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

Sunday, 8 November 2015

A Discussion About the State of Poetry

You are most welcome to join us at the Poetry Cafe in London on 18th November (18.30; free admission) for a panel discussion based on Jeremy Noel-Tod's new book from Rack Press Editions: The Whitsun Wedding Video: a journey into British poetry. Jeremy will be joined by poets Emily Berry and Amy Key and the panel will be chaired by Nicholas Murray publisher of Rack Press.  A lively debate will take place we hope.

If you can't make the 18th November it is possible to order now from this site now using Paypal (see adjacent panel) or from any good bookseller.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

The Whitsun Wedding Video: A Journey into British Poetry

We are pleased to announce the publication on 30th October of the latest Rack Press Edition by Jeremy Noel-Tod: The Whitsun Wedding Video: a journey into British poetry.

A hundred years after the publication of T S Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’ one of Britain’s brightest and sharpest poetry critics, Jeremy Noel-Tod, takes contemporary British poetry to task for its failure to match the ambition of the great modernists such as Eliot. This witty and incisive book ‘about how reputations have been made in modern British poetry and may be remade’ challenges received opinion about contemporary verse. ‘Rumours persist that excellent poetry is being written by poets who are not venerable names rehearsing old themes,’ the author reports in an essay certain to create controversy in the world of poetry.

Jeremy Noel-Tod lives in Norwich where he teaches Literature and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. Since 2000 he has reviewed poetry for a wide range of national publications, including the Guardian, the Daily Telegraph, the New Statesman, and The Sunday Times. He is the editor of R.F. Langley’s Complete Poems (Carcanet, 2015) and was the revising editor of the Oxford Companion to Modern Poetry (2013), previously published as the Oxford Companion to Twentieth Century Poetry (1994), ed. Ian Hamilton.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Poetry in Presteigne: Less than a fortnight to go

A few of our East Radnor neighbours
The brand new Welsh poetry festival, Poetry in Presteigne, opens on Friday 16th October in the lovely town of Presteigne, Powys, already famous for its annual music festival.  There is a rich programme of readings, events, performances, music and art so book now at www.poetryinpresteigne.com.  Today the autumn weather is glorious in East Radnor, the part of Powys where Presteigne is located, so as well as the poetry there is excellent walking and scenery to make a weekend stay a break to remember.  The full programme is on the website.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

The Poetry Book Fair 2015

The Conway Hall around mid-afternoon and heaving
Rack would like to thank all the people who came to Saturday's Poetry Book Fair in London's Conway Hall and who stopped by our stall for a chat or a purchase.  It was a huge turnout and we are pleased to have sold so many pamphlets. If you weren't able to be there and want to order any Rack Press titles you can do so here.

Rack publisher Nicholas Murray

Friday, 4 September 2015

A New Poetry Festival: Poetry in Presteigne 16-18 October

Rack Press is looking forward to taking part in the brand new Welsh poetry festival, Poetry in Presteigne over the weekend of 16-18 October. This new festival in Mid Wales is now open for booking and events include "Tango in Stanzas", poet Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch's collaboration with Tango dancer Peter Baldock; an evening with National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke; a reading by Paul Henry; poetry and blues with Hollow Log; and readings from poets published by Flarestack, Cinnamon, and Rack Press; and much else.  Roger Garfitt, Edward Storey, Jan Fortune, Steve Griffiths, Ros Hudis, Jacqui Rowe, Meredith Andrea, Fiona Owen, Susan Richardson, and John Barnie are some of the poets appearing across the weekend

Rack will be fielding poets Nicky Arscott and Anna Lewis whose new pamphlets appeared this summer (and which can be purchased online here) and Rack publisher Nicholas Murray will be talking about animal poetry with readings.

Book now!

The Radnor Forest, near Presteigne, Powys

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Poem of the Week: Nicky Arscott

This week's poem is taken from Nicky Arscott's Rack pamphlet, Soft Mutation, which can be ordered here.

