Interview with Sharon black editor of Pindrop press

Billy CollinsCheryl Pearson’s Bob CooperMark RussellElisabeth Sennitt Clough



Can you tell me how you very first heard about Pindrop Press when you were looking for a publisher?

An online poet friend mentioned that she had just met a lovely editor, Jo Hemmant, who had published several collections by established poets, and was now looking to publish a debut collection by a UK writer. I had just completed a manuscript for my first collection and sent it to her the next day.

What made you choose this press and how was it working with the editor, Jo Hemmant?

When Jo offered me a publishing contract, I had already checked out Pindrop’s backlist and decided this was a serious press I could trust, with a sound reputation. I also clicked with Jo on a personal level, which felt important as we were going to have to work together over something extremely close to my heart. Finally, I admired her very much as a poet in her own right, which again felt important for taking on board her editing suggestions.

Working with Jo was a dream. I’ve since discovered that publishers and editors vary enormously in the way they work with authors. Jo was prompt, thorough and open to suggestions. She also allowed me a large say in the book’s look and feel – she was happy to use a cover image I suggested, for example –which I was deeply grateful for.


How did you become interested in taking over the press and how does your vision compare with the Founder’s?

I had recently had my second collection published – by a different press – and on learning that this other press might be on its way out I expressed an interest in taking it over. That takeover didn’t work out, but during my discussions with the owner I’d dropped Jo a couple of emails with questions about the industry to help me make up my mind. In one of these emails, Jo said – well, if it doesn’t work out with this other press then maybe you’d consider taking over Pindrop?

I would say my vision for Pindrop is very close to Jo’s. Like many small presses, Pindrop is run by just one person – me – and as such its output is low, at the moment 4 titles a year, though this may increase in time. What this means is I can really focus on quality – both manuscript and finished book. Like Jo, I handpick titles that I believe are excellent, and I work closely with authors, ensuring they get their say in everything from the content and layout of the poems, to the cover. This last point I think is very important – I know presses vary greatly in the extent to which they allow their authors input. I see no point in putting out a book that a poet is not 100% behind. It’s a relationship that’s being created, not just a product.

What do you look for in a submission now you are the editor?

Quite simply – poems that I love, work that I believe in. Poetry that I am convinced should be out there in the public arena, touching people in the way it touches me. Really it boils down to that. The usual clichés – writing that is surprising, challenging, pushes boundaries – apply of course to some extent. But only insofar as the poems have that effect on me. I know that’s not very helpful, but I think it’s true.

What titles are being published in the future. Can you tell me a little about the poetry/poets you have chosen?

Pindrop will be publishing 4 titles over the next 6 months, and I am enormously excited about all of them. The first is by poet Mark Russell, who lives in Scotland and has a previous pamphlet to his name. Mark’s debut collection, Spearmint & Rescue, is a wonderful blend of poetry that is bittersweet, hilarious, tragic, sexy and poignant. After that comes another debut collection, Sightings, by the fabulous Norfolk poet Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, whose pamphlet Glass won the 2016 Paper Swans Press Pamphlet Competition. Elisabeth’s poetry is rooted in the everyday, yet manages to find the magical and the universal in the most mundane details. Next is Bob Cooper, a seasoned poet from Birmingham whose poetry is sometimes surreal, sometimes skilfully plain, but always understated and exquisitely observed. Finally, Cheryl Pearson’s debut collection Oysterlight is powerful, raw, delicate and quite beautiful poetry, with mythology, history and love as its central themes.


What challenges have you had so far and where would you like to see the press heading?

The only challenges I’ve had so far have been administrative and technical. Fortunately, I have a wonderful IT team in place, in the form of my long-suffering husband Alex, who is a dab hand at all things software and hardware related. Reading reams and reams of poetry has been a pleasure. Turning down poets whose work is good but just not quite good enough, or simply not to my taste, is never easy, but that’s just one of the necessary drawbacks of the job. Luckily there are lots of poetry presses out there and I know many will find good homes elsewhere.

I would like to see the press heading exactly where it wants to head. I don’t believe it setting long-term goals. I’d much rather watch an organic evolution taking place than push Pindrop in a certain direction. As long as my own passion lies in poetry and in creating beautiful books, then this will remain Pindrop’s emphasis.

