Saturday, 23 January 2010


Tall-lighthouse, the popular London-based poetry publisher, began its Pilot scheme in April 2007 with the aim of publishing pamphlets by a number of promising poets under the age of 30. This enables young writers to hone and show off their material, for the most part prior to releasing full collections, giving readers a taster of their style and what's potentially still to come.

Roddy Lumsden, editor of the series, takes a very hands-on approach to the poetry, which makes all the difference. But then Roddy has always taken an interest in promoting new writing and helping young poets to get the best from their work, be it through critique, his regular Broadcast events or the workshops he organises through the Poetry School. The end result for the Pilot pamphlets consists of tight, quick-witted snapshots that give an excellent cross-section of emerging poetic talent.

Let's have a peep at the pamphlets themselves. Striking and more than a little corporal in red, white and black, they're quite minimalist too. The format is the same for each - a clean snowy background, a splash of red and a small b/w image on red that is unique to that pamphlet. Abi Curtis's 'humbug' sports a patterned snail's shell, while Ben Wilkinson's 'the sparks' features lightning striking the ground beside a ragged tree. It's definitely an interesting approach to maintaining a coherent and recognisable look to the series without sacrificing the individuality of the content in each case. I do, however, wish that you could see the full cover of each on the t-l site, instead of just the unique image for that collection - it's a good look for the site, but you lose that exciting something about buying a book when you can imagine how it looks as a whole and practically feel it in your hand.

The Pilot pamphlets have come in for high praise: Jay Bernard and Kate Potts have been awarded Poetry Book Society Recommendations for 'your sign is cuckoo, girl' and 'whichever music', respectively, and Potts was also shortlisted for the inaugral Michael Marks Award. Sadly, thsi excellent scheme can't survive on praise alone, even with some support from the Arts Council, so do investigate the site and stop by the shop. At £4 a pop, getting into the Pilot pamphlets is a pretty pocket-friendly venture.

The full chronological list of the Pilot pamphlets is as follows:

Abi Curtis - humbug
Adam O'Riordan - queen of the cotton cities
Camellia Stafford - another pretty colour, another break for air
Gareth Jones - weekend millionnaires
Jay Bernard - your sign is cuckoo, girl
Miriam Gamble - this man's town
John McCullough - the lives of ghosts
Retta Bowen - the ornamental world
Kate Potts - whichever music
Vidyan Ravinthiran - at home or nowhere
Ben Wilkinson - the sparks
Emily Berry - stingray fevers
Amy Key - instead of stars
Sarah Howe - a certain chinese encyclopedia
Charlotte Runcie - seventeen horse skeletons
Richard O'Brien - your own devices
NEW Ailbhe Darcy - a fictional dress
NEW Simon Pomery - the stream

Treat yourself!


Tall-lighthouse calls home.
Our review of Charlotte Runcie's 'Seventeen Horse Skeletons' can be found here.

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