Cheap Flights to Goa

The Israeli on her bodyboard again.
Alan licks his lips – fixed on the back and forth –
then misses his mouth with his straw.
Deeply embedded in cocktail hour
my toes clench sand – Alan’s horny old toes
attach too, like to the lining of a womb –
there are two types of person in this world: 
them who can, and them who couldn’t 
get a hard-on in a brothel, says Alan
sucking loudly. The Israeli girl is hiding 
from the army. But which one are you. 
The willing suspension of virility. 
The Arabian Sea is heaven. 
In a minute, a coconut will fall on Alan’s head –
killing him outright – and I will be unhappy
not to have got this sorted. The girl comes onto 
land, her lovely cheek still resting on the board. 
But which one are you, I say again – it is difficult 
to peel away our eyes: her hair it spreads out
blackly on the sand. The waiter brings another round, this time 
without umbrellas. A thwacking through the palms. 

The skinny boys are pulling in their nets.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Poem of the Week: Anna Lewis

This week's poem taken from a recent collection is from Anna Lewis's pamphlet published in July, The Blue Cell, a sequence of poems exploring the lives of a number of early medieval Welsh saints.  Melangell, who fled from Ireland to Powys to escape an unwanted marriage here shelters a hare from hunters.  Hares are a rarer sight than they were but they are still seen occasionally, and we sometimes see them near to the home of Rack Press in Powys.

The Blue Cell can be ordered here for immediate dispatch, £5 post-free.


Its heart was quick against her thigh,
then slowed.  She felt the hitching rhythm
of its ribs subside, kept her own breath 

as she heard the dogs pant close, 
their narrow bodies slit the bracken.  
Birds swung up from the slope

and marked the line of their approach;
the saplings shook, then from the trees 
poured horses, men in red and gold.  

And it was the same as the day 
she first stepped onto the sea,
handed herself to the waves 

and to the will of God: brash sunlight 
thrown back, the green earth 
tipping under her feet.  Not so much 

bravery, not so much faith 
as a small, dull light that scratched 
into life in her chest, then grew

until she could not see around its edge.  
Beyond, there was quiet.  The hare
dropped its head to its paws, and slept.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Rack Poets at Ledbury and an Interview

Damian Walford Davies, AC Bevan and
SamanthaWynne-Rhydderch at a Rack reading in
Presteigne, Powys earlier this year
Thank you to the Poetry School for publishing an interview with Rack Press where we tell it like it is, we hope!

And don't forget 4th July at the Ledbury Poetry Festival where poets Nicky Arscott and Anna Lewis were due to launch their new collections, respectively Soft Mutation and The Blue Cell.  Unfortunately Anna can't be there for family reasons so AC Bevan will be reading with Nicky at lunchtime on that Saturday.  Do come along and hear two original and lively poets and the two new titles can now be ordered here online.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Talking about Edward Thomas 17 June

I will be talking to Jean Moorcroft Wilson, author of a new biography of Edward Thomas, at an event at the London Review Bookshop on 17th June.

I leave you with a quotation from his fragment of autobiography The Childhood of Edward Thomas (1938) where he describes himself as “a citizen’s son of London in the ‘eighties of the nineteenth century".  Reading that book and the biography one realises how much this great celebrant of the English and Welsh countryside was a child of the south London suburbs (and explicitly saw himself as such).

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

New Pamphlet from David Harsent and Fiona Sampson

Launched today at the Wandsworth Heritage Festival in London at 7pm in Southfields Library, a new pamphlet by David Harsent and Fiona Sampson, Address Book is the outcome of a creative encounter between two leading British poets and the rich archival resources of Wandsworth Heritage Service.

Here are residents Florence Turtle, a book-buyer for the leading West End stores; the poet Edward Thomas; a teenager, Shirley Hitchings, and her poltergeist; and the poets Algernon Swinburne and Theodore Watts-Dunton.  Their addresses are the starting point for a series of fascinating and original poems.

Address Book is a collaboration between the London Borough of Wandsworth Heritage Service and the Roehampton Poetry Centre and is sponsored by the University of Roehampton and the Heritage Service of the Borough in which the university stands. The pamphlet has been produced for the Wandsworth Heritage Festival just opened and its authors are the Chair and the Director, respectively, of the University of Roehampton Poetry Centre.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Rack Poets in Powys

Four Rack poets will be reading next Monday 13th April at the sign of the Red Parrot, the reading series in Presteigne, Powys, home of Rack Press.

