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Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The rise of the pamphlet

Arguably, tall-lighthouse started it (and their Helen Mort pamphlet is a PBS choice now). In Britain, the last few years have seen the irresistible rise of the poetry pamphlet (chapbooks). Oystercatcher, the recent winner of the Marks Prize, is a prime example of such a superior press - one that publishes vital and needed poets, often sidelined by an establishment view that is partially obstructed. And, more recently, Faber's poets series is introducing, with mentoring, exceptional young poets, too. What does this all mean? Poets now often plan for, and publish, their first works in this smaller, often tighter and more compactly vital form, before expanding to a first "full" collection. More poets get the chance to stretch their legs, and reach readers, critics, and family. Perhaps aided by the Internet decade just passed, there is nonetheless something pleasingly physical and often DIY and down to earth about these brief books. No wonder the Guardian is offering free pamphlets this week, of Romantic Poets.
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