Friday, 22 July 2011

The Opposite of Easy

Hello all, and sorry for the silence.

We have, of course, all been busy here at Gumbo Towers with all the things we have to do, and watching your submissions roll in for Issue 2 of Word Gumbo.

As of today we have finalised our decisions and emailed everyone, so now it's just a question of putting the issue to bed. All things being equal, we hope it have it up for you by the end of the month.

If anything it's been an even harder job this time around, with the quality of the work being exceptionally high. Still, we've managed to find what we consider to be the very best pieces and we're sure you'll really enjoy the magazine when it finally hits the virtual shelf.

This morning was spent sending out the emails, and it is quite a strange experience. Because of the anonymous submissions system, when reading the work we don't know who we have accepted until it comes time to go through the emailing process. As a result we discover that we have to disappoint some friends and respected writers. Still, I think that shows that we are being as fair as possible, accepting only the very best and most fitting for the theme, ensuring the quality of the final magazine.

Anyway, that's enough waffle for now. Time to type-set and get that magazine into your eager hands!

And, don't forget, we are already looking for material for the next issue. The theme is 'Light' and the guidelines can be found at

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Our New Arrival

Well, dear readers, it has been quite a month here at Gumbo Towers.

We have read through all of the pieces you sent and been incredibly impressed with the writing. We have been slightly disappointed at the dearth of script and non-fiction, but overwhelmed with the fiction and poetry. It has been fascinating to read through all your various interpretations of 'Beginnings'.

And, from that selection, we have found the very best writing we could. Some of it is from names you may well have heard before - A.F. Harrold, Cathy Bryant,  G.B. Clarkson - and some of it from writers who we are excited to be giving their big break into publication - Fat Roland, Ian Bartlett, Casey Bourne. Whoever the work is by, however, it was all chosen anonymously so you can be sure that we only picked the very best pieces, and those which fit with our theme.

On that topic, we did receive many wonderful pieces which we would have liked to accept, but with little or nothing to do with 'Beginnings', so do make sure if you're sending pieces in that they meet the theme.

Once the pieces were chosen, the enjoyable task of putting the issue together came next - designing the layout, putting the pieces in order, designing the cover - all to bring you a magazine which we hope you will find nice to look at as well as utterly enjoyable.

So, that's us for the first issue. You can read it by going to and downloading the pdf file. Please let us know what you think of it on our Facebook page (

We're going to have a rest now, but come July 1st we want to be even busier than we have been in May, so start sending your work in for the next issue, 'Opposites'.

Until the next time, dear readers. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

May Days

April 30th has come and gone, the submission deadline for the first issue of Word Gumbo has passed, you've done your hard work and now it's our turn.

As I type, the editors of Team Gumbo are poring over your submissions - over 160 of them in all - and working out what is going to make up our first issue, 'Beginnings' which will be out at the end of May. So far we're really pleased with the standard of work we've received, so well done to you all.

But while we're slaving away bringing the issue to life, there's no need to just sit there and wait. A new theme - 'Opposites - has been posted on the website, and the deadline for issue two is June 30th. So put fresh inspiration into your brain, apply pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, and send us your work.

We're looking forward to it.

In the meantime, it's back to work for me and the rest of the team.
See you on the other side of the pile!

- Calum Kerr

Friday, 29 April 2011

The end of the first month

Hello, dear reader, welcome back to the blog. It has now been almost a month since the birth of Gumbo Press, and the first deadline is closing in.

Of course it's been a busy month, with the assemblage of the editorial team, agreement of editorial aims and guidelines, creation of the website, promotion of Word Gumbo and monitoring/gathering of submissions. It's been a wonderful month too, though, as the word has spread the enthusiasm for our new venture has become palpable.

And now, here we are, with just two days to go before the closing date for submissions for our first issue. We have received over a hundred pieces to consider, and we're still hoping for more as the deadline approaches. It has always been my practice to submit only as the deadline closes in, and I imagine I'm not alone. All of which is wonderful, because the more pieces we receive, the better our chance of achieving the high level of quality which we are seeking for.