A.C.Bevan, Damian Walford Davies, Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch and Nicholas Murray will be reading at 7.30 at the No 46 Wine Bar in Presteigne High Street.

If you can't make the reading you can buy the pamphlets here using the Paypal button.

We look forward to seeing you on a lovely spring evening in the Welsh Marches on Monday.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Poem of the Week: Damian Walford Davies

Today's Poem of the Week taken from one of the pamphlet collections launched this year by Rack Press is Commission by Damian Walford Davies from his collection Alabaster Girls which you can order here using Paypal.

Damian Walford Davies reading at last month's
launch in London

Suffolk, 1650

I was in the graveyard, islanded
by creeks, parsing deep botched

cuts that pass for epitaphs. 
Horses drummed their piss 

on clumps of woundwort – 
so loud, the troopers laying

statues on the fire turned to look.
Stare long enough, the tower’s

flintwork will bewilder you. Gilt
paint burns especially. He called me

from the porch, framed by gargoyles
and the Lamb, bitter ramsons

mixed with sweetish smoke.
My sergeant rose among the reeds,

a tan bird mewing in his gloves.
The church was cool; their eyes

were hammering at three angels
on the roof. I wrapped the balls

inside a paper patch and shot,
walked out decked in golden dust.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Poem of the Week: Katrina Naomi

Each week in March we are featuring a poem from one of the new Rack pamphlets published in 2015 and this week the chosen poem is from Katrina Naomi's collection Hooligans. You can order it now from this site using the Paypal button (£5).  "Hooligans" was a term used against the suffragettes by their opponents.

Katrina Naomi (centre) with friends at the launch
last month in London of Hooligans

Special Delivery

23 February 1909 from West Strand Post Office to 10 Downing St, SW

What a shock for the postie,
one woman, then two
human letters – 

Elspeth McClelland and Daisy Soloman –
addressed to Mr Asquith,
a threepenny stamp like a small tattoo

on each hand, as they walked,
too large to be perched
on the delivery boy’s basket;

words indelibly printed in their mouths,
which just needed to be opened,
their contents clear 

from both women’s signatures –
the way each spoke when angry.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Poem of the Week: A.C.Bevan

Each week in March we are featuring a poem from one of the new Rack pamphlets published in 2015 and this week the chosen poem is from A.C. Bevan's collection, De'ath & Daughters. You can order it now from this site using the Paypal button (£5).


 …peeled the apple before she ate it, 
cored & pared & separated 
into bite-size halves & quarters, pipped 
& pitted, & destalked it.

Then she named it: Golden Russet,
Maiden’s Blush, Sweet Delicious,
Adams Pearmain, Yellow Tremlett’s.
Made her pies & crumbles, pressed it
into pomace, sauce, fermented 
juices, sparkling wines of moonshine,
applejack & scrumpy cider.
& after several pints of snakebite,
danced stark naked & debauchèd 
with a serpent through the orchard.


A.C. Bevan reading from his new collection at the Rack
Press launch in London last month
Photo: Paul Bevan

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Poem of the Week: Fiona Pitt-Kethley

Opal Menilite from Agramón
Each week in March we will be featuring a poem from one of our newly published 2015 pamphlet collections.  To order the pamphlets click on the Paypal button on the top right hand corner of this page.

The first poem is from Fiona Pitt-Kethley's pamphlet
Mineral Adventures (£5)

The Opal Menilites of Agramón

Fiona Pitt-Kethley
Bright yellow broomrape bursting from the clay,
close to the minerals we’re searching for.
Nothing’s what you’d expect in Agramón.

Blue-grey on grey at first they look discreet
and crisp as sugared almonds in the walls
until we marvel at their varied forms.
This quarry’s the sex-shop of the mineral scene:
Willendorf Venuses, testicles, dicks
beside more toy-like marbles, skittles, ducks
and half-formed pre-pubescent young girls’ breasts.

