The Murmuring Guillemot
Port Eliot Festival Newspaper

This week we’re at the Port Eliot Festival running a daily newspaper, The Murmuring Guillemot. We’ll be doing this with Guillemot friends, artist John Kilburn and writer Ben Smith, as well as students from Plymouth University.

The paper content should be good fun. Articles will be written by creative writing students as well as festival performers and the public, and instead of photographs we have illustration students drawing features. There will be reviews, interviews, creative work, poetry, perhaps some fake news, folklore and alternative sport.

Forecast is for rain, which won’t bother us birds, but it will be interesting to see how the risograph responds to conditions. The risograph is a big, cumbersome, fun bit of printing machinery, very fast at around 120 pages per minute. It’s quite a new machine for us and our colours are limited to those that came with it: teal, yellow, black and Liberal Democrat orange (really!).

We will be in the Walled Garden, opposite the Tiddy Tent, possibly a little soggy. Come and say hello and give us your news and views.

Kate Walters
Events 2017

Over the coming few months Kate Walters will be running a series of workshops, talks and open studios. See below for details.

20 May – Talk & Workshop. Terre Verte Gallery, Altarnun, Cornwall, 11 – 4: Iona Notebooks. Talk and workshop around the themes in the Iona Notebooks book and exhibition, including a guided meditative walk on Bodmin Moor. £50. For information and to book:

1 June – Performance Drawing. Trewarveneth Studios (No. 6), Newlyn, Cornwall. One to one ‘hollow bone’ sessions with Kate. £70 for one hour including a bespoke drawing for you to take away. For information and to book:

2 June – Workshop. Trewarveneth Studios (No. 6), Newlyn, Cornwall, 11 – 4: Drawing the Body Out. Mixed media drawing/monotype workshop exploring bodily responses to music, poetry and the breath. £50. For information and to book:

3 & 4 June – Open Studio. Trewarveneth Studios (No. 6), Newlyn, Cornwall, 12 – 4. For information:

20 -24 October – Course. The Lund Gallery, Easingwold, North Yorkshire: Body memory, body awareness and the awareness of the land. This three day course encourages students to work creatively with hidden bodily impulses and the subtle voices of wild places. Kate will guide students on a journey to discover participants’ own inner responses using techniques such as drawing with the breath, working with the drum and shamanic walking. Spending some time in silence, students will be able to use words and images to explore the subtle matrix of life, which will include refining and developing feelings about the natural world. The course will include an illustrated talk by Kate on her work and methods and plenty of individual attention. For further details and to book this course please contact Debbie Loane at the Lund Gallery direct:




Iona Notebooks Launch & Exhibition Preview

This Friday, 5th May, we will be officially launching Kate Walters‘ Iona Notebooks at Terre Verte Gallery, Altarnun. Iona Notebooks is a collection of Walters’ painting, drawing and writing from her times on Iona.

The launch is an opportunity to meet Kate Walters, who will be giving a short talk on her work, and to get a preview of the exhibition that will be running at Terre Verte until the 27th May.

Launch and Preview opens at 5pm.


Spring Sun

Light fills the house like a huge stranger
leaning in at the windows
and watching.

from Sun, by Jos Smith

The year is warming and guillemots are moving back into their cities along the cliffs. So while we’re being sociable, maybe we could have a little catch up.

Our first pamphlet of the year was Jos Smith’s Sun. We used our favourite Mohawk Superfine papers and found some lovely solargraph and pinhole camera images by Dave Wise for the cover and to frame the insides of the book. The cover title is subtly embossed, which has really lifted it. We’re very pleased. Have a look and see what you think.

To update you on the year’s publications, we’re already looking pretty full and busy, which is great, with work from both new and established writers and artists. Any day now, Kate Walters’ Iona Notebooks will be ready. This will be a limited edition art book, printed on Accent stock from GF Smith, and each will be hand numbered and signed by the artist. The book will be £12 and every order will come with six Kate Walters postcards, specially made by Guillemot Press for this edition. Instead of our normal dimensions, this book will be squared, giving the paintings, drawings and writing a little more space.

