Shearsman Library

Richard Berengarten  Avebury

The Shearsman Library 5
Published April 2018. Chapbook, 32pp, 8.5 x 5.5ins, £6.50 / $9.95
ISBN 9781848615892 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]

Avebury first appeared as a slim volume in 1972, from Anvil Press, and remains something of an outlier in the author’s work. A sequence of poems triggered by the remarkable standing stones at Avebury in Wiltshire – older than Stonehenge, which is not too far away, but part of the same evidently sacred landscape. 


Cover of Richard Berengarten - Avebury
Martin Booth  The Knotting Poems

The Shearsman Library 12
Published October 2018. Paperback, 116pp, 8.5 x 5.5ins, £9.95 / $17
ISBN 9781848615953 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]

In 1977 and 1981, Martin Booth — then a poet and small-press publisher, but today better-known as a novelist — published two collections of work about Knotting, the Bedfordshire village where he then lived: The Knotting Sequence and The Cnot Dialogues. The books were published in fine, limited-run editions by The Elizabeth Press in New Rochelle, New York, and few copies travelled across the Atlantic. Indeed, the second of the two books was one of the final books to be published by Elizabeth and received only limited distribution. Here we have spliced the two books together, otherwise unchanged.

Cover of Martin Booth - The Knotting Poems
Harry Guest  Elegies

The Shearsman Library 10
Published August 2018. Chapbook, 32pp, 8.5 x 5.5ins, £6.50 / $9.95
ISBN 9781848615960 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]

Harry Guest’s remarkable sequence of Elegies were first published as a chapbook in 1980 by Pig Press in Durham, and were later collected in Lost and Found a large collection of the author’s work in 1983. here we take the chance to return the poems to their original chapbook environment, convinced that the world still needs work like this. Still available in the author’s Anvil collected poems, A Puzzling Harvest, they benefit from being able to breathe more easily in their original form…
Cover of Harry Guest - Elegies
Lee Harwood  HMS Little Fox

The Shearsman Library 11
Published October 2018. Paperback, 100pp, 9 x 6ins, £9.95 / $17
ISBN 9781848615939 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]

This was Lee Harwood’s first major collection after his remarkable sequence of Fulcrum volumes (The White Room, Landscapes and The Sinking Colony) had established him as one of the most interesting younger poets in the England. HMS Little Fox shows Harwood striking out in new directions, some of which were not be further developed, but it also shows evidence of his mature style. Although available in the author’s Collected (Shearsman, 2004), this volume faithfully reproduces the original edition, with its postcard images, Egyptian sigils, and also one poem that the author decided to exclude from his Collected.

Cover of Lee Harwood - HMS Little Fox
Christopher Middleton  Serpentine

The Shearsman Library 3
Published February 2018. 
Paperback, 120pp, 8.5 x 5.5ins, £9.95 / $17
ISBN 9781848615861 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]

Serpentine was first published by Oasis Books in 1985 in a deliberately low-tech edition. Alas, it made little headway and the somewhat shoddy production almost certainly militated against its adoption by bookshops. It thus became Middleton’s “lost book”, although parts have been reprinted elsewhere. Subtitled (at least in the author’s correspondence, if not in the published edition) “prose pieces on the nature of evil”, the book shows Middleton at his playful, experimental best.


Cover of Christopher Middleton - Serpentine
Frances Presley  The Sex of Art

The Shearsman Library 7
Published April 2018. Paperback, 92pp, 8.5 x 5.5ins, £9.95 / $17
ISBN 9781848615946 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]

The Sex of Art was Frances Presley’s first collection, from 1985. Although much of it has reappeared in other guises, in Paravane and also in Shearsman’s own Myne (2006), the entire book has not been republished and its structure — mixing prose and poetry freely — is unclear if one does not see as it was originally conceived. This edition gives the work a little more air than in the original — avoiding run-on texts — but is otherwise unchanged.

