The 2021 Callum Macdonald Memorial Award (CMMA) is for the publisher of an outstanding example of pamphlet poetry published during the period 1st September 2019 to 28th February 2021. This year it was awarded to Roncadora Press for “Achanalt” by Donald S Murray. The judges were unanimous in their praise for Roncadora’s daring and inventive focus on producing beautiful pieces of art. This is the third time that Roncadora’s publisher Hugh Bryden has won the ward.
Established in 2001 in memory of Scottish publisher Callum Macdonald, this award was created to encourage, recognise and reward the publication of poetry in pamphlet form. In rewarding the publisher of an outstanding example of pamphlet poetry published during the previous year, rather than a poet, it is a unique award in Scotland. Entries are judged both on the aesthetic design and craft of the publication as well as the quality of the writing. The pamphlet or its publisher has to have a connection with Scotland or Scottish culture.
From 2001 to 2018, the CMMA was supported by the National Library of Scotland. Since 2019, the Scottish Poetry Library has managed the administration of the award in partnership with the Saltire Society and the CMMA will be presented at Scotland’s National Book Awards 2021.The Library’s connection to the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award is a personal one; it was founded by Macdonald’s widow, Tessa Ransford; Ransford was also the founding director of the Library.
This year’s CMMA prize is £500 for the winning publisher and the winning poet will receive an additional award of an ‘Inspiring Scotland Bursary’ from the Saltire Society. The Inspiring Scotland Bursary Programme, supported by the Saltire Society Trust, was established to celebrate creatives, based in Scotland, who demonstrate exceptional work.
The bursary is for £1,500 to support one of the following:
• A second print of the winning pamphlet
• The print of another pamphlet by the winning poet
• Travel to take part in Book Festivals (dependent on government guidelines)
The award winners will be announced at the Saltire Literary Awards on 27 November. You can watch the livestream via this link
Shortlist with Judges Comments
The judges thought that Window was a bold example of a publisher pushing the definition of the pamphlet and its design parameters. The poetry itself was elevated through the playful, knowing fusion of art and form; a particular strength was the use of white space and typesetting, allowing the concept its full expression.
The stand-out pamphlet in this submission was Maria Sledmere’s Polychromatic. With its delicate aesthetic, clean design, and attention to details (such as exquisite endpapers and quality paperstock), this hand-made pamphlet accentuated the text’s aesthetic and poetic reach.
Roncadora Press: WINNER
The judges were unanimous in their praise for Roncadora’s daring and inventive focus on producing beautiful pieces of art across the three examples submitted: Storm Glass, Nith, and Achanalt. Design choices on illustration, binding, paperstock, and typesetting all complemented one another, with Achanalt by Donald S. Murray marked out as a lyrical, haunting narrative, complemented by its retro stylistic that, paradoxically, is also resolutely contemporary
Ross Wilson’s Letters to Rosie defined this publisher’s submission overall as one of careful and sensitive attention where poems explore a personal, poignant history. The Song: Poems of Biblical Theophany, while produced as part of a wider project, also garnered praise for a typeface well-matched to the content with an interesting and bold use of negative space and blank pages.
As a relatively new pamphlet publisher, the judges were impressed with the dynamic and high level design choices that exemplified that strongest submissions here. Of particular note, Bibi June’s Critique of the Criminal Justice System is a well-balanced publication of striking content with bold use of colour and typeface. Carly Brown’s Anastasia, Look in the Mirror was commended for the author’s poetic verve and the publisher’s medium of presentation.
This publisher’s careful consideration for the character of the poetry at hand, the seeking-out of consistently quality work, and the evident love for the pamphlet form, were all remarked upon by the panel. Every element works together toward a harmonious whole, from cover design, type choice and setting, to paperstock and binding; these are pamphlets that grace the bookseller’s shelves. Richie McCaffery’s First Hare was held up as the perfect example of Mariscat’s mission in pamphlet publishing.