Thursday, April 2, 2009

I enjoy reading the marketing-speak of poetry publishers, where they use a form of language which the poetry they're publishing generally tries to satirise, appropriate or subvert. The Salt website in particular, has taken hard-sell into new territory. How's this for an announcement of a poetry book:

The knives are out. Poetry declares hand-to-hand guerrilla war on conservative aesthetics

That's got to be spoof, but... I'm not so sure. It's for a book by one Vincent de Souza, who's work I don't know,but who surely doesn't deserve such a blurb. We are told that his book 'fashions a new set of intellectual, technical and visual dynamics', which would be impressive enough, but Mr. de Souza apparently does it 'without resorting to bludgeoning or violence'. Amazing. And something attendees at his readings will be relieved to hear.

Another big-hitter in the poetry salestalk arena is of course, Bloodaxe Books. It still describes itself as 'Britain's premier poetry publisher'. Is that true? Well, it depends which measure you use. Quality of poetry is notoriously subjective and unscientific, so let's try another: the number of titles published. In 2008, Bloodaxe published 28 new titles, Shearsman published 60. Bloodaxe have planned 32 titles in 2009, Shearsman, again 60. As for Salt, a quick count shows they've published 54 titles in the last 6 months(!).

So Bloodaxe aren't the most prolific publisher, that's for sure. and now they're even slipping behind in the league table of overstatement and exaggerated claims. Who'd have thought it?

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