Cover of Frances Presley - The Sex of Art
Jeremy Reed  The Isthmus of Samuel Greenberg

The Shearsman Library 6
Published April 2018. Paperback, 68pp, 8.5 x 5.5ins, £9.95 / $16
ISBN 9781848615908 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]

Isthmus was Jeremy Reed’s first collection, produced in a finely-printed edition by Asa Benveniste’s Trigram Press in 1980. Overwrought, perhaps even over-written, it shows the author struggling with a gamut of new influences — some of them provided by Benveniste – and trying to find his way in a brane new world of poetry. The book has an American theme, and shows much American influence, albeit undigested in places, but Reed’s individuality brings it all together.


Cover of Jeremy Reed - The Isthmus of Samuel Greenberg
Gig Ryan  Manners of an Astronaut

The Shearsman Library 4
Published February 2018. 
Paperback, 86pp, 8.5 x 5.5ins, £9.95 / $17
ISBN 9781848615885 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]

Manners of an Astronaut was Gig Ryan’s second collection, from 1984, and confirmed the striking impression she had made with her first book. It has been unavailable for some time although parts have reappeared in her Selected Poems (Bloodaxe in the UK, Giramondo in Australia, as New & Selected). As Martin Johnston said in a blurb for the first edition: “it marks … something new in Australian poetry: a deeply coherent ’discontinuous narrative’ in verse of hallucinatory vividness and continual wry wit, autobiographical without a trace of the derivatively confessional, lacerating without self-pity, demanding without pretentiousness or condescension. No one will find it comfortable reading. Ryan’s craftsmanship is impeccable, her vision bullshit-proof: both qualities to be greeted with loud hosannas.”
Nathaniel Tarn & Janet Rodney  Alashka

The Shearsman Library 1
Published February 2018. 
Paperback, 180pp, 9 x 6ins, £10.95 / $18
ISBN 9781848615854 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]

Alashka is a lost book. It was first published as half of a very large, well-printed volume in 19798, spliced together with Tarn’s Selected Poems up until that point. The publisher was a new outfit in Boulder, Colorado, called Brillig Works and born in an eponymous bookstore. Distribution was poor, and fitful, and copies were notoriously hard to come by. This ensured that what was, in effect, Janet Rodney’s first collection, vanished from view. Also, a valuable expansion of tarn’s anthro-poetics, gained little or no attention, whether in Alaska or in the lower states. The book finally gets its own set of covers here, and a chance to find its own niche.
Cover of Nathaniel Tarn & Janet Rodney - Alashka
Nathaniel Tarn  At the Western Gates

The Shearsman Library 2
Published February 2018. 
Paperback, 106pp, 9 x 6ins, £9.95 / $17
ISBN 9781848615878 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]

At the Western Gates was published in 1984 by the splendidly-named Tooth of Time Press in New Mexico, and contained five longish sequences that are central to Tarn’s work in the 1980s. In this new edition, a sixth sequence from the same period, 'Birdscapes with Seaside', has been added.


Cover of Nathaniel Tarn - At the Western Gates
Nathaniel Tarn  The Desert Mothers

The Shearsman Library 8
Published April 2018. Chapbook, 68pp, 9 x 6ins, £9.95 / $17
ISBN 9781848615915 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]

This volume was a chapbook, first published in Mississippi in 1985, and demonstrates in shorter poems how Tarn’s work was developing in the '80s. It contains some remarkable work that stands up today, as fresh as the year in which the book was first published. In this secdon edition, the original contents are joined by three other long sequences from the same period.

Cover of Nathaniel Tarn - The Desert Mothers
Nathaniel Tarn  The House of Leaves

The Shearsman Library 9
Published August 2018. Paperback, 176pp, 9 x 6ins, £10.95 / $18
ISBN 9781848615922 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]

Nathaniel Tarn emigrated to the USA in the early 1970s, and took up a position teaching at Rutgers in New Jersey, he quickly confirmed his new identity as an American poet by publishing two major volumes: Lyrics from the Bride of God, a book-length work, with New Directions, which is still in print, and this collection, which was published on the opposite coast by Black Sparrow Press. Both books staked out his territory in a startling manner, and laid the foundations for a burgeoning oeuvre.
Cover of Nathaniel Tarn - The House of Leaves