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Carcanet approaching 50: Poetry Publishers, Archives and the Digital Revolution

Carcanet approaching 50: Poetry Publishers, Archives and the Digital Revolution
Carcanet approaching 50: Poetry Publishers, Archives and the Digital Revolution
Thursday 17 January 2019
John Rylands Library, Manchester
#Carcanet50 #PoetrySurvival
How do small poetry publishers survive in a global marketplace dominated by large, multinational publishing firms? What can be done to actively preserve their archives and make them available? And how can scholars produce new knowledge, using these paper and born-digital archives? What does it mean to publish poetry at the time when “users” read poems on their tablets or phones, listen to podcasts and watch videos of poetry performances?
This one-day workshop will examine poetry publishers, focusing particularly on Carcanet Press. Founded in 1969 by Michael Schmidt and Peter Jones, Carcanet moved from Oxford to Manchester in 1972. The press went on to build a diverse list, including poetry in translation and by neglected women poets. Among the distinguished writers associated with Carcanet are Elizabeth Jennings, Ted Hughes and many others.
Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of Carcanet, the workshop will offer unique insight into a publishing house central to the contemporary literary landscape. More generally, it will ask how independent poetry publishers can compete against multinational publishing firms in an increasingly concentrated economy. The workshop will also explore the question of archiving the activities of small poetry publishers. While large firms usually have their own in-house archivists, small firms have often worked with universities and cultural organisations to preserve their records in the long term. Since the 1970s, the archives of Carcanet Press have been preserved at the John Rylands Library. It is now time for scholars and other users to fully explore the potential of these archival documents – which include paper, and increasingly, born-digital records.
This workshop at the John Rylands Library (Manchester, 17 January 2019) is the first of two “Survival of the Weakest” events funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellowship awarded to Dr Lise Jaillant. It will bring together 30 participants, including writers associated with the early days of Carcanet in the late 1960s and 1970s.
Contributions are invited from scholars, archivists, publishing industry professionals, biographers, and creative writers. Each participant will be asked to prepare a 15 minute paper addressing the theme of the workshop. Participants are encouraged to look towards the past, but also the future of poetry publishing in the digital age.
Workshop Highlights:

  • Internationally-recognised participants – including Michael Schmidt OBE FRSL, founder of Carcanet Press
  • Roundtable with well-known writers
  • Networking opportunities in the sumptuous John Rylands Library
This workshop will lead to the publication of a special issue on poetry publishers and their archives in a changing digital landscape.
If you would like to participate, please send a CV and 300-word description of your planned contribution to: l.jaillant [at] by 12 October 2018.