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Free Verse


What is Free Verse?

Why is British poetry still very much a closed (book)shop to black and Asian writers and what can be done about it.?

Why have so few new Black and Asian poets been published in the UK in the past 10 years and why is poetry publishing so far behind the amazingly diverse world of fiction?

Despite the high profile achieved by ethnic poets on the performance circuit, very few are making it into print. What can be done to address this situation and where does responsibility lie: with the publishing industry or the poets themselves?

A new report: Free Verse, has been funded by Arts Council England and produced by Spread the Word

London organisation running creative writing workshops for writers at all stages, with a focus on new writing and live literature, and encouraging innovation and experimentation.

, and ties in with research conducted into how ethnic minority writing is represented in bookshops.

After a year of researching poets and publishers throughout the UK, the group has produced a final report which looks at the results, talks to a range of poets and publishers, and offers some practical advice to both poets and publishers on how they can make a difference.

Free Verse contains conversations with Bernardine Evaristo, and poets Valerie Mason-Johnand Daljit Nagra. It also features interviews with poetry editors Neil Astley (Bloodaxe), Paul Keegan (Faber) and Michael Schmidt (Carcanet) and a host of other high profile writers and publishing people.

Free Verse has highlighted the issues facing Black and Asian poets who want to be published, and the issues facing poetry presses who wish to publish them.

The report covers:

  • Setting up Free Verse.
  • The results of the first ever survey into opportunities for Black and Asian poets.
  • The sound barrier: minority ethnic poets are breaking through on the stage but not the page.
  • Come the revolution: what is stopping poetry publishers publishing more minority ethnic poets?
  • Debate between writer Bernardine Evaristo and publisher Neil Astley.
  • How do you find and keep a mentor?
  • How poets make ends meet.
  • Faber's Paul Keegan and Carcanet's Michael Schmidt reveal the recipe for getting spotted.
  • Where do you go to get funding?
  • The road ahead: What can YOU do now?
  • And much more

Read the Free Verse report online

Because we think the report's advice for poets on how to get published are so useful (to all poets), we reprint them here in full.