From  Poetry in theHeartlands, 19th September, 2008

I've had a soft spot for Flarestack ever since I was in a poetry group with Charles Johnson when I first started writing poetry seriously. He set up Flarestack when he was at Redditch Library, mainly as a means of providing local poets with pamphlets they could sell at readings; it quickly built up a reputation for publishing innovative poetry that was not afraid to take risks. When Charles moved to Somerset, he took Flarestack with him, along with his magazine, Obsessed with Pipework, and both went from strength to strength, each pamphlet individually designed by Charles. Over more than fifteen years, Flarestack has built up a formidable reputation, with poems appearing in the Forward anthology and an honourable mention by Neil Astley in his article in The Poetry Writer's Handbook. When, after more than twelve years of writing poetry, I finally decided it was time to put a collection together, it was inevitable that I would submit it to Charles, though actually I didn't submit anything; Charles accepted it without seeing any of Blue until I delivered the completed manuscript.

Earlier this year, I heard that Charles was thinking of giving up the pamphlet publishing wing of Flarestack (he will continue to publish Obsessed with Pipework). I've been interested in publishing for a long time, possibly all my life, so I was keen to take it on, as, I soon discovered, was Meredith Andrea, whose Grasshopper Inscriptions is also published by Flarestack. After some intensive discussion and planning we were able to put a proposal to Charles as to how we would keep the spirit of Flarestack alive. We will begin publishing in autumn 2009, and our imprint will be called FLARESTACK POETS; Flarestack, under Charles Johnson, will continue to publish, until that time, pamphlets whose characteristic originality we aim to perpetuate with Flarestack Poets.

Flarestack pamphlets have a reputation for quality and diversity, and for encouraging work from new and established voices. To mark the launch of Flarestack Poets with new work, the first pamphlets to be published will come from the winners of a competition to be judged anonymously by Meredith and myself. The closing date is 28th February 2009. We're looking for poetry that dares outside current trends, even against the grain... collections that aren't bus queues or even greatest hits albums, from poets who are forging their own linguistic connections with the root-ball of experience.

Jacqui Rowe

Poetry in the Heartlands