A heavenly jest, perhaps. Exuberant,
tumescent, waiting in their matrixes.
If stones could speak these ones would say to me:
“Release us on an unsuspecting world…”

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Launch of New Titles 2015

Eleven of the 33 Rack Press Poets at the London
launch of the new series of pamphlets
Four new Rack Press pamphlets for 2015 were launched on Wednesday, 4th February in London when the Press also celebrated its 10th birthday at the Art Workers' Guild in Bloomsbury. The new quartet, we hope, is as rich a mix as ever and all can be purchased here from our Paypal button (£5 each, free postage) or at independent booksellers (Amazon has decided to list small press poetry publications as "not available" so of course don't use them!).

Here is a link to Fiona Pitt-Kethley reading a poem from her new Rack collection, Mineral Adventures.

De’Ath & Daughters 
by A.C. Bevan

A C Bevan’s poems have appeared in numerous magazines, anthologies and newspapers in the UK, Europe and the US.  He is the author of three pamphlet collections to date, and lives and works in Bristol. The poems in this collection explore sex, love and death through the ages. These are tales of some of the great heroines of folklore, myth and history retold for our modern age.
“Terrifically witty”
Don Paterson
 “Elegant and – to me – mysterious poems. And funny.”  –
Roger McGough
 “Takes us with him all the way, in a breathless trajectory to a perfectly timed ending.”  –  Bristol Review of Books

by Katrina Naomi

Katrina Naomi wrote Hooligans after learning that her great-grandmother was involved with the Women’s Social and Political Union – one of the more militant Suffragette movements. Hooligans considers the nature of women’s, and occasionally men’s, protests for the vote, ranging from violent demonstrations and window breaking, to imprisonment and force feeding.

Katrina is completing a PhD at Goldsmiths in creative writing, with a focus on violence in poetry, and teaches at Falmouth University. Her previous collections include The Girl with the Cactus Handshake, which was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award and Lunch at the Elephant & Castle, which won the Templar Poetry Pamphlet Competition.

Alabaster Girls
by Damian Walford Davies

The poems in Alabaster Girls weigh up the ‘supple heft’ of bodies – erotic, stony, planetary and spiritual, confronting both ‘the cant of the machine’ and ‘the telemetry of love’.  Alabaster Girls ‘tartly confronts the world’s cruelties, revealing the unsettling proximity between guns and golden dust’.
Damian Walford Davies was born in 1971. He teaches at Cardiff University. His co-authored collection, Whiteout, appeared in 2006. Suit of Lights (a Wales Literature Exchange ‘Bookshelf’ Choice) was published in 2009, followed by Witch in 2012. Judas will appear in 2015. His collections are published by Seren.

Mineral Adventures
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley

Fiona Pitt-Kethley is the author of more than twenty prose and poetry books. Since 2002 she has been living in Spain with her husband, grandmaster James Plaskett and their son Alex. She lives close to the Sierra Minera and became an avid collector of stones, joining a local society and going on excursions with them. Mineral Adventures is based around various, mostly rare, minerals and the places where they are found. Minerals often have a unique form peculiar to a particular place. You only realise this when you start to collect. The poems seek to portray the rarities of the minerals and the places they come from.
"She is a dedicated poet, getting better all the time.” – A.N.Wilson

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Susan Grindley

Rack Press was very sad to learn of the death on 4th December of Susan Grindley, a fine poet and a great friend and supporter of Rack Press whose pamphlet, New Reader we published in 2013.  We were with her when she read at Ledbury Poetry Festival, the Wheatsheaf in Soho, the Poetry Book Fair in Red Lion Square and other venues. We are very pleased to publish below a brief tribute from some of her close friends:-

Susan Grindley

Many of you will have heard the sad news that Susan Grindley died on 4th December 2014.  Her pamphlet New Reader (published by Rack Press in 2013) was praised for its elegance and craft.  Susan began writing poetry in 1997, when she joined Michael Donaghy’s Word Shop at City University. She became an active and enthusiastic participant in the London poetry scene, as both a performer and a supporter of others, making many lasting friendships. 

