‘let your staples shine’ (Jim Carruth, ‘Pamphleteer’)

The Mariscat Press was founded in Glasgow in 1982 by Hamish Whyte and Kevin McCarra, initially to make more widely available David Neilson’s Glaswegian versions of Catullus, but the publishing bug bit and the press went on to publish around 100 poetry books and pamphlets over the years by writers including Edwin Morgan, Gael Turnbull, Fiona Pitt-Kethley, Brian McCabe, Alison Prince, Brian Whittingham, Janice Galloway, AL Kennedy, Gerry Loose, Gerrie Fellows, James McGonigal, Donny O’Rourke, Richard Price, Anna Crowe, Valerie Thornton, Diana Hendry, Tom Pow, Isobel Dixon, Ian McDonough, Christine De Luca, Stewart Conn, Angela McSeveney, Lesley Glaister, Lesley Harrison, Douglas Dunn, DM Black, UA Fanthorpe, RV Bailey, Jim Carruth, Jane McKie, John Barnie, Jackie Kay, Susie Maguire, Michael Longley, Frank Ormsby, Michele Roberts, Lindy Barbour, Eveline Pye, Vicki Husband, Mary Robinson, Alyson Hallett and Michael Stephenson. MacCarra left in 1997 to work for the Guardian, since when Whyte has concentrated on pamphlets, moving to Edinburgh in 2004.

Mariscat has been short-listed for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award for poetry pamphlet publishing nearly every year from 2001 to 2018, winning twice, most recently in 2015. That year Mariscat also won the Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlet Publishing. Several pamphlets have featured as the Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice.

The aim has always been to publish poetry by both new and established writers in affordable editions. The press has run the gamut from cowgum and scalpel camera ready copy through offset litho to pdfs and digital, but attention has always been paid to design and presentation, paper and type chosen carefully. The press has been fortunate in its designers and typographers: Joe Murray, Gerry Cambridge and Robert Dalrymple. Early watchwords adopted were those of Francis Meynell of the Nonesuch Press: ‘variety, flexibility, impulse.’ The press is named after the street where Whyte lived in Glasgow till 2004. The area, on the south side of the city, has associations with Mary Queen of Scots. The Mariscat cat device is taken from Conrad Gesner’s Icones Animalium (1560), the book which provided Mary, while in captivity, with many of the designs for her needlework, including the panel ‘A Catte’, from the Oxburgh Hangings. Mary’s cat – Mariscat.