So in his own writing he’s demonstrated how pamphlets can act as a bridge towards a bigger collection, and also as a ‘between-book’ publication. But how did he move into editing and publishing under his own imprint, Garlic Press?
Editing poetry pamphlets, says Michael, was ‘a natural transition from editing Smiths Knoll’. He had already co-edited, with Roy Blackman, The Difference by Anthony Wilson for the Poetry Trust – a publication to support Wilson’s festival residency. Laskey takes pleasure in talking to poets about their poems, he likes seeing how texts mature over time. He’s a person who likes workshops, as a participant himself, not just as a leader. ‘What could be better,’ he says, ‘than talking about poems?’
So he created Garlic Press because he could, mainly for Suffolk poets, and because of the opportunity it gave him to work more closely with writers he liked and whose work he liked. A number of pamphlets co-edited by Michael Laskey and Joanna Cutts were also produced as part of the Smiths Knoll mentorship scheme. That was something different – very much a co-editorship, something Laskey also relishes.
But Garlic Press is just Michael Laskey, and latterly – since resigning from the Chair of the Poetry Trust, and stopping Smiths Knoll – he has more time for it. He misses the co-editing he did with Joanna and Roy. But when he works on a Garlic Press pamphlet, he likes the meeting of minds between himself and the author.