Susan was a founder member of The Group, based at The Poetry Society. She was well read in poetry as well as in wider literature and could spontaneously offer a quote or a useful reference. Other members of the group were impressed by Susan’s ability to give constructive, informed criticism. Her poem, ‘Gobby Deegan’s Riposte’, became the title poem of the pamphlet that The Group produced in 2004 and has delighted audiences at numerous readings. Susan performed her work regularly in London poetry venues and was also well known on the Essex poetry circuit, reading at the Essex Poetry Festival. She built up a reputation as a skilled and meticulous poet, attaining an impressive range of poetry successes and awards. Many of her poems have been published in magazines, such as Magma, Poetry News, and South Bank Poetry and on-line, in Limelight and Nth Position.  The title poem of New Reader was highly commended in the Larkin and East Riding Poetry Competition in 2011 and she was also highly commended in The Edwin Morgan Poetry Competition. She was invited to read her work at The Edinburgh Book Festival and the Ledbury Poetry Festival. 

Most recently, she featured in the pamphlet Sounds of the Front Bell (Stonewood Press 2014).  A review in London Grip points to the poignancy of Susan’s poem, in which she likens Victoria Park to a Chinese landscape:
                      Next stop, I’m getting off the bus
                      By the time it pulls away
                      I shall have disappeared in my grey coat.
                      Look for my red shoes half way up the picture.
She will be immensely missed by those who knew and loved her and by her audience of poetry readers.

by June Lausch, Valerie Josephs and Annie Freud.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Rack Press "Small Press Publisher of the Month" at the London Review Bookshop

We are very pleased that the London Review Bookshop has selected us as Small Press Publisher of the Month in January.  The LRB shop is our favourite London bookshop and the best place in fact to buy our publications.  Here is what the Shop's poetry specialist, the excellent John Clegg, himself a very fine poet, writes on the LRB blog:-

Probably it’s best for small presses to aim at doing one thing really well. Rack Press, run by the indomitable Nick and Sue Murray, has for ten years coming up this February produced lively, interesting poetry pamphlets in identical grey-beige covers. Four pamphlets are released at the start of each year; the bookshop has just taken delivery of the new batch, with titles from Fiona Pitt-Kethley (Mineral Adventures, an account of building up a stone collection which is much more exciting than it sounds), Damian Walford Davies (Alabaster Girls, whose high point is an excellent poem in couplets about a foolish attempt to break the land-speed record), Katrina Naomi (Hooligans, a family memoir of the Suffragettes) and A C Bevan (De’Ath and Daughters, which I’ve been desperate to read since seeing him in the shop for the launch of Magma 61, and which doesn’t disappoint).

Rack’s back catalogue is full of good bits. Katy Evans-Bush’s Oscar and Henry is a dramatic monologue double-act from Wilde and James; David Harsent’s Songs for the Same Earth was set to music by Harrison Birtwistle, and presents a subtly different text to the one eventually collected in last year’s Fire Songs (Faber and Faber). Ian Parks’s The Cavafy Variations are some of the best passes through the impossible-to-translate poet I’ve seen, and Richard Price’s ‘improvisations’ on the French renaissance poet Louise Labé (Lute Variations) are also thoroughly worth the price of admission. I think my favourite of their pamphlets so far, though, is David Kennedy’s Mistral – working in the genre Peter Riley has identified as modern French pastoral, the poems seem simultaneously open and reticent, quibbling and broadminded, likeable without fawning.
The press has had a very good year, winning the Michael Marks Award for Best Poetry Publisher. (Samantha Wynne Rhyderrch’s Rack publication Lime and Winter was also shortlisted for Best Pamphlet.) In their citation, the judges praised Rack’s ‘elegant simple design’ as well as ‘their mix of experienced poets and new voices, and the way their work engages with the world’. To which we say, yes yes very good, and may they keep on going for another ten years. All Rack’s 2015 pamphlets, plus all the pamphlets from their back catalogue which are still in print and a few which aren’t, are available from the London Review Bookshop at £5 a pop.