Podcast E5: The creative couple who launched their own publishing house

In this episode of Coffee, Tea or Something Stronger? Clare Lynch talks to poet Martin Bewick and artist Ella Johnston. Martin and Ella are the founders of Dunlin press, an independent publishing company specialising in intelligent, beautifully produced books of poetry and prose.

Martin and Ella talk about how they select writers for publication, how they balance their passion project with their day jobs, and how technology has made it easier than ever to get your work published.

Tune in to discover:

  • How they choose which writers to publish

  • The relationship between design and the written word

  • How they run a creative business around their day jobs

  • How print-on-demand technology has allowed publishers to take more creative risks

  • Why they haven’t listed their books on Amazon

  • Details of their latest project (submissions welcome – deadline closes soon)

Ella and Martin Dunlin Press revised 2.jpg

About Dunlin Press

Ella Johnston has worked as an editor across numerous magazines and websites, and is a practicing artist. She is editor and designer at Dunlin Press. Her artistic practice reflects a long-standing interest in nature, especially birdlife and wild flowers and plants. Her abstract work aims to depict landscape and space as a palimpsest, as she paints, draws scrapes and washes layers of inks, metallic elements and water over paper. Ella trained in art and the history of art at Chelsea College of Art and the University of Essex.

Portfolio: ellajohnston.wordpress.com
Blog: ellasplace.co.uk
Instagram and twitter: @ellajohnstonart

MW Bewick is widely published as a journalist and editor, and is a writer of poetry and prose. He is editor and occasional photographer at Dunlin Press. He studied at the University of Essex, where he also taught, and his doctorate focused on working-class literatures and the work of author James Kelman. As a writer his focus is on explorations of place, memory, incompleteness and polyphonic evocations of experience.

Website: mwbewick.com
Instagram and twitter: @mwbewick

The books

Est: Collected Reports from East Anglia (2015) is a unique collection of prose, poetry and reportage that takes the reader on a journey through East Anglia. The book paints an enigmatic and unique picture of East Anglia today – while referencing more than 260 places in the region. Contributors included Chris Petit, director of cult classic Radio On, poets Martin Newell and Wendy Mulford, the painter Luke Elwes, Hookland author David Southwell and archaeologist Philip Crummy.

The Migrant Waders (2016) is a collection of illustration, evocative prose, poetry and reportage that follows the migration routes of wading and shore birds from the high arctic to the tropics. Taking in the histories of the people and places where the birds make their temporary homes, the book includes 21 ink and watercolour avian illustrations by Ella Johnston and contributions from nature and landscape writers, as well as leading ecologists and environmentalists.

Scarecrow (2017) is the debut collection from poet MW Bewick. The book transfigures contemporary landscapes of the city and the countryside in an unsettling flux of fractured narrative time and atomised human agency. At the book’s heart is the figure of the scarecrow – a monad, feet cemented, ragged legs flailing, unable – or unwilling – to act as the world rushes by. At turns wistful, angry, and touched with remorse, this inventive and thought-provoking volume brings together registers of folk, baroque and the surreal to confront a 21st-century sense of existential crisis.

Priced Out (2017), by artist Tinsel Edwards, is a personal and powerful look at the declining state of housing in the capital through the eyes of an artist. A first-hand account of the London housing crisis, Tinsel traces the high rises in cost of rented accommodation, the spiralling property prices, and skewers the reasons why artists, who contribute – like so many others – so much to the character, wellbeing and uniqueness of London life, are being priced out of the city. Tinsel has worked with The Art Conference, Jealous Gallery, Pure Evil Gallery, The Art Car Boot Fair, and Galerie Michaela Stock in Vienna, amongst others, and has also produced work for Banksy’s Dismaland.

The Orphaned Spaces (2018) is an illustrated exploration of overlooked areas of natural beauty – edgelands, ex-industrial, derelict and brownfield sites, and the sometimes rare flora and fauna that is found there. More than a nature book, it is a rumination on life, loss and time, through the prism of liminal spaces captured in moments between dilapidation and regeneration. The book is the culmination of a multi-discipline collaboration by poet MW Bewick and artist Ella Johnston.

Lessons for an Apprentice Eel Catcher (2018) is the debut collection from poet Alex Toms. The book introduces us to a troupe of curious characters to explore themes of love, womanhood and sex. At the centre of this collection is the eel catcher, a shadowy figure who lives on the fringes of everyday experience. The eel catcher weaves willow traps, and tales of folklore and magic, evoking an East Anglia inhabited by poachers, witches and ghosts. In her poems, Toms skilfully summons the uncanny, and out of it draws a slithering sense with which we are all familiar. Alex is a repeat winner in national poetry competitions and in 2015 was Manchester Cathedral Poet of the Year. She is widely published in magazines, journals and anthologies.

Port (coming soon)
From the traditional fishing village to the mechanised container city and the old docks redeveloped into marinas and cultural quarters, time shapes our ports and ports shape people and society. Who lives there? What occurs there? When and why does the success or failure of a port occur? How do ports frame our experience of island life? Through non-fiction, reportage and journalistic reports, poetry, fictions, local history, biography, exploratory and experimental texts, Port explores the coastal cities, towns and villages of the UK, the landscapes they are part of, the places they connect, the people who inhabit them and work there, and the nature with which they co-exists.