There was much talk at StAnza about the dearth of young Scottish poets, or emerging Scottish poets, to be non-ageist. In talking to some fellow poet/publishers, I said I thought the creative writing courses in the Scottish universities would be one of the strands from which we might expect these writers to come. I even had the idea of approaching the Scottish Arts Council to see if they might co-ordinate a pamphlet publishing venture between the CW courses. I was told, and I can still scarcely believe it, that some of the lecturers on these courses discourage pamphlet publishing. ‘Wait until Bloodaxe or Carcanet approaches you for a full collection,’ was one quote I heard. If this is true, then some of our academics know hee-haw about the publishing scene, and how young poets come to prominence. The number who have taken this route is vanishing small. The vast majority have made it through magazine submissions (still essential) and pamphlets, before they get a full collection.
I was mightily impressed by Roddy Lumsden’s ‘Pilot Poets’ session, featuring Adam O’Riordan, Ben Wilkinson, Abi Curtis, Jay Bernard and Emily Berry. They now all have pamphlets published by tall-lighthouse press. I bought their work after the session (the stock sold out very quickly, by the way), and on reading them now I’m still mightily impressed.
Could we do something similar in Scotland? I’m damn sure we could. Further, I think we should.