New Words

new words artWe’ve just announced plans for our first virtual book festival and tickets are available now.

On Monday  1 March 2.30pm join Sarah Schofield at a creative writing workshop – FULL

Sarah’s back on Thursday 4 March at 5.30pm for a second writing workshopFULL

On Friday 5 March at 4pm join a creative writing workshop with SJ Bradley – FULL

Poet Martina Evans will be in conversation with publisher Michael Schmidt on Monday 8 March at 7pm. Get tickets.

On Tuesday 9 March at 7pm join poet Alan Baker for a reading and Q & A. Get tickets.

Join a poetry workshop with Dr James Davies on Saturday 13 March at 11am FULL

Be part of an hour or poetry and conversation with Rebecca Goss on Tuesday 16 March at 7pm. Get tickets.

Book launch! Join Donald S Murray talking about his new novel In a Veil of Mist on Thursday 11 March at 6.30pm. Get tickets.

Don’t miss The Brontës: Reimagined; Reappraised; Revisited with Adelle Hay and Dr Sophie Franklin on Wednesday 17 March at 6.30pm. Get tickets.

Naomi Booth will be in conversation about her latest novel, Exit Management on Wednesday 24 March at 2pm. Get tickets.

Castles from Cobwebs is the debut novel from J. A. Mensah and you can join her online on Friday 26 March. Get tickets.


new words art


The New Words Festival celebrates North West independent publishing. Our publisher partners for the project are Manchester’s Carcanet and Comma Press, Liverpool’s Dead Ink, Salford’s Saraband and Newton Le Willow’s Knives Forks and Spoons. The project is supported by public funding from Arts Council England.

To accompany the events you can find a new collection of New Reads Festival books, all available to reserve in your local libraries and all the books are available to buy online from the publishers.

Artist and designer Kim Hubball, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, has been commissioned to create striking new artwork to accompany the book collections plus posters, leaflets and bookmarks.  Take a look at the New Words book collection below to see what exciting new reads you’ll be able to borrow from libraries or buy directly from the publisher’s websites.



Carcanet is now in its fifth decade and a recent interview with Michael Schmidtis is available to read in The Telegraph. Carcanet publishes the most comprehensive and diverse list available of modern and classic poetry in English and in translation, as well as a range of inventive fiction, Lives and Letters and literary criticism. In 2000 it was named the Sunday Times millennium Small Publisher of the Year. Four of its authors have received Nobel Prizes, nine have received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, and six have received Pulitzer Prizes, among many other honours. Visit Carcanet to browse and buy Carcanet titles.

“It is impossible to imagine literary life in Britain without Carcanet.” William Boyd



Now We Can Talk Openly About Men by Martina Evans

Martina Evans’s Now We Can Talk Openly about Men is a pair of dramatic monologues, snapshots of the lives of two women in 1920s Ireland. The first, Kitty Donovan, is a dressmaker in the time of the Irish War of Independence. The second, Babe Cronin, is set in 1924, shortly after the Irish Civil War. Kitty is a dressmaker with a taste for laudanum. Babe is a stenographer who has fallen in love with a young revolutionary. Through their separate, overlapping stories, Evans colours an era and a culture seldom voiced in verse.

Read more about this book at Carcanet



Girl by Rebecca Goss

In Girl, Rebecca Goss considers the emotional and physical connections women make to the world around them. The poems interrogate and celebrate female identity and experience, and the dynamics of family and friendship. From a woman struck by lightning to a baby who understands shadows, Goss navigates the real and the imagined with equal flair.

Read more about this book


Comma Press

Comma Press is a not-for-profit publisher specialising in the short story and fiction in translation. We publish collections by new and established authors, interdisciplinary collaborations between authors and experts, and translation commissions devised to identify cutting-edge (often marginalised) voices from across the world.  In 2017 Comma Press won Northern Soul’s ‘Northern Publisher of the Year’ award, and in 2019 and 2020 were shortlisted by The British Book Awards for ‘Small Press of the Year’ (North of England).

Comma Press is a founding member of the Northern Fiction Alliance, a radical publishing collective devised to showcase the creativity, diversity and outward-looking agenda that sets publishers in the North of England apart. Comma Press also works as a writer development agency, delivering short story courses throughout the year, and hosting the annual National Creative Writing Industry Day.

You can browse and buy all Comma titles on the Comma Press website.


Protest: Stories of Resistance edited by Ra Page


Protest cover

Whatever happened to British protest? For a nation that brought the world Chartism, the Suffragettes, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, and so many other grassroots social movements, Britain rarely celebrates its long, great tradition of people power. In this timely and evocative collection, twenty authors have assembled to re-imagine key moments of British protest, from the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381 to the anti-Iraq War demo of 2003.