If you could select one person in the world (this or another) living or dead who could make you a coffee in the morning and look over submissions with you, who would you choose?

It would have to be Billy Collins, the former US poet laureate. I’m a huge fan of his work and I think he’d make an excellent coffee. He’d take his time over it and serve it up with something unfancy but unspeakably delicious. Then he’d sit blowing slow smoke rings over the desk while calmly pushing this page into that pile, that page into this pile, barely saying a word but managing to convey which poems to take and which to leave, and why, by just the simplest gestures. Could I have him for the week?

INDIGO DREAMS PAMPHLET PRIZE 2016 Closing Date: 14 October 2016



Details: Two winners will receive a royalty publishing contract from award-winning Indigo Dreams and receive 20 copies of their poetry pamphlet Submission: Full poetry pamphlet up to 30 pages 36 lines max inc line breaks.

Entry Fee: £15 per block of poems.


All entries must be accompanied by cheque to correct amount made payable to ‘IDP’ or via PayPal.

See full submission rules at

Postal submissions to

Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize, 24 Forest Houses, Halwill,

Beaworthy, Devon, EX21 5UU

Vahni Capildeo wins 2016 Forward Prize for poetry


Parts of this are taken from The Guardian and parts from the Forward Prize

Vahni Capildeo has won the 2016 Forward prize for best poetry collection. Capildeo’s collection Measures of Expatriation, which explores ideas of belonging and home, saw off a shortlist including TS Eliot winner Alice Oswald, Ian Duhig, Choman Hardi and Denise Riley. She follows two Jamaican-born poets, Kei Miller and Claudia Rankine, who took the main prize respectively in 2014 and 2015.

Sasha Dugdale was awarded the £1,000 best single poem prize for Joy, which was first published in PN Review. A “surprisingly long winner” according to Booker, Joy is written in the voice of William Blake’s newly widowed wife Catherine, and is “mesmerising, beautiful and effortless to read”.

Forward Prizes….tonight!



See the nation’s most coveted poetry prizes awarded live on stage.

Between the prize givings, hear readings from the ten collections chosen by the Forward judges from poetry published in the UK and the Republic of Ireland over the last 12 months.

Now in their 25th year, the Forward Prizes remain dedicated to heralding fresh new voices as well as commemorating famous names. This year’s judges are Liz Berry, Don Share, George Szirtes and Tracey Thorn, chaired by Malika Booker.

This year’s shortlists are:

The Forward Prize for Best Collection (£15,000)
Vahni Capildeo – Measures of Expatriation (Carcanet)
Ian Duhig – The Blind Roadmaker (Picador Poetry)
Choman Hardi – Considering the Women (Bloodaxe Books)
Alice Oswald – Falling Awake (Cape Poetry)
Denise Riley – Say Something Back (Picador Poetry)

The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000)
Nancy Campbell – Disko Bay (Enitharmon Press)
Ron Carey – DISTANCE (Revival Press)
Harry Giles – Tonguit (Freight Books)
Ruby Robinson – Every Little Sound (Liverpool University Press)
Tiphanie Yanique – Wife (Peepal Tree Press)

The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (£1,000)
Sasha Dugdale – ‘Joy’ (PN Review)
David Harsent – ‘from Salt’ (Poetry London)
Solmaz Sharif – ‘Force Visibility’ (Granta Magazine)
Melissa Lee-Houghton – ‘i am very precious’ (Prac Crit)
Rachel Hadas – ‘Roosevelt Hospital Blues’ (Times Literary Supplement)

‘The Forward Prizes have turned a spotlight on contemporary poetry which is both searching and glamorous.’ (Carol Ann Duffy)

Open for submissions: The Poets’ Republic

The Poets’ Republic is calling for submissions of unpublished poetry (up to three poems).

A little bit about them:

Founded in 2015, The Poets’ Republic magazine is published twice a year. They want irreverent, witty, contrary poems, or poems that jolt them from their slumbers. They welcome poetry that is hungry for a riot, as well as poems that will melt their flinty northern hearts. The magazine is run on a voluntary basis and is not in receipt of any funding.


If you’d like to submit your original poetry, please read their submissions guidelines.

Rogue Strands and a chronicle of loss

Thanks so much Matthew Stewart for reviewing The Skin Diary. Reviews are terribly time-consuming, but when one connects with the poems something wonderful happens. I’m thrilled Stewart spent sometime living with The Skin Diary, turning its pages and documenting his response.


