Anvil and Carcanet poetry presses merge

Anvil and Carcanet poetry presses merge

Independent poetry publishers Anvil Press Poetry and Carcanet Press are merging operations to publish from Manchester “the most diverse world poetry list in the United Kingdom”.

Greenwich-based Anvil Press Poetry and Manchester-based Carcanet were founded in the late 1960s (1968 and 1969) and originated from poetry magazines, New Measure and Carcanet respectively. They have each operated under the direction of their founders, Peter Jay at Anvil Poetry Press and Michael Schmidt at Carcanet, for over four decades. The two presses have many common attributes and share authors and as well as an international outlook, and commitment to translation and to Anglophone poetry from around the world.

The companies said there were no implications for staff  in the merger since "last man standing" at Anvil, Peter Jay, is retiring to turn his attention to writing and translation projects. Carcanet's founder Michael Schmidt told The Bookseller: "We've always exchanged notes and and really been quite close - and never quite competing as it's complementary - so it's been a very natural process. 

"Peter realised that he wanted to retire but the only way of doing so - without closing down - was to find a home. And so it really was a very positive thing.

"The Arts Council invested quite heavily over the years and I think they were quite troubled by the possibility it would be a waste of that husbandry. I think they're quite pleased the merger is taking place. 

"Carcanet Press in a sense grew out of Anvil. Peter inspired and catalysed our programme and it is a great pleasure to bring the two together into a single operation. They have always been family.”

Carcanet produce between 30 and 45 new titles a year, while Anvil’s smaller operation publishes between six and 10.

Between them, Carcanet and Anvil have six Nobel laureates and more than a dozen Pulitzer Prize-winners. Carcanet's poets last year won the Forward Prize and the T.S. Eliot Award, and as a press it has received the IPG Alison Morrison Diversity Award and was shortlisted for the Inkubate Trade Publisher of the Year Award and the Bookseller Best Independent Publisher Award.

Anvil published the first four full collections by Carol Ann Duffy and its extensive list of modern European poetry includes Celan, Popa, Lalic and Seferis in versions by exceptional poet-translators and also published writers from the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent, the Far East and Latin America. 

Carcanet has a comparable list, with an especially strong Commonwealth list, though ranges beyond poetry into fiction, essays and other genres, too. 

Jay said: “It is wonderful for our poets that Anvil is moving to the best possible home with Carcanet, a publisher for which I have always had enormous respect and admiration.”

Carcanet assumes full responsibility for the Anvil list, which will become integral to Carcanet’s ongoing programme.