To a generation who had turned on, tuned in and dropped out in the late 1960's, the lure of dark satanic mills and cheap property was ideal. And so they came, the bearded sons and daughters of the Beat Generation, eager to live their idyll and commune with Mother Nature. Now some balding gents with spaghetti-like ponytails think they are linked, double helix style, to Ted Hughes. They smoulder and rant and put on slams at pubs, run into the 19 cafes and lob poems at innocent latte drinkers here to buy Yorkshire soap.
Despite the guerrilla front of Erato, there has been a convergence of writers in this upper Calder valley town. You only have to turn on the TV or radio and hear plays and dramas written by its many writers. Eastenders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale all have writers who reside here. You can throw a net in Coffee Cali and capture two or three Radio Four playwrights. Get me out of here I'm not a writer will be filmed in Hebden in 2012.
A moose, albeit not blue.
Is the collective noun for a bunch of writers a Lexicon? I don't know, but when I started Bluemoose Books five years ago, as a riposte to all the Celebriture and to the London-centric nature of publishing, I knew I was in the right place. The first book which we sold on a national basis was The art of being dead by Stephen Clayton, which is now a set text on the MA Contemporary Literature course at Leeds Metropolitan University. Apparently it is a modern gothic novel. Of course the literary reviewers in London didn't pick it up. Their thinking seems to be literature from small presses can't be good. If it was good enough it would be agented and published by the big six publishing houses or larger independents.
How wrong they are. Agents are the cause of many of the problems in publishing today. They will only take on writers who will secure them a decent income and editors will only take on writers that will sell 20,000 copies and more, which given the dominance of only two high street bookstores and the supermarkets leads to generic and formulaic publishing.
More at The Northerner Blog.