“A poet of fantastic inversions.” Poetry London

“Multifaceted, mega-fabricated, louche architecture.” Magma

“Voraciously experimental, precociously accomplished.” Poetry International

The Emma Press Anthology of Fatherhood

A poem of mine, Tiberius and the Kid, is included in the latest anthology from The Emma Press, which was published on 29th May, just in time for Fathers’ Day in the UK.

Firstly, on the matter of the poem, it’s part of a new-ish book I’m putting together which has nothing to do with anything else I’m writing. All the poems are about a character called Kid Jupiter, a cartoon tyrant prince based on Caligula (via interpretations by John Hurt, Malcolm MacDowell, Albert Camus and Tim Turnbull – not the more generous and realistic Balsdon/Barrett characterisation). It’s children’s poetry, with an emphasis on word games and rhythm. Tiberius and the Kid concerns Kid Jupiter’s relationship with his adoptive father, who is also his predecessor as emperor. It includes phrases like ‘jumped-up jake’ and ‘terminally gruff’.

Secondly, on the matter of the publisher, The Emma Press is one of the most distinctive small presses to have emerged in recent years, unashamedly leaning towards an aesthetic of sweetness and light and focusing its energies on gift books. They want to publish “the kind of books you want to carry around in your pocket or handbag, to dip into on the train or while you’re waiting for the bus as well as have on your e-reader or phone like you would an mp3 of a favourite song”. Their launches usually involve bunting.

Among those who remember the Daisy Goodwin years, this may set faces to stone. Those plush pink books that framed poetry as micro-therapy or health snack may have sold well, but seemingly did so by declawing the medium, tying a ribbon round its neck and calling it ‘Mr Fluffy’, while Goodwin herself was the golemification of something generated by a BBC spreadsheet. But Emma Wright’s press is better than that. The charm is natural, rather than part of a design spec, and the aesthetic exists to serve the books themselves, as objets d’art, not as a method of prescription.

In fact, both The Emma Press Anthology of Mildly Erotic Poetry and A Poetic Primer For Love and Seduction: Naso was my Tutor are far more focused, thoughtful compilations than Penguin’s bloated The Poetry of Sex, and, unlike that book and those administered by Goodwin, do not rely on famous or long-canonised poets for stuffing. Fundamentally, Emma Press books and pamphlets feel young and genuinely interested in making friends, rather than a cynical exercise in persuasion.

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