Clare Pollard on Self-Publishing and the Health of Poetry

Clare Pollard, via Silliman's blog: take in the comments as well.

Squeezed by the recession and the big buyers, the half-dozen major presses are only accepting one or two or no debuts each year. Poets can end up spending years just waiting for rejections from them. The next step can be to try a small press, but they are nearly all run out of love and at a loss – if you’re lucky enough to accepted by one of them it can mean a more beautiful and better edited book, but also often no advance or book-shop distribution, and little marketing. They also frequently (and understandably) fold. Until its announcement this week that it was ceasing to publish single-author collections, for the last decade many have seen Salt as the best option – they seemed somewhere in the middle, with enough presence to at least have a shot at getting your book into shops and on prize-lists, and were taking on lots of new writers. The news that their poetry publishing will now be slashed to a single annual anthology is terrible for British poets.I mean, their list is bursting with talent: a whole, brilliant generation. People like Luke Kennard, Antony Joseph, Mark Waldron, Chris McCabe, Katy Evans-Bush, Julia Bird, Sian Hughes, Melanie Challenger, Simon Barraclough, Jon Stone, Kirsty Irving, Amy Key, David Briggs, John McCullough, Tom Chivers, Antony Rowland, Liane Strauss, Amy De’Ath, Sophie Mayer, Tamar Yoseloff, Tony Williams, Anna Woodford, Abi Curtis, Rob A Mackenzie, Andrew Phillips and Tim Dooley (to mention just a fraction). Seriously, where are all these poets going to go? Why couldn’t Salt find an audience for such an embarrassment of talent? The Arts Council seems happy to pour funding into encouraging a glut of aspiring writers, but what exactly are they supposed to aspire to when poets of this quality find themselves without a publisher for their next book?

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