Burning Eye hunts for BAME poets

Somerset-based poetry publisher Burning Eye Books is on the hunt for three BAME poets for its 2019 list.

The press, which publishes 20 books a year, has put out a call for BAME poets aged 25 and over who have not previously published a collection to submit to them in a bid to “reach out to those who might be excluded from other opportunities because of age or location or ethnic background.”

Editor Bridget Hart told The Bookseller: “We have a long standing policy of gender equality and currently publish  55% poetry by women, but 13% of people of colour which we feel is too low. Of our open submissions calls we mostly attract white poets, so this call out is to show BAME writers that we are interested in their work, and we want to support everyone.”

The submissions will be judged by Burning Eye poety Shagufta K Iqbal, and the deadline for submissions is 1st July 2018.

The three successful poets will receive a publishing deal and will perform at special book launch in Bristol.

Hart said: “There is a literary movement happening right now where spoken word and performance are changing how we engage with poetry whilst taking on the tradition of commentating our uncertain political times. It is an expression of self and ideas that is richer than some people give it credit for. Burning Eye Books is somewhere in the middle of all of this, we want to offer a poetry list that is representative of British voices and that cannot be done without BAME contributions.”

The performance poetry press is accepting audio and video submissions to make the process more accessible and to add a new dimension to the submissions.

Hart added: “Diversity in UK poetry has made major improvements since 2005 when the Arts Council spent 1% of it’s funding on BAME writers. There are some great collectives and organisations like Spread the Word, Words of Colour, festivals like Bare Lit and publishing houses like Out-Spoken Press dedicated to elevating conversations and spaces for non-white poets. We live in a very tense time where we are increasingly aware of how the dynamic of public spaces are changing.

“We are moving positively in some corners of the scene, but we still have a long way to go, and a competition like this will hopefully help to push that idea. We are not the first small press to put this forward, and we hope that more will do it after us.”

The call-out follows similar moves by fellow indies Influx Press and Offord Road Books to improve the diversity of their lists.

Written By: Natasha Onwuemezi

First Published 14.05.18: https://www.thebookseller.com/news/burning-eye-bame-pen-submissions-call-784651

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