Etruscan Books was founded in 1996 by poet Nicholas Johnson, and publishes concrete, Gaelic & modernist poetry with an ear for the lyric & the made up word.
The press grew out of the Six Towns Poetry Festival (1992-97) in Stoke on Trent and, maintaining the atmosphere of these gatherings, gives attention to spatiality and experiment in carefully edited books sewn on good papers.1 As a publisher, Etruscan represents a continuum of the ethos of bookmaking by historic presses like Fulcrum, Goliard, Triagram & Grosseteste. Our first publication was by Edward Dorn and we have published works by Carlyle Reedy, Seán Rafferty, John Hall, Bob Cobbing, Brian Catling & Brian Coffey.
Etruscan Books has curated tours, readings and festivals across the British Isles, including a residency at Arnolfini, Bristol for the exhibition Black Mountain: Starting at Zero, 1935-1957. This featured James Kelman, B.M. Bottomley, Alice Notley and Tom Raworth, amongst others. Etruscan Books also runs the Black Huts festival of writing, film and music in Hastings Old Town.2 Artists who have already taken part include Shirley Collins, Philip Crozier, Mark Jenkin, Helen Macdonald, Alasdair Roberts, Meg Bateman, Andrew Kötting and Jessica Pujol Duran amongst others.
1. The poet Roy Fisher was a subtle and dedicated patron to the festival; Flora MacNeill and Kevin Coyne sang there; the filmmaker Timothy Neat filmed the final festival; Staffordshire Moorlands’ hero King Doug—lord of the Roaches—read his War Correspondence there, and Burslem writer and painter Arthur Berry declined a reading as he had agrophobia. Poet Alan Halsey met Geraldine Monk at a tribute to David Jones
2. American writers like Robert Creeley, Carl Rakosi and Edward Dorn read there; Ahmed Balabdaoui, Robin Blaser and Tina Darragh gave their debut British readings there; Bill Griffiths, Barry MacSweeney and Maggie O’Sullivan read there; Scottish poets Hamish Henderson, Meg Bateman, Tom Leonard, Sorley MacLean and Gael Turnbull returned often to what MacLean called “the most companionable festival.”
Healy’s The Metal Mountain reviewed in The Irish Times
“Thirty years after the publication of John Healy’s award-winning autobiography The Grass Arena, his second novel, The Metal Mountain, attempts to stand as its spiritual sequel. Reminiscent of the intimate, emotional narratives of DH Lawrence, Healy’s new work offers the reader an immersive and intense account of a complex immigrant experience. In a London still struggling to build a post-war identity, Healy’s central protagonist, 17-year-old Bridget Kelly dreams of more than her immigrant life will ever offer her. In a novel replete with symbols, the city’s thriving black market becomes a metaphor for inequality and injustice as Bridget strives to prove that even one person can make a difference, no matter the cost. Looming over everything is the eponymous metal mountain of the book’s title, another symbol of the harsh and unforgiving reality of city existence. Healy’s prose is heavy and dramatic, laden with interiority, and is at times overwhelming to the point of being challenging. A demanding novel from an always interesting and engaging author.” Rebecca Long
Etruscan author John Healy will appear at London’s Small Publisher’s Fair (Conway Hall, November 16th) to sign copies of his new novel, The Metal Mountain (see here).