Two of the UK’s most important independent literary publishers, Anvil Press Poetry and Carcanet Press, have announced a merger that will relocate Anvil’s operations from Greenwich to Carcanet’s Manchester base. This will create “the most diverse world poetry list in the United Kingdom, and one of the great poetry lists in the Anglophone world,” according to the announcement on the move.
The press release for the merger, shared on both companies’ websites, declares that Anvil founder Peter Jay “is retiring from front line publishing to continue the writing and translation projects which have long been on his back burner.” The merger is hence more of a takeover by Carcanet, concurrent with Jay’s retirement. Jay himself said of the deal, “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.”
Anvil, founded in 1968 by Jay, is described in the release as “Britain’s longest-standing independent poetry publisher.” Carcanet Press describes itself on its website, modestly but mostly correctly, as “one of the outstanding independent literary publishers of our time.” According to the release, “Carcanet assumes full responsibility for the Anvil list which will become integral to Carcanet’s ongoing programme.”
British poetry would have been left far poorer if Anvil had simply closed. Post this deal, it appears that its best strengths stand a chance of being preserved and perpetuated by Carcanet. “Between them Carcanet and Anvil have six Nobel laureates, more than a dozen Pulitzer Prize-winners, and in 2014 Carcanet poets won the Forward Prize and the T.S. Eliot Award,” as the announcement explains. “Anvil’s extensive list of modern European poetry – including Celan, Popa, Lalic and Seferis in versions by exceptional poet-translators — is outstanding … It published the first four full collections by Carol Ann Duffy. Throughout its forty-seven year history it has maintained high design and production standards.” Carcanet , meanwhile, “as a press 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. In 2000 Carcanet was named the Sunday Times Small Publisher of the Year.”
Where Carcanet goes with this new list and scale is an interesting question. In any case, it seems quite a development for British poetry alongside National Poetry Day.