Manchester-based independent Comma Press has appointed actor Maxine Peake and writer Courttia Newland as its inaugural patrons.
Peake and Newland were selected for the roles as they appreciate the importance of bringing new perspectives from the margins into wider public consciousness and understand the value of art and literary translation in promoting internationalism and cultural exchange, the publisher said.
North-West born Peake, best known for her performances in "Shameless", "The Village" and "The Theory of Everything", said she was "really honoured" to be asked to be a patron for the publisher. "Comma are cultural and political trailblazers, and I’m looking forward to working with them to promote great writing talent, both from this region and beyond," she said.
Literary activist, author and playwright Newland added that he is "thrilled" to be workng with the publisher. "The timing couldn't be better for me to become a patron for Comma Press", Newland said. "I'd just bought their anthology Iraq + 100, and I'd been excitedly reading about their translation initiative when the invitation came. I'm so thrilled to be working with a publishing company that sees the enormous merits of the short story, and is committed to putting their political money where their mouth is. I look forward to exciting times ahead pushing the boundaries for writers and readers alike."
Newland is a contributor to Comma’s forthcoming anthology Protest! Stories of Resistance, which features short stories set against key moments of British protest from the Peasant’s Revolt of 1381 to the anti-Iraq War demos of 2003.
Ra Page, Comma Press' founder, said: "Now is the time, more than ever, for literary publishers and arts organizations to remind themselves what they’re in this business for: to build greater understanding across communities and audiences, and to offer alternatives to the ever-simplified narrative of division that runs rampant through other, less scrupulous media. Comma couldn’t imagine two people better suited to this cause; two artists whose activism and artistic integrity go hand in hand. For a modest organization like ours, this is a great honour."
Comma Press is a not-for-profit publishing initiative dedicated to developing new writing, with an emphasis on short narrative forms. In 2012, Comma became one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations and was recently awarded additional funding to head the Northern Fiction Alliance as part of their International Showcasing Programme.