In terms of new poetry, I’m really excited to see what the crown of sonnets by Martyn Crucefix is going to look like. It is currently being illustrated with a book design by the tremendously talented Phyllida Bluemel. We hope to publish this early summer, soon after our triptychs are ready.

The letterpress triptych series is hugely exciting. Twelve poets, three poems each. Each triptych is printed separately in a limited edition of just 50 (plus 12, one each for the poets). They will be sold in box sets (price tbc). The work is all ready to go and we’re just trying to book time with the 1928 Thompson letterpress. The list of poets is astonishing. This year’s twelve are: Peter Riley, Mona Arshi, Toby Martinez de las Rivas, Rebecca Goss, Rowan Williams, Nathan Thompson, Sarah Cave, Isabel Galleymore, Thomas A Clark, John Deane, Robert Lax and Rupert Loydell. If you’re interested in this very limited edition letterpress series, please email us.

Later in the year, we will have a debut collection from Nicola Stringer, a new pamphlet by Rosmarie Waldrop, and a new collection from Andrew McNeillie. There are a handful of further titles we’re waiting to finalise, including an interesting avant garde German translation, some American fragmented minimalism, a visual poem sequence, and a little photography, perhaps.

In other news, our collection of machines we hardly know how to use is growing handsomely. The latest addition is a risograph. Photos to follow – once we’ve found a way of squeezing it into the nest. We would like to add hand and letterpress printers, and I spent a surprising number of hours contemplating guillotine trimmers the other night.

We continue to receive (and encourage) terrific poetry submissions, but I’d like to invite something weirder for a small imprint we hope to launch. So what do you have in the way of visual or narrative material on alternative cartography, lost worlds, or the monstrous? We love the edgelands, both literal and metaphorical, and these exaggerations of the places beyond those we know continue to intrigue us. If you have ideas, work or research you think might interest us, please get in touch.

Happy Spring to you all.

Winter Plumage

I, this bleak year of Januaries taste
twelve Augusts harvested

Sister Mary Agnes, Harvest

We have been at sea over the festive period, looking back to shore. 2016 has been a stormy year and the Christmas seas were choppy. A strange climate to begin such an optimistic venture as Guillemot Press.

But here we are gazing at the cliffs of 2016 and grateful for the work we’ve produced. We’re pleased for the relationships we’re building, the writers we’re representing, proud of our first few books and excited for the year ahead.

In 2016 we published an exceptional new poet, Karl O’Hanlon, a beautiful forgotten poet, Sister Mary Agnes, and an exciting established poet, Melanie Challenger, as well as new prose from Rob Magnuson Smith and some revisited prose by Jack Clemo. We’ve had artwork from Tony Martin, Garry Fabian Miller, Rose Ferraby, John Kilburn and Kate Walters. We’ve had our first launch events and exhibitions, and the books (I hope) are getting better and better.

2017 is looking promising already, with new work due from Martyn Crucefix, Kate Walters, Jos Smith and Robert Lax, as well as a letterpress triptych series with 12 of our favourite poets, including Rebecca Goss, Rowan Williams, Mona Arshi, John F Deane, Peter Riley, Toby Martinez de las Rivas, Thomas A Clark, Rupert Loydell, Isabel Galleymore and Sarah Cave. The poetry of this series is brilliant and diverse, and the final two poets to announce (shortly) will further broaden the field.

As well as these poetry titles, 2017 will see the beginning of a few rather different publishing projects, further books of beauty and wonder. More on this will follow soon.

Guillemot Press would like to thank everyone who has supported and followed us over this first year. We hope you’ll stick with us into 2017 and wish you all a Happy New Year.

Launch in a Storm: Readings & Exhibition

On Saturday evening, Storm Angus hit Cornwall. He made terrible weather for a weary bird trying to make its way over Bodmin Moor, but the winds at sea were harder still. We took shelter in Altarnun, at the Terre Verte Gallery, with a brave, excellent audience, all there to see our new books, writers and artists.

This was the official launch of Karl O’Hanlon’s And Now They Range. Karl came down from York and he read beautifully. He is a seriously promising poet, and And Now They Range is his debut pamphlet. He’s definitely a writer to watch and we’re excited to see what he’ll do next. Already, this little book has received some great comments, including from fellow poets Billy Mills and Toby Martinez de las Rivas. Billy described it as ‘one of the best first books by a young Irish poet that I’ve read for a while’.

