamphlets.  All four read to a large and responsive audience in this very attractive venue and demonstrated that this year's quartet are particularly rich and enjoyable. You can order them by using the Paypal drop-down menu here and there are still some sets of the special offer of all four pamphlets signed by their authors and numbered, all for £15 the set instead of £20.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

London Launch 24th January

The 2013 series of Rack Press poetry pamphlets [see below for details] will be launched on Thursday 24th January at Lumen in Tavistock Place, London WC1 and all are welcome.

Admissions is free with refreshments and doors open at 18.30.  There will be readings at 19.00 and there will be plenty of opportunity to meet the poets, have pamphlets signed, and explore the full range of Rack Press poetry publications.  

Rack Poet Michèle Roberts reading at last year's launch event
This is an annual event in the poetry calendar and always proves to be a pleasant social occasion so don't miss it!

STOP PRESS: Rack Poets will be reading on the home turf of the Press on Saturday 13th April at the beautiful church at Discoed in the Welsh Marches.  More details to follow.