Rack Press ever impresses – Poetry Review
The consistently reliable Rack Press - Times Literary Supplement

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Launch of New Titles 2015

Four new Rack Press pamphlets for 2015 will be launched next Wednesday, 4th February in London when the Press is also celebrating 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


Hooligans
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.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

2015 Titles Available for Purchase NOW!

We are pleased to say that the new titles for 2015 (see previous post) are available for purchase now online using Paypal or if you prefer by post or from good independent booksellers like the London Review Bookshop.  Click on the Paypal Button here.

SPECIAL OFFER  A free mystery Rack Press pamphlet with every online order between now and 31 December.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

New Titles for 2015 soon to be published

Katrina Naomi signing the advance copies
of her new pamphlet, Hooligans.
Four new Rack pamphlets will be published officially on 4 February 2015 at our London launch and 10th Birthday Party but copies will be available for sale from next week.

The titles are:-

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.



Hooligans
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.


Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Rack Press Wins Michael Marks Award

Sue Murray (Rack Press), Geraint Morgan and
Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch at the Michael Marks Awards,
25 November at the British Library.
We are very pleased to say that we won the Michael Marks Award for Publisher of the Year  on 25th November at a ceremony at the British Library.  The Michael Marks Awards have become over the past few years the principal award for poetry pamphlet publishers in the UK and have played a major part in the current renaissance of this very special form of poetry publishing which unites experienced and debut poet.   Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch, whose excellent Rack Press pamphlet, Lime&Winter was shortlisted for the individual pamphlet award (and which can be ordered online here) gave a characteristically spirited and accomplished reading from the pamphlet. The eventual winner of this category was Laura Scott for What I Saw (Rialto).

Rack Press publisher, Nicholas Murray, speaking at the Awards said:

Rack Press is a Welsh poetry imprint that next year celebrates its 10th birthday when we will have published 34 poets.  We are planning for 2015 readings, events and a full programme of new pamphlets.  It promises to be an exciting year for the Press.

Our philosophy is to publish high quality, well-crafted poetry in attractively designed editions and to ensure that we always publish side by side experienced poets and debut collections and that we have equal numbers of male and female poets.  

We favour poetry that engages with the world of politics and current events as well as lyric poetry and, as the only Welsh pamphlet publisher ever to have been shortlisted in any category since the inception of this Award, we take very seriously our commitment to Wales and to the Welsh poetry and cultural scene.

Like most poetry publishers we have found that we have to work harder than ever to maintain sales.  There is an interesting mathematical relationship between the increase in the numbers of people writing poetry and the numbers of people buying it.

This year we published six pamphlets, and launched a new venture of short prose books under the imprint Rack Press Editions, the first title of which, Bloomsbury and the Poets, described by The Spectator as ‘a delight’, has sold well and has provided the Press with a welcome extra revenue stream.

Rack Press has taken part in readings in Wales and elsewhere and we are keen to do everything we can to widen the audience for serious poetry.

In the end our publishing philosophy is about bringing quality work to the attention of as many people as possible, in attractive form, with an emphasis on craft, and with a belief in the poetry pamphlet not as a ‘nursery slope’ publication nor as a sideline for established poets but as a significant genre in its own right that presents coherent short collections, themed sequences, and individual long poems in a perfectly satisfying format.


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Colin Matthews, Christopher Reid and Rack Press

We are pleased to see that the new CD, No Man's Land, by Colin Matthews from Hallé has appeared and it contains the piece composed to words by Christopher Reid published as a Rack Press pamphlet in 2011 (sadly now out of print but reproduced in Christopher's 2012 Faber collection, Nonsense).  In some interesting programme notes to the CD which I am sure Colin will not mind our reproducing here, he explains the background to the piece:-

"No Man’s Land follows on from my very positive collaboration with Christopher Reid on Alphabicycle Order 2 several years ago. The origin of the work was a call from Richard Hickox in November 2008, full of his usual bubbly enthusiasm and proposing a Proms commission to celebrate the City of London Sinfonia’s 40th birthday in 2011. Like everyone, I was shocked to learn of his sudden death three days later. Richard conducted my first ever Proms performance, in 1983, and clearly the work had both to be written in his memory and take a different direction from his original suggestion of a celebratory work.  I have been obsessed with the First World War for many years, long before the centenary of its outbreak came into view (one reason being that my maternal grandfather died on the Somme). But it is no easy subject to treat musically. Although I set Edmund Blunden in Aftertones I have avoided trying to set other war poets, particularly with the example of Britten and Wilfred Owen in mind. When I asked Christopher Reid to provide the text for this work I suggested the concept of a soldier in the midst of war, almost unaware of what he’s found himself a part of. In the event his sequence of poems provided something both different and unexpected: we hear the ghosts of two soldiers hanging on barbed wire in no man’s land. ‘To pass the time, we let the wind/rummage in the hollows of our skulls/for memories and scraps of song and wisps of rhyme’. Although there are elements of dialogue in the piece, and towards they end they sing together, they see the war for the most part through different eyes. The reflective Captain Gifford is contrasted with the moredown-to-earth Sergeant Slack both by language and by the music they sing, with the sergeant’s music embracing both an invented vernacular and original songs and marches from the period, including recordings made in 1914."
Colin Matthews © 2011/2014