Poetry editor Amy Wack retires after 30 years with Seren
Poetry editor Amy Wack, who is retiring after 30 years at the independent publishers Seren, based in Bridgend, south Wales, has confessed in an interview that she has “an almost purely musical ear for poetry. Sometimes I will not even understand what a poem is about, I will just notice a fine-tuned intelligence and intention and a gorgeous sense of sound”.
In the interview she also said that a really successful poetry book would amount to around 1,000 copies sold over the first three years; that “Amazon discounting has severely dented profits for small presses, almost to the point where they are financially untenable”; and “there are all sorts of non-poetical reasons why any press might not be able to take someone on. It is simply maths. We only publish eight books a year”.
She added that she had “tried to go out of my way to avoid long-term feuds with people. This is harder than you might imagine, particularly when you are in a gatekeeper position. I get flak all the time; ‘Well of course, I see (from Google) that you are from California, how can you possibly know about Welsh Poetry.’
“Sometimes the ‘poetry world’ feels like a small party where everyone is getting slowly drunker, and you know you’d better leave before the fights break out. At the same time, I value the stroppy millennials who showed me that we must take white privilege and its deleterious effects seriously.”
PHOTOGRAPH: GREG FREEMAN / WRITE OUT LOUD