Indie publisher Penned in the Margins tops Poetry Book Society Winter Selections

Blog / Tom Chivers

Penned in the Margins stablemates and two of Britain’s most exciting poets, Raymond Antrobus and Chris McCabe, have been selected for a prestigious list that shows independent poetry publishing to be in fine form.

The Poetry Book Society’s Winter season of selections has been announced. The Choice – the book that is automatically sent to their 1,000+ subscribers – has been awarded to Raymond Antrobus‘s hotly anticipated debut, The Perseverance. Their list of Recommendations includes The Triumph of Cancer, the fifth collection by Chris McCabe. Both are published by Penned in the Margins, a small literary publisher and arts producer based in east London. Director Tom Chivers says, “There is no better early praise for a poetry collection than to be selected by the Poetry Book Society. I’m absolutely thrilled for Ray and Chris, both poets of grace, complexity and invention who deserve to be read very widely indeed.”

All but two of the books on the PBS list are published by small, independent presses outside of the poetry ‘big five’. Also recommended are Carrie Etter’s The Weather in Normal (Seren), Roy McFarlane’s The Healing Next Time (Nine Arches Press) and Kathleen Jamie’s Selected Poems (Picador). John Agard’s The Coming of the Little Green Man (Bloodaxe) gets a Special Commendation and Sophie Robinson’s Rabbit (Boiler House Press) is the Wild Card.

 

 

The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus (1st October, paperback, £9.99) is one of the year’s most highly anticipated debuts. His poems range across history and continents, operating in the spaces in between and creating new, hybrid territories. Kaveh Akbar says, ‘it’s magic, the way this poet is able to bring together so much—deafness, race, masculinity, a mother’s dementia, a father’s demise—with such dexterity.’ Born in Hackney to an English mother and Jamaican father, Raymond Antrobus has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Complete Works and Jerwood Compton Poetry. He has had multiple residencies in deaf and hearing schools around London, as well as Pupil Referral Units. In 2018 he was awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer Award by the Poetry Society (judged by Ocean Vuong). Malika Booker says, ‘These are courageous autobiographical poems of praise, difficulties, testimony and love.’

The Triumph of Cancer by Chris McCabe (6th November, paperback, £9.99) is a powerful new collection in which the writer returns to the site of personal trauma to confront the disease head on. Against a backdrop of Trump, terror and cancerous global politics, these poems move with lyric grace and surgical precision. Elegies for family members, poets and musicians mingle with celebrations of the transitory in the natural world. Chris McCabe is a critically acclaimed writer who also holds a high-profile position as Poetry Librarian at the National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre. This collection shows him at the height of his powers: dextrous, darkly comic and a true original.

The Poetry Book Society was set up by T S Eliot and friends in 1953 ‘to propagate the art of poetry’. It is a unique poetry book club, delivering the best new poetry books straight to members’ doors. Every quarter their Poet Selectors choose the best new poetry books to send to members hot off the press before they reach the high street bookshops.

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