‘The mouthmark Book of Poetry’ is an anthology of the individual-author titles published under the mouthmark poetry pamphlet series, comprising the work of Nick Makoha, Inua Ellams, Jacob Sam-La Rose, Jessica Horn, Truth Thomas, Denise Saul, Malika Booker, Janett Plummer and Warsan Shire. The series was conceived by flipped eye publishing’s senior editor, Nii Ayikwei Parkes, as a means to get poets from non-mainstream backgrounds – including performance – into print.
It was revolutionary for two reasons; first, it was a pamphlet series developed with a specific aim (later, tall-lighthouse would launch its pilot series, and, much later, Faber would launch its New Poets Initiative); second, it was a finite series – to end after ten pamphlets. After some success with the first two pamphlets in the series, Nick Makoha’s ‘The Lost Collection of an Invisible Man’ (2005) and Inua Ellams’ ’13 Fairy Negro Tales’ (2005), the Arts Council of England provided funding for the next four. It took six years for the series to be completed, but its impact far exceeded expectations.
Authors such as Inua Ellams, Jacob Sam-La Rose (later editor of the last pamphlet in the series), Nick Makoha and Warsan Shire, have risen to international prominence; three of the pamphlets were cited by the Poetry Book Society pamphlet selectors for their quality; five of the poets have since been chosen for the ground-breaking national Complete Works development programme for UK poets of minority ethnic backgrounds; and Truth Thomas’s from his pamphlet ‘Party of Black’ (2006) was chosen for Nikki Giovanni’s ‘The 100 Best African American Poems’ (Sourcebooks, 2010). Crucially, the series retailed admirably as well, with over 10,000 copies sold at events – and through conventional retail channels. Now, with the release of ‘The mouthmark Book of Poetry’, readers can experience all nine individual poets published under the mouthmark poetry pamphlet series in this collectible volume that retains hallmarks of the iconic series, such as the distinctive brown paper-look cover with bold black designs.