About us

Penned in the Margins creates publications and performances for people who are not afraid to take risks.

We believe in the power of language to challenge how we think, test new ideas and explore alternative stories. We operate across the arts, collaborating with writers, artists and creative partners using new platforms and technologies.



What we do

From small beginnings as a reading series in a converted railway arch in south London, Penned in the Margins has grown over the last decade to be a respected literary arts company producing new work live, in print and online. This unique blend of publishing and production characterises our distinctive model in the cultural landscape. The hallmarks of a Penned in the Margins book or event are curiosity, innovation and openness. As poet and broadcaster Ian McMillan says,

Penned in the Margins is a marvellously exciting venture, bringing together the worlds of experimentalism and performance, always looking for new ways to present the spoken word in a time of artistic flux. The mainstream will, in the future, be redefined and enriched by companies like Penned in the Margins.

Collaboration is at the heart of what we do, bringing artists from different fields together to create innovative and invigorating new work. We have a history of developing new and young artists and writers, and have given important early opportunities to the likes of Hannah Silva, Joe Dunthorne, Inua Ellams and Scroobius Pip.


Live productions

We create and promote a wide range of productions: from bespoke literary salons to touring theatre shows, and from performance lectures to site-specific audio tours. Our pioneering live literature productions have been presented at major UK venues and festivals such as the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room, Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and the Sage Gateshead, and toured as far as India and Brazil. Our largest ever production Fair Field - a site-specific, multi-artform re-imagining of the medieval poem Piers Plowman - will be staged in Ledbury & London in 2017.

We are a proud member of STAMP, the network of London theatre organisations supporting emerging theatre and performance makers. Find out more.


Literary publishing

Our dynamic, risk-taking publishing list numbers over sixty publications across poetry, experimental fiction and literary non-fiction, and includes award-winning books such as The Shipwrecked House by Claire Trevien, Adventures in Form, The Good Dark by Ryan Van Winkle and Holophin by Luke Kennard. In 2015 our first full-length novella, Midland by Honor Gavin, was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize. Recent poetry publications include Sunshine by Melissa Lee-Houghton – shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award, Forward Prize for Best Single Poem & Ted Hughes Award – and Cain by Luke Kennard, which won a British Book Design & Production Award and was shortlisted for the 2017 International Dylan Thomas Prize.



Penned in the Margins was selected a National Portfolio Organisation by Arts Council England for 2015-18.From _





Shortlisted, Dylan Thomas Prize 2017 |Cain by Luke Kennard
Shortlisted, Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2016 | Sunshine
Shortlisted, Costa Poetry Prize 2016 | Sunshine by Melissa Lee-Houghton
Winner, British Book Design & Production Awards 2016 | Cain by Luke Kennard
Shortlisted, Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2016 | Melissa Lee-Houghton
Shortlisted, East Anglian Book Awards 2016 | What I Learned from Johnny Bevan
Best Novella, Saboteur Awards 2016 | The Lost Art of Sinking by Naomi Booth
Best Spoken Word Show, Saboteur Awards 2016 | What I Learned from Johnny Bevan
Saltire Society Poetry Book of the Year 2015 | The Good Dark by Ryan Van Winkle
Most Innovative Publisher, Saboteur Awards 2015
Longlisted, Medicine Unboxed Prize 2015 | The Hard Word Box by Sarah Hesketh
Shortlisted, Gordon Burn Prize 2015 | Midland by Honor Gavin
Next Generation Poet 2014 | Beautiful Girls by Melissa Lee-Houghton
Most Innovative Publisher, Saboteur Awards 2013
Shortlisted, Ted Hughes Award 2013 | Total Man by Hannah Silva
Longlisted, Guardian First Book Award 2013 | The Shipwrecked House by Claire Trévien
Recommendation, Poetry Book Society 2013 | Beautiful Girls by Melissa Lee-Houghton
Best Novella, Saboteur Awards 2013 | Holophin by Luke Kennard
Recommended Translation, Poetry Book Society 2013 | Beowulf by Meghan Purvis
Special Commendation, Poetry Book Society 2012 | Adventures in Form



Who we are

Tom Chivers, Director

Tom Chivers is a writer and literary arts producer. His books include Dark Islands (Test Centre, 2015), How To Build A City (Salt, 2009) and The Terrors (Nine Arches, 2009; shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award). He has edited several anthologies including Adventures in Form (Penned in the Margins, 2012). In 2009 he presented a documentary about the poet Barry MacSweeney for BBC Radio 4. He received an Eric Gregory Award in 2011, and was shortlisted for the Edwin Morgan Prize in 2014. Tom was co-Director of London Word Festival from its inception in 2008 until 2011, and was a recipient of a Breakthrough Award from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. He commissioned and produced a range of work including The 14th Tale by Inua Ellams, Hackney Ascension Day by Iain Sinclair and site-specific murder mystery The Crash. Tom has worked on a variety of arts projects with organisations such as the Poetry Society, Writers’ Centre Norwich, Arvon Foundation and Free Word Centre, where he was Digital Editor 2011-12. He was a board member of the Poetry Book Society 2009-2013, and is currently a board member of Inpress Books.


James Trevelyan, Sales & Marketing Co-ordinator


James Trevelyan grew up in the Midlands and now lives in South London. He has worked in several roles on a number of projects in literature organisations including The Poetry Society, Forward Arts Foundation, the Poetry School, Poetry Book Society & T S Eliot Foundation. As a writer he has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway and poems in various magazines and anthologies including Best New British & Irish Poets 2017. His debut pamphlet, DISSOLVE to: L.A., was published by the Emma Press in March 2016.

Associate Artists

Siddhartha Bose, Hannah Silva, Ross Sutherland

Creative Associates

Russell Bender, Nick Murray

Advisory Board

Chris Baker, Paul Cann, Oliver Dawson, Rose Fenton, Julia Payne, Natasha Tripney




There are currently no vacancies.

We regret to say that we are unable to offer work experience or internship opportunities.



Manuscript submissions

We accept unsolicited submissions for our publishing programme. Please see our submissions guidelines.


At the forefront of exploring what live literature, spoken word – whatever you wish to call it – can and could be

The Stage

Good news for poetry

The Times

The Brian Eno of the poetry publishing world

Selected Poems

An independent one stop shop for exciting literary publications and events

For Books Sake

Cracking (and frequently cutting-edge) live lit events


Each book that comes out of the PITM stable is perfectly packaged, of a super high quality and guaranteed to make readers think a little differently

Reader, Saboteur Awards

Exactly the kind of work that needs to be done ... neither declarative nor factional

SJ Fowler