Report from Free Verse Book Fair

Blog / Tom Chivers

    Report from PITM Director Tom Chivers: I’ve just returned from a packed and buzzing Exmouth Market Hall for Free Verse, the poetry book fair organised by Charles Boyle of CB Editions with help from the ever-energetic Chrissy Williams and Anna-Mae Selby. Penned in the Margins gathered with over twenty poetry publishers and small presses […]

   

Report from PITM Director Tom Chivers:

I’ve just returned from a packed and buzzing Exmouth Market Hall for Free Verse, the poetry book fair organised by Charles Boyle of CB Editions with help from the ever-energetic Chrissy Williams and Anna-Mae Selby. Penned in the Margins gathered with over twenty poetry publishers and small presses in a defiant statement of grass-roots literary entrepreneurialism amidst the cuts that look set to, if they have not already, damage the cultural life of this country. The Poetry Book Society, stalwart of the British poetry scene since 1950something yet still, somehow victims of a 100% cut in funding from the Arts Council, were there. So was Salt‘s Chris Hamilton Emery, a real and relentless innovator. Nine Arches from the West Midlands, Carcanet from Manchester, Nii Parkes‘ dynamic Flipped Eye, new enterprises such as Sidekick Books and Ward Wood, experimental DIY presses such as zimZalla, and more besides.

   

Michael Horovitz opened proceedings, and there were readings throughout the day – rather wonderfully, these were tucked away two floors above the hall in a small classroom – it was a bizarre, mini-adventure just to find it. Gemma Seltzer and Siddhartha Bose read for Penned in the Margins – two completely different voices that I hope represent the diversity of styles you’ll find in our books and events. At one point during Sid’s set, the lights in the room suddenly went off. I had leant against the lightswitch of course. Genius.

   

We sold loads of books, which was fantastic, and what was particularly pleasing was that almost every book we’ve released sold at least one copy. Stress Fractures completely sold out, and Emily Critchley‘s Love / All That / & OK proved popular too. It was great having the opportunity to speak to people, recommend books to them, and talk about the press and how it’s developed in the last five years. It’s not something I get to do very often!

New contacts were made, and old friendships reaffirmed. Lovely to see the likes of Adam Horovitz, Nii Parkes, Katy Evans-Bush, Tammy Yoseloff, Chris Holifield, Judith Palmer (reinstated Poetry Society Director – woop!), Alex McDonald, Ben Borek, Christopher Reid, Tim Wells, Jody Porter, Roddy Lumsden, and the list goes on…

Thank you to Charles Boyle for his energy, charm and persistence in putting together such a positive and well-organised day. So here’s to Free Verse 2012 – ?

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