Poetic Republic – a poetic democracy

Poetic Republic was born out of Poetica, a completely open writing forum based in Central Library, Manchester, UK.

In July 2007 Manchester was galvanised by a festival of original new work across the spectrum of popular culture and art - Manchester International Festival. This triggered a mission to bring the same sense of vision to the writing and sharing of poetry.

In the summer of 2007 the mechanism for applying the concept of anonymous peer review on a large scale was worked through in detail.

The official launch of Poetic Republic was in the Committee Room of Central Library, Manchester 7th July 2008.

The first year of the Poetry Prize was quite simply an experiment. There were 310 entries. The effectiveness of the process exceeded our expectations completely. The event ran at a deficit of £18k. The poetry prize was named the MAG Poetry Prize and we made a donation of £1 per entry to MAG’s humanitarian work in clearing landmines.

In the second year, the judging mechanism was enhanced to give participants the option to leave comments.

Somewhat contentiously, Francesca McMahon, took first prize in each of the first three years; her readings on BBC Radio Manchester became an annual event in itself.

In the fourth year we recognised that the Poetry Prize wasn’t yielding a surplus of funds and reluctantly dropped our fundraising for Mines Advisory Group. The prize was renamed to Poetic Republic Poetry Prize.

In the third and the fourth year we were fortunate (and grateful) to receive support from Arts Council England for marketing and to extend the process into a digital eBook publication.

In October 2012, Peter Hartey (founder of Poetic Republic) appeared at the Manchester Literature Festival with Michael Schmidt (Carcanet Press), Jon Mitchinson (Unbound) and Lee Brackstone (Faber & Faber) and debated the question “Is the Editor Dead?” For a full account see Manchester Literature Festival Blog.

In December 2012 our first eBook publication “Poems to Talk About” went to number three in the Amazon UK Poetry Bestsellers.

The poetry prize has been run on a voluntary basis however we incur significant third party costs in the areas of IT development (and maintenance), marketing and prizes.

Over 6,700 people have now registered at Poetic Republic. It is very encouraging to see that many of the new registrations are coming from recommendations from friends.

We are now extending our large scale anonymous peer review methodology by applying this to short stories.

Poetic Republic
London and Manchester, UK
July, 2013