It's very exciting to be on the cusp of reading the first batch. I can't wait. I know it might, in time, feel like work, but at this moment it is just tingling anticipation.

After that, there will be the assembling of the magazine, and then waiting for your reaction, dear reader, to our first publication. Tell me, can it get any better than this?

-Calum Kerr, Managing Editor

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Gumbo Press - the story

(This blog entry was written for the Winning Words blog - and first appeared on the 15th April 2011)

On 3rd April 2011 I set up Gumbo Press to publish a literary e-zine and chapbooks of prose and poetry. It was a spur of the moment decision which took 7 years in the making.

I used to run a small press. In 1997 I founded CK Publishing and Writer’s Muse magazine. We moved on, over time to publish chapbooks, novellas, and finally some ‘proper’ trade paperbacks. Writer’s Muse passed into other hands in 2001 when I started my PhD, and CK Publishing finally came to an end in 2004 when we had to cease trading. We had tried to grow too fast and over-reached ourselves, and the business failed.

I left CK Publishing behind with some regret, but moved on to concentrate on my studies, my own writing – mostly academic – and latterly my lecturing in Literature and Creative Writing. However, in the last two years I have been writing a lot more fiction – short stories and flash-fictions mostly – and have been sending them out with some success. As a result I have been coming into contact with, and enjoying, a huge range of small press magazines, both print and electronic. This experience reconnected me with what I had been doing before, and reignited my own desire to get back into the publishing game in some small way.

All of this would, almost certainly, have remained just one of those nebulous things you plan to do ‘one day’ if it weren’t for the recent arts funding decisions. It has seemed, from the announcements, and from the reactions of many of my writing and editing friends online, that the publishing sector has been disproportionately hit by the cuts, small presses even more so than some of the larger ones. There is a lot of anger, and not a little anxiety, in many quarters. In me it provoked the desire to get back into the game and show that, despite political decisions, good writing – and its publication – will not be halted.

So, on the 3rd April 2011, my partner Kath Lloyd and I announced the creation of Gumbo Press. We were quickly joined by 2 other writers – poet and National Poetry Day Director, Jo Bell, and writer, film-buff and Writer’s Muse editor, Mike Somers – to help with the editing, promotion and general running of the endeavour. A week of planning, meetings and website-building later, we are up and running, ready to bring the first issue of our e-zine, Word Gumbo, to the web at the end of May 2011.

What we have now, after a frenetic week of organising, is a press dedicated to finding and publishing the very best in new writing from both emerging and established writers working in all the various forms. We want to be the place to break the new Carol Ann Duffy or Ted Hughes, the new Iris Murdoch or Raymond Carver, the new Susan Sontag or Hunter S. Thompson, and the new Caryl Churchill or Tom Stoppard. There’s no point in aiming low, we want to create something online which can rival the very best print publications in both range and quality.

It’s going to be a lot of work, but I’m happy to be back in the editor’s chair and looking forward to the adventure.

 - Calum Kerr (Managing Editor, Gumbo Press)

(The theme for the first issue of Word Gumbo is ‘Beginnings’ and the deadline for submissions is 30th April. Submission guidelines and more information can be found online at

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Welcome to Gumbo Press

Gumbo (n): an un-organized collection or mixture of various things.

Welcome to the birth of Gumbo Press, a new small publishing house based in the UK. This blog will chart the progress of the press. 

Our aim is to publish all that is new and exciting in the world of writing, covering all the forms: fiction, poetry, script, and non-fiction. We will publish an edition of our bimonthly online magazine, Word Gumbo, filled with the best of the submissions we receive. And, every year we will produce an anthology featuring new work from the best writers from the magazine.

We will also be issuing some chapbooks, collecting the work of selected writers. More details on this as we have them.

In the meantime, let's get started. Our first issue of Word Gumbo will be out at the end of May, and the deadline for submissions is 30th April. The theme, appropriately enough, is 'Beginnings'.

Submission  guidelines can be found on our website at