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This report is taken from PN Review 77, Volume 17 Number 3, January - February 1991.

Letter from Littlewood John Killick
With the proliferation of publications in Britain today it can only be a matter of time before a new law is enacted: the civil offence of 'Commission of Imprint', the maximum penalty being banishment to some Saint Helena of the mind, where one is force-fed an exclusive diet of one's own editions.

The Small Press Publisher should be warier than most of contributing to market saturation: he can't even invoke the profit motive as justification for his activity. But you may be sure of one thing: he will carry on regardless. Ian McMillan has a poem entitled 'Some Poetry Presses I will Certainly Set Up in the Next Three Weeks' which perfectly captures the arrogant dilettantism of the breed. The obverse of this is the fact that the alternative publishing scene is sublimely noncomformist and therefore healthily nose-snubbing of the establishment. An Editor should never forget that what he/she is engaged in is fighting a rearguard action against a largely Oxbridge-dominated metropolitan-based clique: chums endlessly printing and 'noticing' chums. When Craig Raine pronounces that contemporary poetry is far too concerned with emotion, the heads nod sagely, and another decade of brittle artifice is sanctified in the commonrooms.

Thank goodness I exaggerate. The last ten years has seen the growth of pluralism in the poetry publishing world. A gauntlet has been thrown down. It is no accident that Harry Chambers's Press is named after a famous event in Northern working-class history; and Neil Astley's, burgeoning in the North-East, ...


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