Chronicles of loss, Abegail Morley’s The Skin Diary

“Imagine and imaginary are key words in The Skin Diary (Nine Arches Press, 2016), Abegail Morley’s new collection, and provide a hint to her poetics. However, far from being a flight of fancy, this book is rooted in human experience, as the imaginary turns real and the real imaginary…”

The full version is here

Open for submissions: Brittle Star


Brittle Star is calling for submissions of unpublished, original poetry (of up to four poems)

A little bit about them:

For fifteen years, Brittle Star has been publishing poems and short stories from new and early-career writers, many of whom have seen their work in print for the first time. They’ve a growing reputation for being one of the first ports of call for new writers on the path to publishing their debut collections. A not-for-profit magazine published twice a year; it receives no funding and their magazine is run on a voluntary basis by a small team of dedicated writers and arts professionals.

Brittle Star also has a great reviews section which is well worth a look, especially for guiding new poets into the world of collection publishing.


If you’d like to submit short stories or poetry, please read their submission guidelines.


Karen Izod – Two poems


after ‘The Execution of Lady Jane Grey’ Paul Delaroche 1883.

We were threading beads, do you remember?
It was a dark day, the nursery never a homely room,
and a shaft of light broke through the window
catching at the sheen on your dress.

Radiant you were. I thought we were in the Presence,
in the scatterings of angels leading Jacob up his staircase.
And I saw you as some heavenly bride, ecstatic.
I shocked myself with the thought.

Come let’s play blind man’s buff, I said, turning you
in my arms, covering your eyes, turning you again.
And your necklace spilled. Garnets fell like tiny stabs
from your neck, and I felt the light backing away,

being eclipsed by some other thing.



Urbane, charming,
he pads at the edges
of the campo, keeps
to the shadows, watches
the hen and her chicks
strutting their stuff,
vulnerable in the belief
that a brood protects.
which one, he eyes
will he pick off tonight?



Karen lives in Guildford, Surrey, close to the North Downs. She works as an independent consultant to organisational and cultural change, and has published a number of academic and practitioner papers and books in her field. Currently she is a D.Phil candidate at the University of the West of England, where she is a visiting research fellow. Karen’s poetry has appeared in Agenda, Attachment, New Welsh Review’s video showcase, and at and she regularly performs in local spoken word events. Karen is a lover of bird-life and wild places, and additionally writes and runs workshops on attachment to land and city scapes. She was long-listed in the New Welsh Review’s nature writing competition – People, Place and Planet 2015.

Live Canon 2016 International Poetry Competition – deadline 12 September

2016 International Poetry Competition

Deadline 12th September

First prize: £1000

25 shortlisted poems will be published in the 2016 prize anthology, and performed by the Live Canon Ensemble at our prize giving event at Greenwich Theatre on Sunday 20th November 2016.

The overall winner will be announced at the event and receive £1000. There is also a £100 prize for the highest placed entry by a local writer, living working or studying in the London Borough of Greenwich.

lorraineGuest Judge: Lorraine Mariner
Lorraine Mariner was born in 1974, grew up in Upminster and attended Huddersfield University and University College. She works at the Poetry Library, Southbank Centre. Her pamphlet Bye For Now was published by The Rialto in 2005 and a collection entitled Furniture was published in 2009. In 2005 she also received an Arts Council Writer’s Award and in 2007 her poem ‘Thursday’ was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for best individual poem. Her latest collection, There Will Be No More Nonsense, was published by Picador in 2014.

Stephen Bone’s poem – Attic


The sturdy steamer trunks
scabbed with peeling labels.

The rusty rictus
of an upturned grate.

An abacus subtracting
beads onto the floor.

A blind doll. A flock
of damaged shuttlecocks.

A gramophone long retired,
Toscanini At The Met, still in place.

A Baby Belling.
A yellow beach ball

still limply holding
his father’s breath.


This poem first published in Smiths Knoll


His collection, In The Cinema is published by Playdead Press 2014, £7.99

Stephen Bone started writing poetry several years ago, encouraged by Alan Ross. His work has appeared in magazines including Seam, Smiths Knoll, The Interpreter’s House, The Rialto among others. He has worked in television, theatre and film.