Writewords talks to Hamish Ironside, of Anvil Press Poetry, one of the leading publishers of contemporary poetry.
What's Anvil's background? Can you tell us all about Anvil and how it began?
Anvil was founded in 1968 by Peter Jay, who continues to run the press to this day, with two other full-time staff. These days Anvil publishes an average of 12 new titles a year, of which some will be original English language poetry and others will be poetry in translation.
Who do you publish?
Our greatest success with original English language poetry has come with Carol Ann Duffy, whose first four books were published by Anvil. "Mean Time" (1993) won both the Forward Prize and the Whitbread Poetry Award. Dennis O'Driscoll
and Michael Hamburger are two other outstanding poets currently published by Anvil, while recent successes with new poets have included Greta Stoddart (her "At Home in the Dark" won the Geoffrey Faber Award in 2002) and A.B. Jackson (his
"Fire Stations" won the 2003 Forward Prize for Best First Collection). We publish translations of poets ranging from Sappho to Seferis via Dante, Hölderlin, Baudelaire, Tagore, Celan, and numerous others.
What kind of submissions/themes are you interested in at the moment/near future and why did they stand out?
No thematic restrictions, but we suggest poets considering submitting to Anvil look at our guidelines (on our website at www.anvilpresspoetry.com). We receive over 1,000 manuscripts each year and can take on no more than one new poet every 18
months, so poets should only submit to us if they have a strong track record with magazine publications.
Who do you think are interesting new poets and why?
Personal favourites (excluding Anvil poets) are Chris Greenhalgh, Roddy Lumsden, Frank Kuppner; very hard to say quite why, but all three can be very funny, which
is rare in poetry. Also Alice Oswald and Paul Stubbs - both highly original writers.
What excites you about poetry- what keeps you interested?
Just the discovery of writers such as those listed above.
And what turns you off- any big obvious no-no's?
To be avoided: arrogant or aggressive covering letters, poets trying to promote (or even recite) their work over the phone.
What do you think are the most common mistakes new writers make?
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