Episode 90: Broken Sleep Books


I speak with Aaron Kent, the publisher of UK’s Broken Sleep Books, in our ongoing conversation with small presses.

Aaron talks about the name of the press and also its tag line: lay out your unrest. which comes from J. H. Prynne’s Smaller Than the Radius of the Planet, the White Stones (Grosseteste Press, 1969, republished by NYRB Poets in 2016)
Aaron’s love of all kinds of poetry informs the direction of BSB. He loves poetry. He discusses the original concept of publishing poetry in tape cassette cases.

I ask about the editorial board, a ten-person team. Charlie Baylis is the assistant editor, and how the submission process works.

Anthropocene Press is Charlie’s small press.

Emma Kennedy, Aaron’s wife, does the admin.

Day Mattar handles reviews and e-mailing magazines and journals.

Cathleen Allyn Conway is the prose editor.

We talk about whether there’s a difference between pamphlets and chapbooks. Aaron talks about Legitimate Snacks, a series of pamphlets.
The Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets

We talk about the community aspect of BSB. Aaron discusses the degentrification of poetry and the importance of community.

Aaron discusses the evolution of the design of BSB. We talk about the covers. We also discuss Aaron’s health crisis a few years ago. They do about 72 books a year.

We talk about the anthologies that BSB makes. Aaron talks specifically about Crossing Lines An Anthology of Immigrant Poetry and Hit Points – An anthology of video game poetry and the forthcoming eco-poetry anthology. The anthologies are opportunities to fundraise for causes and individuals.

I ask Aaron for advice for those who want to start a small press. I rant about how much i loathe the word “best.”

Note of Praise

Broken Sleep Books is a caring press that puts community and inclusivity at the center of its practice. It publishes visceral, and compelling work. Reading through several individual pamphlets and the 2021 anthology, I felt the unrest inherent in the work. There is a sense of urgency to the poems, along with humour, astonishing imagery, and a variety of styles from sprung rhythm to visual poetry.  I learned of many writers I hadn’t heard of before, not just from UK, but also from USA and other places, such as Trinidad and Tobago. Broken Sleep? I’d say “never sleeps.” It’s difficult to imagine how Aaron and his team find the time and energy to do all that they do.

Thank you to Aaron for being on the show, to Jennifer Pederson for the intro and outro, to Charles Earl for processing and to you for listening to and sharing the episodes each month.

Stay tuned for future episodes with Knife Fork Book, Hesterglock Press, Beir Bua, Ethel Zine, and Hem Press. I’m having such fun chatting with small presses that I might continue the theme into next year!