Small press with big dreams delivers latest anthology

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The Emma Press is a small, independent publisher specialising in anthologies and pamphlets, and has only been up and running for just over a year. But in that time the energetic and enthusiastic Emma Wright, pictured, and co-editor Rachel Piercey have published three anthologies – on Mildly Erotic Verse, Love and Seduction, and now, their latest, on Motherhood. On Thursday 27 February they launched the Motherhood anthology at a packed Tea House Theatre in London’s Vauxhall, with 18 women poets reading.  (There are four male poets in the book as well).

The philosophy of the press is to produce books that are “sweet, funny and beautiful”. Emma Wright, who does not write poetry herself, does the artwork, too. The books may look very attractive, but, in her introduction to Motherhood, Wright says “it is not a comfortable book”, and “offers no easy resolution to the tensions of expectation between women and motherhood, and mothers and children”.

She adds that the poems that were finally selected for the anthology “turned out sadder than I expected, but it felt true to the major preoccupations of all the poets in the pool of submissions, just as it felt important to acknowledge the most testing expectations and conflicts encountered by people in relation to motherhood”. 

Despite that, the mood at the Tea House was joyful, with a number of poets thanking Wright and Piercey for including them in the anthology, and praising the look of the book. One young mother, Clare Pollard, who has published four collections, admitted that she was enjoying a night off from childcaring. Flora de Falbe, in her final year of school, delivered a prayer to her mother: “Now that you are older and blonder / spring will come: the worst is done.”  Kathryn Maris’ ‘On Returning a Child to her Mother at the Natural History Museum’, opens the book, and encapsulates a lot:


                   Don’t worry: I don’t ever judge

     a mother. Look at me: my daughter drank

     the Calpol I left out when she was two;

     I gave my kids Hundreds and Thousands once

     for dinner while I lay down on the floor,

     a wreck. I know you well! Here’s Emily.


At the start of the evening Rachel Piercey read several poems from Kristen Roberts’ pamphlet, The Held and the Lost, which was also being launched that night. Another anthology, on fatherhood this time, is due to published later this year, in May, and at Thursday night’s launch Wright said that they would soon be calling for submissions for a collection, to be published in 2015, on dance. There are a hectic series of events scheduled in March, including a pop-up shop in London’s Moorgate. 

All the poets in the anthologies have received a small fee as well as a complimentary copy of the book and an author discount. Submissions have been free for the past year, but next month the “Emma Press Club” is being introduced, where only members can submit. You can become a member by buying a book from the website, or if you have already been in an Emma Press book.

Wright said sales have been going well, mostly online and at events. The Emma Press – motto “small press, big dreams” -  is now distributed through Central Books via Inpress, the external sales and marketing service. She added: “I only signed up last month, but I hope that Emma Press will start to be stocked in the bigger shops.” Naturally, with Mothers Day coming up, she is also hoping that the timing of the latest anthology will be helpful for offspring looking for a different kind of present – and, of course, for The Emma Press, too.  


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