Karl read in front of an exhibition by Kate Walters, whose paintings feature on and within And Now They Range. They turn a great collection into an exquisite book. Kate was present at the launch and introduced her work so brilliantly, and although it was only a brief introduction to her practice, it became the subject of much of our after-event pub conversation in the King’s Head and we’re already talking about holding an evening that focuses solely on Kate and her work.

The second reading of the evening came from the prize-winning short story writer and novelist Rob Magnuson Smith, whose pamphlet Henry and the Moon Baby is being officially launched Tuesday 29th November in Helston Museum. Rob’s pamphlet was illustrated by John Kilburn, whose playful image-making made an attractive contrast with Kate’s artwork in the gallery. John also presented his work and practice, touching on ideas of fourth and fifth spatial dimensions. This led to a series of difficult questions about physics, mathematics, chemistry and crystallology from a passing scientist in the audience.

The audience was great and it was a pleasure to speak to everyone afterwards. We hope people enjoyed sharing our sheltered Altarnun crag with us as much as we enjoyed entertaining.

I have to say, we forgot about Angus completely, and save for a treacherous flight home across the moor, we hardly noticed a gust or drip. Thanks must go to Richard Sharland of Terre Verte Gallery, who hosted us so generously. Terre Verte is a lovely space in a lovely place, and we hope this launch will be the first of many Guillemot events. Our sincere thanks to everyone involved.


19 November 2016: Terre Verte Gallery, Altarnun, Cornwall. 6pm.
29th November 2016: Helston Museum, Cornwall. 5pm.

Read on for full details…

Next month we will be hosting the first of our exhibition and reading events at Terre Verte Gallery, Altarnun, on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. Terre Verte is a lovely little gallery run by Richard Sharland, who has a great sense of the sort of space work needs. The gallery also happens to be in one of our favourite moorland villages. For a small village, Altarnun has an important place in Cornish history. Just down the road, John Wesley used to stay, and a tiny museum remains in the cottage that was built for him. It includes work from another prominent Altarnun figure, Neville Northey Burnard, a sculptor who began his career carving gravestones, then went to London to sculpt Romantics and nobles. In the Wesley Cottage Museum, they have a limpet shell cameo by Burnard. Altarnun also boasts the ‘Cathedral of the Moor’, complete with green man carvings, and a holy ducking well for curing madness.

And this is where we’ll be on the 19th November at 6pm. There will be a pop-up exhibition featuring work by John Kilburn and Kate Walters, and readings by Rob Magnuson Smith and Karl O’Hanlon from new and forthcoming Guillemot Press titles Henry and the Moon Baby and And Now They Range. Entrance is £5, which will include a glass of wine. There will be lots of opportunities to talk to the writers and artists, as well as to pick up the latest Guillemot titles and to have these signed.

There is a second event at Helston Museum on the 29th November. This will be a free event with Rob Magnuson Smith reading from Henry and the Moon Baby, which was inspired by the museum’s stuffed scarlet on exhibition. To meet Henry the Parrot and Rob the Writer, come along to the Helston Museum at 5pm. To buy a copy of the pamphlet in advance, visit us here.

We look forward to meeting you, either in Altarnun or in Helston. If there are any queries, please get in touch.

Harvest, by Sister Mary Agnes


As we move towards autumn, we offer our debut poetry booklet, Harvest, by Sister Mary Agnes.

We are delighted with this little book of newly discovered work from the contemplative nun-poet, Agnes, which we have paired with the ‘camera-less photography’ of Dartmoor-based artist Garry Fabian Miller.

Sister Mary Agnes (1928-2014) was a nun in the Poor Clare monastery of Lynton in Devon. She published three slim volumes of her poetry through the 1970s with Workshop Press and Thornhill. Her debut, Daffodils in Ice, was a surprise hit for Workshop’s editor Norman Hidden, outselling their other debuting poet that year, Andrew Motion. Newspapers and the television took an immediate interest in Agnes and her contemplative life, and she found her life and writing the subject of many articles and programmes.

