Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

BOOKS Any Irons in the Fire? It's Nearly 40 Years since North East Press Iron Came into Being. Editor Peter Mortimer's Latest Venture Is an Open Call to Publish Eight Original New Poets, as He Tells Tamzin Lewis

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

BOOKS Any Irons in the Fire? It's Nearly 40 Years since North East Press Iron Came into Being. Editor Peter Mortimer's Latest Venture Is an Open Call to Publish Eight Original New Poets, as He Tells Tamzin Lewis

Article excerpt

Peter Mortimer's philosophy hasn't changed much since 1973: "Find or nurture writing that excites you and let nothing prevent you publishing it. Have fun doing it."

Fun has had a crucial part to play in Iron's success and survival over the years with Popeye and Star Trek receiving attention alongside Perestroika and oppression.

Iron Press was born in a Gateshead flat which Peter shared for a while with the poet Tom Pickard and his first wife Connie, who founded the Morden Tower Book Room.

"We were living a fairly bohemian, chaotic life and talked late one night about launching a new magazine," Peter says. "It was the ideal breeding ground for a new literary press. I contacted all the writers and artists I knew and Connie gave me an article by Allen Ginsberg called Ginsberg in Newcastle, about his reading at the Morden Tower.

"Creating the magazine was a laborious job. Everything was done by hand. I typed out every word of the magazine myself.

"Corrections had to be retyped and stripped in using Cow Gum. All titles were pressed down from Letraset sheets which led to slanting headlines."

The first edition cost Peter PS87 to print and the cover price was 15p. However, he gave away all 400 copies which had been printed at Moss Side Free Press in Manchester. The quarterly literary magazine folded after its 82nd edition in 1997 but the press continues to publish books and pamphlets.

As part of Iron's 40th birthday next May, HAIKU WORKSHOPS Peter Mortimer is also running The Humours of Haiku, a workshop at the City Library as part of the Newcastle Winter Book Festival. It's on November 24 and participants should bring examples and be prepared to write more.

Peter plans to produce a pamphlet of new poetry by eight poets following an open call.

Peter says: "The idea is to work closely with a group of eight poets over six sessions, looking specifically to develop and hone three poems per poet for publication. …

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