Skip to main content

Salt Tears

No one who cares about British poetry would have been happy to read the news, widely facebooked about yesterday, that Salt was announcing a cessation of single-author poetry collection publishing.  This is big news, because Salt had been publishing 30+ such volumes a year of late, under the editorship of Roddy Lumsden, a Scottish Bloodaxe poet with claim to being the formally inventive master of these isles; along the way, Salt championed many debuts of brilliant poets, including two major figures, Jon Stone and Luke Kennard.  In all, they'd published around 400 such titles.  Last year Salt was shortlisted for a Man Booker Prize for prose, which is also big news, and changed their fortunes.

Salt saw that the prose world was more open to their brand of indie brashness than the poetry world, which had rather noticeably not prized the Salt list as much as might have been expected, given its talent-rich offerings.  Of course, the immediate reaction was a little ugly - poets angered, feeling let down.  Laundry got aired that wasn't lily white.  Okay, but hold on.  Salt did a lot, and paid a price.  I am glad to be a director of a publishing house because now I know a terrible truth that keeps me up at night, like some Lone Gunman from the X-Files.

The truth: poetry books don't sell at all well, unless they win or are shortlisted for a big prize; or are by a famous poet that is often on the BBC.  You can tweet, and hype, and pop up, and bang tambourines, but you'll likely sell 200 copies or less of most debut poetry collections.  As Keats did.  The universe has a few rules, and that is one of them.  Poetry sells 200 units if you are unknown.  The world is cruel, but given most people have more than 200 friends and family members these days, it is also fickle and lacking money.  Salt would still be selling poetry collections and publishing them if YOU were buying them.  So, while you can, consider ordering a poetry book today, by a British indie press.  Eyewear will do.  And cut Salt some slack.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…


Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…


The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…