Haunting Literature

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With West North East, the first full-length collection by leading South Yorkshire poet Matthew Clegg, fresh off its presses, Hillsborough-based poetry publisher Longbarrow Press is hosting a showcase of some of its work at an Off the Shelf event on Sunday.

It takes the form of an evening of narrative poetry at The Fat Cat, called appropriately for a few days before Halloween, Street Haunting,

Poet launch book'Brian Lewis (left) of Longbarrow Press with Matthew Clegg whose first collection of poems,  West North East,has been published

Poet launch book'Brian Lewis (left) of Longbarrow Press with Matthew Clegg whose first collection of poems, West North East,has been published

Founded in 2006 by editor Brian Lewis, the press has published work by other established and emerging Sheffield and South Yorkshire based poets including Angelina Ayers, Chris Jones and Fay Musselwhite.

“The ethos of the press from the outset was a close collaboration as publisher with each of the poets exploring and developing their work into a collection either in pamphlet and book form and also the idea of audio works,” explains Lewis.

“We also aim to encourage collaboration between poets and visual artists, film-makers and musicians.

“We did a series of recordings with Rod Hindle a couple of years ago for his sequence on highwayman Spencer Broughton. It was a rich and resonant piece of local history and we recorded at the Hilltop chapel near where he was hanged and it gave it a unique ambience.”

Part of Matt Clegg’s West North South is set at Flamborough Head, an atmospheric place to record on location and the poet believes that a soundscape helps to bring out the texture in the work.

Other ideas Lewis has had for presenting poetry in innovative formats are matchboxes in which text is presented in a concertina format - 50-odd pages in short bites - and a set of four postcards with pictures on one side, poems on the other.

A long barrow is a prehistoric monument in the form of a mound and Lewis chose it for the name of the press because there were a lot of them in Wiltshire where he set up the press in his home town of Swindon before moving back last year to Sheffield where he had come to study for an MA in contemporary literature in the late Nineties.

“The name gives a connection with landscape which is the kind of area we deal with and a core part of what we do.”

Lewis likes to work with a small number of poets - 12 or 13 since he set the press up in 2006 - in order to maintain a close relationship.

Most of them are from Sheffield, though we have writers in Cheltenham, Brighton and Berlin, Working in Sheffield allows us to forge relationships between poets. An example being the next project, a walking-themed anthology, The Footing, to be published by Longbarrow Press on October 30 and featuring poems by Angelina Ayers, James Caruth, Mark Goodwin, Rob Hindle, Andrew Hirst, Chris Jones and Fay Musselwhite (all of whom are Sheffield-based - apart from Mark Goodwin).