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This report is taken from PN Review 116, Volume 23 Number 6, July - August 1997.

Talent to Burn Charles Johnson

I've just had the pleasure of proofreading Fat Brother, a 31-page pamphlet of poems by Bridget Joseph, about to be published by Flarestack. To describe the collection as consisting of one third animal poems would be accurate but misleading. There are animals here - the Fat Brother of the title is a beloved toad - but mostly there is an unflinching investigation and detailing of the scars and bruised places left on the poet's consciousness by a life intelligently and sensitively lived.

Flarestack Publishing, a collaborative venture between (for the most part) local poets and Hereford and Worcester County Library, is a model of low-cost sponsorship that other county and university libraries might well adopt. The idea grew naturally out of the County Library's ongoing writing development project, and from the discovery that it is fairly easy to make presentable pamphlets using a word processor, a photocopier and a long-arm stapler. Once they had discovered it could be done, Flarestack began offering first pamphlet publication to local poets who had 'proved themselves' with a dozen or so magazine acceptances. The County Library happily encourages the Flarestack Publishing initiative as part of its literature promotion role, providing stationery supplies and the use of Redditch Library's photocopier, and in return receiving half of all sales income.

The successful formula that Flarestack has hit upon, of minute print runs, simple production methods, 'invisible' overheads, and word-of-mouth marketing, has made it possible to produce six collections in the press's ...


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