Find out more about the anthology and its contributors at Comma Press


Letters Home by Martyn Bedford


letters home

Many of the characters in Martyn Bedford’s stories find themselves at a point of redefinition, trading in their old identity for something new. Whether it is an act of retreat or escape fantasising about storming out of a thankless job, or just avoiding a bad-tempered husband for a few moments on Christmas day they each understand the first step in changing a reality, is to reconstruct it.

Find out more about this collection of short stories and its author at Comma Press

Dead Ink Books

Dead Ink Books are based in Liverpool and are focussed on developing the careers of new and emerging authors. Dead Ink books have three times made the shortlist for The Saboteur Awards, the longlists for both The Guardian’s First Book Award and Not the Booker Prize, and the longlist for the Edge Hill Short Story Award.

Keep up to date with Dead Ink events, workshops, releases and calls for submissions plus browse and buy books at the Dead Ink website.


Water Shall Refuse Them by Lucie McKnight Hardy

The heatwave of 1976. Following the accidental drowning of her sister, sixteen-year-old Nif and her family move to a small village on the Welsh borders to escape their grief. But rural seclusion doesnt bring any relief. As her family unravels, Nif begins to put together her own form of witchcraft collecting talismans from the sun-starved land. That is, until she meets Mally, a teen boy who takes a keen interest in her, and has his own secret rites to divulge.  Reminiscent of the suspense of Shirley Jackson and soaked in the folkhorror of English heritage, Water Shall Refuse Them is an atmospheric coming-of-age novel and a thrilling debut.

Find out more about novel at Dead Ink Books



Please Read This Leaflet Carefully by Karen Havlin

Written in first person and following a reverse chronology which subverts the typical illness story, Please Read This Leaflet Carefully follows Laura Fjellstad in her struggles to live a normal life. Having been diagnosed with severe endometriosis in her twenties, she believes that the only way to survive her painful and debilitating illness is to be completely self-reliant. In between doctors’ appointments and in and out of hospitals, Laura confronts single parenting after her divorce, leading a life her own teenage self would be in awe of.

Find out more about this novel at Dead Ink Books

Knives, Forks and Spoons

Knives, Forks and Spoons Press was established by Alec Newman in April 2010. An independent publishing house based in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, the press publishes avant-garde and experimental poetry, full collections, pamphlets and anthologies. 

“One of the most prolific and intelligent small poetry presses.” Ian Brinton Tears in the Fence

KFS started out as a publisher of poetry pamphlets in 2010. In 2012, KFS started publishing full collections of poetry. In 2013, Robert Hampson’s Reworked Disasters received a Highly Commended in the Forward Prize For Poetry. In 2014, KFS was awarded Arts Council Funding to publish and promote 10 poets. The press’s output has diversified to cover a wider range of experimental styles.

Find out more and buy on the Forks, Knives and Spoons website


Many Red Fish by Steve Spence

Many Red Fish is a kind of absurd diary, a contemplation of the world out there and the world in here, produced through a mixing of word association, montage techniques and strange juxtapositions. Extreme weather, food – whether gathered from bins or prepared in restaurants – art, the city and the country, music, colour and the human body are all subjects which are brought together and reconsidered in this new poetry collection. 

Find out more about this poetry collection at Knives, Forks and Spoons website


Riverrun by Alan Baker

Poets have their rivers – Charlotte Smith has the Arun, Michael Drayton the Ankor – and like these precursors, Alan Baker has picked the sonnet as the vehicle to translate the ever-changing fluvial reality of water at its riverrine transformations into a stop-go sequence, that changes perspective with each fresh look, each new thought.

Find out more about this poetry collection at Knives Forks and Spoons


Saraband publish engaging non-fiction across a range of memoir, history, nature and environment titles. Authors celebrate extraordinary human achievement, explore cultural traditions and champion planet Earth and its diverse species. Saraband also publish literary and historical fiction from all corners of the UK and from overseas, sometimes in translation. Under their sister imprint, Contraband, they publish fiction exploring the darker side of human experience: crime, mystery, dystopia and transgressive voices, including Man Booker-shortlisted Graeme Macrae Burnet. Saraband books are available from your local independent bookshop, so please support them by ordering books there.

Visit the Saraband website to browse their books and add to your booklist.


Anne Bronte Reimagined: A View from the Twenty-first Century by Adelle Hay

Anne: the boring Bronte? Or talented author, feminist, pioneer? Anne’s writing has often been compared harshly with that of Charlotte and Emily – used as a measure of her sisters’ genius. But her literary and personal reputations have changed drastically since she was first published in 1846.

Read more about this book at Saraband


Incandescent by Anna Levin

We need to talk about light. Light is changing, dramatically. Our world is getting brighter – you can see it from space. But is brighter always better? Artificial light is voracious and spreading. Vanquishing precious darkness across the planet, when we are supposed to be using less energy. The quality of light has altered as well. Technology and legislation have crushed warm incandescent lighting in favour of harsher, often glaring alternatives.

Read more about this book at Saraband