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Huddersfield Literature Festival

26 April 07 words: James Walker
A showcase of some of the best small publishing houses in the country, including a presence from Nottingham

The things we do for you here at Leftlion! Whilst you lot were sat around celebrating Mothers’ Day by watching your mam cook and iron for you, James Walker risked blizzards, snow and motorway traffic to attend the Readers’ Day and Small Press Fair at Huddersfield Town Hall. However, don’t feel guilty as this had nothing to do with altruism. Given the ridiculously high price of properties these days, James has made himself a house out of books and went in search of some freebies. Here is a list of some of the kind publishers who attended and helped him with his quest for domestic bliss.

Arc have been publishing contemporary poetry for over four decades now, specialising in translated works and Commonwealth poets. Constantly coming up with new and innovative ideas such as their Visible Poets series they are publishers to be both admired and supported. They are also one of the more democratic publishers, selecting from the best that comes through the post whilst making collective editorial decisions.
Vital Statistics: Nanholme Mill, Shaw Wood Road, Todmorden, Lancs, OL14 6DA, UK
Arc Publications website

If you were going to build your house out of books then Barefoot Books make the perfect bricks. Formed in 1993 they are keen to introduce children to other cultures, appreciating art and understanding the meaning of language. It is hoped that in fostering this attitude children will develop the confidence and integrity to better understand today’s ever changing and less certain world. They are also one of the greenest publishers around, avoiding planes for distribution where possible and using renewal energy sources for electricity. For this alone, we are happy to promote their work.
Vital Statistics: 124 Walcot Street, Bath BA1 5BG
Barefoot books website

Comma Press is a not-for-profit publishing house launched in 2002 under the guidance of Ra Page. In an age when mainstream publishers equate literature with the latest celebrity biog, Comma remain dedicated to promoting new fiction and poetry. Embodying the spirit of risk-taking they are committed to constantly pushing the boundaries of fiction such as with their Ellipsis series which are linked or themed sequences of short stories by three writers at a time. Comma also pride themselves on keeping the short story alive, testament of which comes in the form of Bracket, Parenthesis and Brace.
Vital Statistics: 2nd Floor, 24 Lever Street, Manchester, M1 1DW
Comma Press website 

Crème de la crime are publishers of top quality crime novels who are keen to promote previously unpublished novelists as well as established authors in other genres who want to make the switch. They are also keen to extend the boundaries of the genre by encouraging experimental work which draws from numerous influences, thereby creating a more hybrid format. With word counts of 70 – 80,000 they produce tight narratives with the female reader in mind as statistically, females buy more crime books than men (The men of course are too busy committing real crimes to be reading). If you’ve penned a thriller and want to follow in the footsteps of Gordon Ferris then get your manuscript in the post but make sure it doesn’t stink of fags. Apparently, this is the number one turn off for the editorial team. How the writers’ life has changed…
Vital Statistics: PO Box 523, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S40 9AT
Crème de la crime website

Five Leaves were flying the flag for Nottingham and require little introduction to our readers; but we’ll give you some anyway. Under the tutorage of Ross Bradshaw - who is also our local literature officer – Five Leaves publish on a diverse range of subjects, most of which is often commissioned. Their main services to literature are promoting secular Jewish culture, taking on non-commercial projects and carrying on in the tradition of Sillitoe et al by promoting up and coming local writers, such as in the excellent short story collection Sunday Night and Monday Morning.
Vital statistics: PO Box 8786, Nottingham NG1 9AW
Five Leaves website

Independent Northern Publishers promote the work of hundreds of new writers as well as up to eighteen small publishers; Arrowhead, Biscuit, Blinking Eye, Diamond Twig, Dogeater, Ek Zuban, Flambardd, Iron Press, Morning Star, Mslexia, Mudfog, New Writing North, Other Poetry, Sand, Smokestack , Tonto Press, Vane Women Press, Zebra. Although all linked under the regional umbrella of the north the publishers offer much variety. For example, Blicking Eye promotes the work of writers over the age of fifty whilst Diamond Twig, launched in 1992 by Ellen Phethean and the late Julia Darling, promote female authors. Then of course there is Smokestack books, run by Andy Croft whom Leftlion interviewed recently. Smokestack champions poets who are unconventional, unfashionable, radical or left-field and so smoke stained manuscripts shouldn’t be a problem. With Crista Ermiya at the helm of Northern Publishers (editor of Route’s latest byteback Skin) they have one of the most easily accessible and informative websites around.
Vital Statistics: Aidan House, Sunderland Road, Gateshead NE8 3HU
Northern Publishers website

It is hard for me to be impartial about Route having been published in their last three short story collections, but I’ll try. Run by husband and wife team of Isabel and Ian Daley this imprint of I. D. Publishing are a high quality publisher who have been described as ‘the Granta of the north’, quite an accolade. In addition to their extensive author portfolio they promote spoken word poets, photographers, artists and new art forms such as the byteback series - whilst taking on a diverse range of projects such as M Y Alams recent multi-cultural masterpiece ‘Made in Bradford’. Just watch them keep growing…
Vital Statistics: PO Box 167, Pontefract, WF8 4WW
Route website

Satchel is an exciting imprint dedicated to the publication of children’s stories from around the world. Specialising in folk tales which are suitable for key stages 1, 2 and 3 they offer a unique service whereby the authors will visit schools to tell the story in person. Satchel are clearly a publisher with a conscience who select tales which promote the beauty and diversity of cultures whilst subtly encouraging readers to contemplate complex social issues through an accessible narrative. In our current ‘culture of fear’ which tends to classify difference in terms of hierarchical values such publishers are welcomed. Leftlion are delighted to announce that we will be interviewing Tariq Mehmood in the following months.
Vital Statistics: 6 Mount Street, Manchester, M2 5NS
Satchel website

The Poetry Business was founded in 1989 by Peter Sansom and holds monthly Writing Days, publishes contemporary poetry books, pamphlets and cassettes under the Smith/Doorstop imprint and is also responsible for literary magazine The North. In 1989 Janet Fisher joined the team as co-editor and co-publisher and has helped to maintain their high standard of quality writing. Over the coming months Leftlion will be reviewing two of their very unique publications Text Messages and Interland which we are sure you will love.
Vital statistics: The Studio, Byram Arcade, Westgate, Huddersfield, HD1 1ND
The Poetry Business website

Tindal Street are famous for three things. Having the best postal address in Britain, being one of the smallest publishers ever to reach the Man Booker Prize shortlist and in promoting quality regional fiction outside of London. Publishing six adult fiction titles a year, recent publications getting us excited include What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn which has reached the longlist for the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction and Cargo Fever by Will Buckingham which we hope to be reviewing soon. Under the careful guidance of Emma Hargrave, Birmingham-based Tindal Street also has a reputation for supporting writers' activities and community ventures making them more than your average publishers.
Vital Statistics: 217 The Custard Factory, Gibb Street, Birmingham B9 4AA
Tindal Street website

Footnote to readers: Now get your typewriters out, carefully check the submission guidelines and get writing those masterpieces. If you don’t, I’ll have nowhere to live…

The Huddersfield Literature Festival took place from 14 – 18 March 2007

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