We have now sent our 27th and final book to print, a beautiful debut chapbook by midlands poet Shruti Chauhan. It comes at the end of the busiest year yet for Burning Eye. 27 books! It’s been a wonderful learning curve (maybe there’s a reason we should scale the list down!) but such an enjoyable experience to help a varied list of poets achieve dreams in bound books. At the beginning of our schedule, back in March, we introduced you to the adult poetry of award-winning children’s poet Joshua Seigal, his mastery of verse and performance brought his work to life in Advice to a Young Skydiver. Scottish poet Liam McCormick created a crucial collection around toxic masculinity and gendered violence that forced men back into the conversation. And Sam Boarer debuted her hilarious and warming Real Grown Up Women.
Before all this, Swedish superstar poet Agnes Török flew over to do a short book tour to launch her new collection We Need To Talk: a frank and much needed guide solidarity and survivorship. 10% of the proceeds made by our web sales go to Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Assault Support. She set off around the country, visiting Bristol, then up to Waterstones in Oxford with Tina Sederholm and Bridget Hart, up to Edinburgh for the Audacious Women’s Festival and to London for That’s What She Said.
In April we released the punk poetry of Yorkshire poet Henry Raby, a political look at identity, the working class and all things nerdy. Henry launched Nerd Punks at the same time as touring his latest show Whatever Happened to Vandal Raptor? London poet and MC Paul Cree dropped his debut collection The Suburban, a brilliantly honest and unique look at satellite town living and celebration on ten years of performance. With spring on the horizon, Katrine Solvaag stepped out with Broken People, one of our new poets to shone through our open submissions call. As the rain cleared into a busy May we had Very Friendly Weapon by James Mc’Kay and Broken Compass by Birmingham poet Carys Hannah, who’s wondrous world travelling is pressed perfectly between the pages. We are always pleased to see southwest poets on our list like the brilliant Beryl the Feral with her comprehensive collection My Other Poems Are Funnier. Finally into the summer, we released the beautiful debut from Amani Saeed – SPLIT.
Rosy Carrick joined the Burning Eye ranks at the beginning of June with her first collection Chokey and we were thrilled to see her perform at Cheltenham Literature Festival and SO:TO Speak in the autumn. Bournemouth poet laureate Myriam San Marco enchanted us with Sakura. Award-winning poet Panya Banjoko released Some Things – one for everyone willing to listen and learn. Young poet powerhouse Maddie Godfrey turned everything up with How to Be Held, a gorgeous queer feminist collection which she toured around Australia in the summer.
As the UK continued it’s perilous trek across the Brexit bogs, Jess Green returned with her second BE collection to rally the troops – A Self Help Guide to Being In Love with Jeremy Corbyn received mixed, but mostly great reviews and helped to her to the top of the BBC Fringe Slam 2018. Previous winner Scott Tyrrell arrived in July with Honest, his debut collection, tackling topics from parenthood to politics. And in August, we welcomed Penny Pepper to the family, with her new collection Come Home Alive, as well as our first poetry in translation – Hydra’s Heads by Nora Gomringer, translated by Stanza’s Annie Rutherford. We also announced the winners of our BAME Pamphlet competition – Adrian Earle, Hanan Issa and Caroline Teague. Look out for their pamphlets coming in October 2019.
As summer started to close, we were graced by a collaborative new collection on motherhood by BE poets Thommie Gillow and Hannah Teasdale, Bristol based poet and visual artist Isadora Vibes gave us soak and took it on tour to the Nordic Fringe to perform her show in a bath! (#bathpoetry). Sophia Blackwell returned with a new collection The Other Woman, adding another brilliant collection to her portfolio and continuing to charm us all. Finally, September shut with the fantastic debut collection from Manchester based poet Hafsah Aneela Bashir – The Celox and the Clot.
In October we went back to Cheltehanm Literature Festival for #LitCrawl! Taking with us Isadora Vibes and Carys Hannah, who read from their 2018 collections on the shop floor at Waterstones. We also got a chance to see BANG Said the Gun, Hollie McNish and Hera Lindsey Bird. We also prepared for our last group of books, headed by Cosmocartography, the incredible debut from Ciarán Hodgers and strongly followed by Lucy English with her poetic retelling of The Book of Hours and Nadia Malik‘s minimal and soft Venus Shells. Bringing our busy output to a close we had the new collection Can You See Where I’m Coming From? by southwest superstar Melanie Branton and That Which Can Be Heard, a gorgeous pamphlet by Shruti Chauhan.
In many ways this year has been progressive for Burning Eye, we released more books than ever, but we also teamed up with Find the Right Words in Leicester, to sponsor their monthly poetry night. This has been brilliant because we are currently unfunded, and cannot offer our poets too much in the way of tours or gigs, teaming up with FTRW has allowed us to network our poets and provide some paid work. On our sponsoring streak with have also made connections with London Writer’s Awards with Spread the Word and will be providing our services and advice for their writers, we will also be taking part in the Hip Yak Poetry School to promote the southwest poetry scene next May.
A big shout out and congratulations once again to Toby Campion (Through your blood, 2017) and Vanessa Kisuule (A Recipe for Sorcery, 2017) for their Highly Recommended Poems featured in the Forward Prize for Poetry anthology 2018. We are so so proud!
Shagufta K Iqbal joined the BE team this autumn to help us with funding applications and has been a wonderful addition to our Wednesday meetings around Clive’s kitchen table! We finally met Harriet, our brilliant copy editor and had our first BE Xmas meal!
I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has supported Burning Eye this year, said a kind word, retweeted and reblogged our books. At the end of this year we have now published 150 books, sold 60,000 copies and our equality and variety keeps growing. We are delighted to be moving into our 8th year of publishing, with many, many exciting things on the horizon. We will be releasing our 2019 schedule very soon, but in the meantime, you can see us at Good on Paper in Stroud on 5th January with a showcase of southwest poets, and we’re back at Verve Poetry Festival 16th Feb!
Have a wonderful winter break and a bright new year everyone!