Alongside Ryan Madin, I am co-founder and editor of Wild West Press. We created Wild West Press in 2018 to provide publishing opportunities for local creatives in South Yorkshire. We wanted to create beautiful limited-edition books about subjects important to us. We wanted to bring in artists from other art forms to collaborate alongside the poets we published.
We believe in paying all the creatives that we work with. We also believe in keeping money within our local economy by using local and independent businesses.
Zi Zi Taah Taah Taah
Our debut publication, Zi Zi Taah Taah Taah features poems by Steve Ely and illustrations by PR.
Zi Zi Taah Taah Taah won the 2018 Michael Marks Illustration Prize at the British Library for PR artwork.
It was released in May 2018 in a limited edition run of 300. We partnered with Back from the Brink, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust for the project and launched it with a poetry walk around Carlton Marsh.
The poems arise from and address the plight of the willow tit, one of the country’s fastest declining species of bird. Since 1970, the willow tit’s numbers have declined by 95%. Paradoxically, the post-industrial sites of the North—former colliery and industrial sites, disused railway lines and canals—often provide very good willow tit habitat, and the species still hangs on in reasonable numbers in South Yorkshire, where our three partners are conducting extensive research that will produce results that might inform a nationwide recovery project for the bird.
Zi-Zi Taah Taah Taah confronts and addresses the depredations of the Anthropocene, but in a way that avoids on-the-nose eco-ranting, adding depth and range by incorporating autobiography, memory, humour and pop-cultural references into its expression. The sequence culminates in the appalling revelation of the meaning of the willow tit’s song and the following Blakean apocalypse: ‘The dead were dead already. The quick/transformed in air. All the quick were dead save me.’ PR’s elusive watercolours add a moving elegiac dimension to the pamphlet—and intensify Ely’s evocation of a world on the edge of disintegration, of once-familiar nature beginning to pass away.
Just a Kid from Cortonwood
Our second publication, Just a Kid from Cortonwood is the debut pamphlet of poems from Mick Pettinger. The book features black and white photography from Mark Antony. Mick is a writer from Cortonwood and Mark is a photographer from Doncaster.
Produced in a limited run of 150 copies. We launched to a sold-out audience of 60 people (even had a reserve list!—huge thank you to everyone who came out and made it a special night) at Doncaster Brewery & Tap in February 2020.
Just a Kid from Cortonwood explores Mick’s autobiography of growing up in South Yorkshire. Here’s what Ian McMillan had to say about it.
This is precisely what we saw Wild West Press as being for, serving our local community and providing opportunities to those who would benefit the most and promoting them to a wider audience.
One In, All In
Our third publication, One In, All In is an anthology of football poetry. We wanted to create an anthology with a difference. We focused on the quality of work over quantity of poets we could cram in. We created a concept rather than just hanging a theme over the book. Wild West Press became AFC Wild West Press.
This anthology we would create a team of 11 poets. We wanted to design and produce a limited-edition football shirt with the poets’ names and numbers on the back.
Ryan took on the role as Gaffer. I became the Director of Football. Of course, we’d be playing 4-4-2. Tunnocks agreed to sponsor our shirts and supply our dressing room with half-time snacks.
We needed some statement signings. A South Yorkshire spine. Andrew McMillan in net. Ian McMillan at centre half. Helen Mort on the wing. And Steve Ely up front with the captain’s armband.
We opened up submissions from around the world. 7 spots left. We were pretty taken aback by the response. We weren’t interested in if you’d won the Costa Poetry Prize. We were only interested if you were willing to die for 3 points.
The rest of the team included—Elinor Clark, Luca Goaten, Aaron Kent, Kayleigh Campbell, PR, Orla Foster, & Jamie Thrasivilou.
The opportunity to sign a super-sub landed on our desk one morning. Mike Garry. We gave him the 58 shirt to honour the beautiful Busby Babes.
We needed someone to write the foreword for the book. AFC Wild West Press needed a Club President. There was only one person we wanted. Ken Loach.
Ken was on board straight away. We gave him the number 16 in honour of his 16 Films Production company.
One In, All In launched in October 2020 as part of Off The Shelf Literature Festival at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.
Our books are stocked in places we buy stuff from ourselves.
The Cooper Gallery, Barnsley
La Biblioteka, Sheffield
London Review Bookshop, London
Rare Mags, Stockport
The Nature Library, pop-up across Scotland
Our online shop is here.
Fancy a chat? Drop us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org