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Carcanet 50th Anniversary Plans

Tuesday, 23 Jul 2019

Carcanet at 50 image Since 1969 Carcanet has been committed to publishing poetry from around the world, and to mark the past fifty years we're busy planning parties, symposia, exhibitions and more to celebrate! You can read an interview with our founder and editorial director, Michael Schmidt, in The Bookseller, where we also reveal key dates for your diaries over from the autumn onwards!

A series of symposia will run at key locations around the UK and Ireland between Autumn 2019 - Summer 2020, at Poetry Ireland, the National Writer's Centre, The Scottish Poetry Library, Cardiff University and the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts.

The November-December issue of PN Review will be our 250th, and in December we're looking forward to publishing our anniversary edition, Fifty Fifty: Carcanet's Jubilee in Letters, edited by Robyn Marsack - more information below.

On October 25th we'll be celebrating fifty years of Carcanet in Ireland, with an afternoon symposium followed by evening readings with music, at Poetry Ireland, Dublin. Two panels will explore Carcanet’s core Irish poets and Irish poetry beyond Ireland. Confirmed speakers include Carcanet poets Sinéad Morrissey, Tara Bergin, John F. Deane, Mary O’Malley, Martina Evans and Moya Cannon; Gerry Smith and John McAuliffe of The Irish Times, Sarah Byrne of The Well Review and Colette Bryce.

In November, the press will celebrate in its home of Manchester over the weekend of 21st to 24th, opening with the Annual John Rylands Reading at the Rylands Library, with readings from Kei Miller, Sinéad Morrissey and Matthew Welton on Thursday 21st November. This evening reading will be accompanied by a Collection Encounter, in which guests can look at specially selected items from Carcanet’s archive, which is held in the library. The readers will offer creative writing workshops earlier in the day.

During the afternoon of Saturday 23rd November there will be further Collection Encounters from the press' archive available to members of the public at the Rylands Library, including items surviving the 1996 Manchester bomb, which destroyed Carcanet’s offices. At the Whitworth Gallery there will be a special edition of Poets & Players, Manchester’s long-running poetry & music performance series.

The weekend’s celebrations will close with a special Sunday afternoon event at Chetham’s Library, in collaboration with Manchester Literature Festival, with special guests including Carol Rumens, Simon Armitage, Helen Mort, Zaffar Kunial and more. Full details and tickets will be available from early August.

On January 25th Carcanet's second symposium will take place at the National Centre for Writing in Norwich. The day will be comprised of two afternoon sessions, the first: some of Carcanet's core poets with Laura Scott, Mimi Khalvati, Caroline Bird, Alison Brackenbury, Philip Terry, Rory Waterman and Peter Scupham; the second: indie poetry publishing today with Carcanet’s Michael Schmidt, Nine Arches’ Jane Commane, Nathan Hamilton of Boiler House Press, Anthony Anaxagorou of Out-Spoken, Birdget Shine who is Chair of the IPG, and Neil Astley of Bloodaxe Books. The second session will be chaired by Arts Council England’s Director of Literature, Sarah Crown, and will be followed by a celebratory reading later in the evening.

Later in 2020 the press will be holding symposiums in Cardiff, at the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh and in Newcastle. Further celebratory reading events will be held in Amsterdam, Paris, Oxford, Cambridge and London, and there will be anniversary events at key literary festivals.

In March 2020 an exhibition will open at the John Rylands Library in Manchester, showing Carcanet’s rich history through archival materials. The show will run for six months.

Further details and registration for the first events will open soon. Please join in the conversation on social media with the hashtag #Carcanet50.

Read the interview with Michael Schmidt in The Bookseller here. See the full timeline of events here.
Cover of Fifty Fifty: Carcanet's Jubilee in Letters edited by Robyn Marsack Fifty Fifty celebrates half a century of publishing by one of the UK's most resilient and distinctive independent presses, through correspondence between fifty authors and their editor.

Each of Carcanet’s fifty years is marked by an exchange of letters between an author and the editor. The aim is to reveal a half century’s history of publishing and one small, ambitious press’s contribution, the nature of editing, the author/editor relationship, the conflicts, friendships and vicissitudes that occur at the nexus between the work, its creator, publisher and readers. Beginning in 1969 with the answer to a request to become a subscriber to the Press for £2, the book traces the development of the press as well as individual author/editor relationships. It moves from Pin Farm in Oxfordshire to a house in Cheadle Hulme to an office in the Corn Exchange, central Manchester; from the struggle to survive as an independent to benevolent acquisition by Robert Gavron, the print magnate; surviving the Manchester bombing in 1996 and the vicissitudes of the book trade in lean years. At its heart is the personal relationship of author and editor/publisher, often beginning with contributions to PN Review. Poets are central, but fiction writers, translators, biographers and critics also contribute to the Carcanet ferment and firmament. Famous writers are not necessarily the best letter-writers, as editor Robyn Marsack discovered in trawling through the Carcanet Archive in the Rylands Library. The letters here are amusing, surprising, contentious, challenging. They were handwritten, typed, and now emailed -- the changing pattern is fascinating to see. This is a rare glimpse into the inner workings of a small, ambitious press. The book celebrates the writer’s, editor’s and reader’s risks, passions and pleasures.

With thanks to Arts Council England for their continued support of our work moving into our fiftieth year.

Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.

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