Agnes’s poetry was still and meditative, reflecting the divine as well as intimate natural observations:

I have a window in my cell – the view is magnificent, hills and trees & wonderful sunsets. There’s a cypress tree right outside the window … . I love watching it. You can learn so much from watching things & listening to them.

Year after year, season after season, Sister Mary Agnes watched and listened. The cypress tree recurs throughout her poetry, as do the flowers and birds of the Lynton garden.

Her poetry brought Agnes many admirers, among them Kathleen Raine and Elizabeth Goudge, but as her writing gained momentum, she herself was facing crisis. She had fallen in love – a more worldly sort of love – and while the poetic slippage between the divine lover and the worldly beloved is extraordinarily powerful in her poetry, the tension between monastic discipline and romantic promise led her to the brink of despair. She suffered a terrible breakdown, attempting to end her life, and after almost thirty years clositered at Lynton, Agnes left the monastery, first moving to convalescent homes, then to London. There in the city she continued her quiet life of devotion.

Sister Mary Agnes’s three published collections are Daffodils in Ice, No Ordinary Lover, and a world of stillnesses. Following her breakdown, she published no more. Yet she continued to write, and when she died, in 2014, she left behind a number of full manuscripts and a great many occasional poems.

From these, Harvest was gleaned. The poems of this 40-page booklet chart the period of Agnes’s hope, despair and recovery, offering her signature blend of death-infused delight and devotion as the physical presence of Christ and Lover are explored in beautiful crystal-clear imagery.

(We have several more poetry pamphlets on their way soon, so keep an eye on the website, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.)

The Guillemot Attempts Flight

The launch of our first title, Jack Clemo’s short story The Clay-Dump, with artwork by Tony Martin, was held on Friday night, on Jack Clemo’s 100th birthday. We went deep into the heart of the China Clay country near St Austell, Clemo’s native landscape, to Wheal Martyn China Clay Park and Museum. Wheal Martyn is a fascinating site, the highlight being the viewing platform over the working Wheal Martyn pit, and the museum currently has an exhibition about Clemo’s life and writing in the foyer, with the poet’s writing desk and typewriter.

We spread out our wares on a table at the café entrance as preparations for the event began, then settled in for an evening of apocalyptic rural-industrial clayscape symbolism. There were readings of Clemo’s poetry from Luke Thompson and Causley House poet-in-residence Isabel Galleymore, followed by a performance of one of Clemo’s early Cornish dialect stories from Rabbit Theatre’s David Mynne. Contrasting Clemo’s early rejection of the natural world, Jane Darke introduced The Wrecking Season, a film about beachcombing made with her husband, the playwright Nick Darke. Rounding off the evening was Philip Marsden, reading from Rising Ground, his book about Cornwall, which includes a chapter on Clemo and the clays.

It was a pleasant evening, and we were proud to launch Guillemot Press and The Clay-Dump on such a unique occasion. (16/3/2016)

The Guillemot in Cornwall

The Guillemot is a bird of the seas and coasts, and Cornwall is our home. When looking for people to help produce our books, we were pleased to find so much so close. Up the road in Wadebridge, we found Pickle Design, the lovely company that produced the bridled guillemot logo above, as well as the logo you will find in the books. They also made a wooden hand stamp of the Guillemot, which we will be using in the future to make every single book unique. Down the road in Lostwithiel, we found Palace Printers with its owner Roy, an experienced printer happy to play around all day with paper colours, sizes and styles, binding options, end papers and covers, and who has been patient with indecisive birds like us.

We are very pleased to have found so much that’s so near and so good. We love Cornwall and are excited to be supporting such great creative people, all within a few miles of home. And yet, we are not just a local press. Borders don’t mean much to birds, and we are currently looking at artists and writers from across the UK. We’ll have more news on the next project very soon, and hope to see some of you tomorrow at the launch of Jack Clemo’s The Clay-Dump. (10/3/2016)

The Guillemot’s First Thoughts

The idea of Guillemot Press is simple: to publish and encourage the sorts of stories and poems we want to read. Little books, beautiful books, intimate books, books that are good to hold as well as to read. Books that fit well in a pocket. Books of the land, and the people of the land. Quiet books, rapturous books, wise books. (21/2/2016)

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