The future is bright for Penned in the Margins, the literary arts producer and independent publisher, after its inclusion on this year’s Arts Council England (ACE) National Portfolio Organisation funding list.
Director Tom Chivers founded the company 10 years ago, organising readings in a coverted railway arch in south London. Since then it has produced over 200 events, combining literature and language with another art form. Chivers said: “Literature feels to me like a formalisation of an art form, the core for me is about language and words.”
Penned in the Margins’ first book was published in 2006 (Peckham Blue by Susie Gordon, out of print); it now publishes around 10 books a year. It will receive £135,000 from ACE over a three-year period (2015–2018). Chivers said: “We’ve been very lucky with support from ACE for individual projects in the past but we’ve never had regular funding. The regularity is what you need because we’ve had eight years of precarious living. We can set aside some cash, skill and time to some proper publicity and marketing. Three years of funding enables us to know we’re going to exist and plan that far in advance.”
Chivers is working on a one-woman theatre show based on a book of poetry he published last year, The Shipwrecked House by Claire Trévien (£8.99), which was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. Released this month ncluded In the Catacombs: A Summer Among the Dead Poets of West Norwood Cemetery by Chris McCabe (£12.99), the first in a series in which each book will focus on one of London’s cemeteries. Chivers said: “It’s kind of literary criticism, but in a really unusual way. Chris—a poet and librarian—believes there is a great dead poet who has been lost to the canon.” McCabe explored West Norwood, finding poets and researching them, and compared their work against the great Victorian poets.
Marginalia: Ten Years of Poems and Texts from Penned in the Margins (September, £9.99), edited by Chivers, will celebrate Penned in the Margins’ 10th anniversary. Midland by Honor Gavin (£12.99), an experimental novel about the growth and decay of 1960s Birmingham, follows in October.