The Benjamin Press

I set up the Benjamin Press in 1985 to publish my books of poetry. It is very enjoyable having complete artistic and editorial control over a book. Every two or three years I get the impulse to publish another one and look around to see if I have sufficient material. It is not a profit-making venture and I cannot afford to publish other authors. Distribution is the problem and I have to sell via catalogues through booksellers. Most copies go gratis to friends and acquaintances but it is always a boost to the morale when a genuine order materialises through the letter-box. Hardier little publishers tout their wares around the bookshops, selling books in two's and three's, but I haven't the nerve or the stamina. Sometimes my books get reviews or a personal comment of note but the satisfaction is personal.

I have published an integrated set of four books `The Horseman Trilogy': `Troubador' (1985), `Horsemen' (1988), `Coatham' (1989) and `Disbanded' (1991). The pamphlet `Dysholm' was added in 1993 for completion.

In 1995 I designed a `Selected Poems' and friends advised me to circulate the larger publishers with my manuscript as at that time I was getting considerable publication of my poems in the little magazines and it was felt I shouldn't have to pay for it myself. But, in the end, I produced the book myself' in November 1995.

I love doing my books, on LaTeX producing Postscript files for my friendly printer. The cover picture and colour scheme is always difficult to decide but so far I seem to have made good decisions.

With financial strictures due to my lack of income and negligible sales it seemed wiser to suspend publication until times were better, leaving `Selected Poems' as the culmination of my career. You can't self-publish forever, financially or critically. But I cannot resist designing books and created a new pamphlet `Wounds'. A continuation of my work after `Selected Poems'.

A book was designed containing `Wounds' and `Arkansas-poems' to be published under the `Wounds' title in 1997, but I decided it was too personal for my regular readership to appreciate. Although I was talked into submitting it to James Hogg at Salzburg University Press, who published it at the end of 1997. Instead, for 1997, I designed the `Cat Poems' pamphlet which was published at the same time. The `Cat Poems' is my most popular item on the Internet, and have been well known for nearly ten years now. This will maintain my publication record of a book every two years since 1985. The `Cat Poems' were published in October 1997.

In 2000 I designed a new pamphlet `Warmth' but I felt it was too mediocre to turn into a book, which I could have done by padding it out with my current selected poems. In the end I did make a book out of the combination, but I decided the quality of the new poems wasn't good enough to justify the expense of production.

In 2002 I published my 'Kitten Poems' pamphlet which is essentially the story of my new kitten Marty, who arrived in my house in 2000, padded out with some recent poems. Since then I designed a pamphlet 'Alive' which contains my best work since 'Wounds', excluding the 'Kitten Poems' material. I published 'Alive' with my current selected poems as the book 'Finality' in 2005.

As I have stopped writing I made the book 'Love Poems', an anthology selected from all my published work, the final publication from the Benjamin Press on 1 May 2008.

I once said that the danger in self-publishing was that of advertising your own mediocrity. That is for others to judge.

Douglas Clark /The Benjamin Press/ Benjamin Press, 69 Hillcrest Drive, Bath BA2 1HD, UK/