Adventures in poetry
(Top: l-r Jacqueline Saphra, Kate Fox, Khairani Barokka, Lewis Buxton
Middle: l-r Angela France, Daniel Sluman, Katie Griffiths, Ian Humphreys
Bottom: l-r Caleb Parkin, Jane Burn, Shaun Hill, Cynthia Miller)
Midlands-based independent poetry publisher Nine Arches Press will publish its 100th publication – and presents an ambitious list of twelve new collections of poetry in 2021. The list embraces themes from climate crisis and coronavirus, neurodiversity and disability, queer eco-poetics, belonging and loss, masculinity and mental health, amongst many other topics in books from both debut and established poets.
Marking their 100th publication will be a special limited-edition of acclaimed poet Jacqueline Saphra’s 100 Lockdown Sonnets – a poetic journal that chronicles the personal and political upheavals and tragedies of the coronavirus pandemic in a sequence of sonnets charting the experience of one hundred days of lockdown. The poems will be printed in a limited number of just 100 hardbacks and will be available in January as a not-for-profit special edition, with all proceeds going to charity.
February will see publication of The Oscillations by Kate Fox, poet and broadcaster, which also touches on personal experiences of the pandemic and looks at experiences of distance and isolation through a refracted lens of neurodiversity. Kate is based in Northern England and has made comedy series for Radio 4 and written and performed on Radio 3’s The Verb and Radio 4’s Saturday Live, and is winner of the Andrew Waterhouse Award for poetry from New Writing North in 2006.
Nine Arches Press will lead into spring with Ultimatum Orangutan, a collection focused on environmental crises, disability, and colonial legacies by acclaimed poet and academic Khairani Barokka. Okka has been Modern Poetry in Translation's Inaugural Poet-in-Residence and is currently an Associate Artist at the National Centre for Writing (Norwich), as well as Researcher-in-Residence and Research Fellow at UAL’s Decolonising Arts Institute.
This is followed by three much-anticipated, ambitious and distinctive debuts from poets who were previous selected poets for Nine Arches’ Primers mentoring scheme – Katie Griffiths in April with The Attitudes, Lewis Buxton in May with Boy in Various Poses, and in June, Cynthia Miller with her collection Honorific. The Primers scheme, established in 2015 by Nine Arches Press and the Poetry School to bring talented emerging voices in poetry into the spotlight, has now resulted in sixteen new poets being published across the Primers series.
Established poets will also return with new collections, including Cheltenham’s Angela France with a powerful new collection Terminarchy in July, following her book and multi-media poetry show The Hill (2016). Poet and disability activist Daniel Sluman will publish single window in September, a unique book of hybridity and experimentation, exploring the realities of disabled experience. Autumn will also see Shaun Hill, a queer writer exploring post-capitalist ways of being, publish his debut, warm blooded things. The recipient of an Apples and Snakes | Jerwood Arts Poetry in Performance Award in 2020, Shaun is also the first poet published by Nine Arches from alumni of their Dynamo mentoring scheme, which supports and nurtures diverse talent in the West Midlands.
A much-anticipated debut collection of queer eco-poetry, This Fruiting Body, will be published in October with newly-appointed Bristol City Poet Laureate Caleb Parkin, and will be followed in November by Be Feared by Jane Burn, a poet and illustrator based in the northeast, whose poems explore nature, mythology, sexuality, and self-discovery through a late diagnosis of Autism.
The year will close in November with a further instalment in Nine Arches’ highly-popular creative writing handbook series, following on from 2019’s bestseller The Craft (edited by Rishi Dastidar) and 2017’s How to be a Poet (by Jo Bell and Jane Commane), with poet Ian Humphreys editing Why I Write Poetry – essays and writing exercises that highlight how some our best-known and up-and-coming poets got started, what motivates them to keep going, and offering their best advice to aspiring writers.
Nine Arches Press, a regional shortlistee for The British Book Awards’ Small Press of the Year 2019, achieved Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation status in 2018, and were fortunate to be awarded additional emergency funding in 2020 which has enabled them to adapt and continue their work throughout the pandemic. During this time, Nine Arches have taken live events and publicity online, especially through their popular series of author launches, livecast to YouTube.
Jane Commane, editor and director at Nine Arches Press, commented that:
“2020 has been a challenging year for many independent publishers, but we’re looking ahead and moving into 2021 with an extraordinary list of poets and books and with hope, determination, and a renewed sense that readers especially are seeking adventurous, thought-provoking and pertinent new poetry to help make sense of the chaotic world around us. We place our poets and their valued audiences and readerships at the heart of our work as an independent publisher, and it’s ever more important to continue to do so. Our digital events have played a key part of this throughout the pandemic, and we are keen to continue to bring new voices in poetry to our readers’ attention as well as to their bookshelves and screens – and we look forward to a time when we can return to audiences in person, too.”
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