Chatto acquires debut poetry collection exploring Grenfell fire

Chatto acquires debut poetry collection exploring Grenfell fire

Chatto & Windus has acquired a "powerful" debut poetry collection exploring the New Cross massacre of 1981 and the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

Authored by Jay Bernard, the collection is pitched as "a queer exploration of the black British archive", tracing a line between two events: the New Cross Massacre of 1981, in which 13 young black people were killed in a house fire, and the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

Poetry editor Parisa Ebrahimi acquired World rights directly from the author to publish the collection in 2019.

Ebrahimi said the collection was "one of our most exciting debut collections yet" and would be a "monumentally important book".

"Jay Bernard is a poet with a mighty heart and a powerful social conscience, able to stradle the personal and the political with uncanny articulacy," she added.

Bernard is the author of the pamphlets Your Sign is Cuckoo, Girl (Tall Lighthouse, 2008), English Breakfast (Math Paper Press, 2013) and The Red and Yellow Nothing (Ink Sweat & Tears Press, 2016), which was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award 2017. Bernard was also a Foyle Young Poet of the Year in 2005 and a winner of SLAMbassadors UK spoken word championship.

According to Vintage, its imprints are "looking ahead fo an exciting year of poetry". Chatto is publishing in July a new pamphlet from Liz Berry (winner of the Forward Prize for Best First Collection for her debut collection, Black Country), as well as a "moving, elegiac" collection of new poems from Ruth Padel, entitled Emerald. In August, Cape will be publishing a second collection from Guardian First Book Award winning poet Andrew McMillan, too, entitled Playtime.