Partnerships with Peepal Tree Press opens up publishing opportunities for students
Partner spotlight | Dr Emily Zobel Marshall and Peepal Tree Press
Dr Emily Zobel Marshall shares with us the background of Peepal Tree Press, and how The School of Cultural Studies and Humanities work with the Leeds based organisation to develop students understanding of the publishing industry.
Tell us a bit about Peepal Tree Press and what led you to working with them?
Jeremy Poynting is the founder and managing editor for the Leeds-based publishers of Black British and Caribbean writing Peepal Tree Press. Whilst still working as a lecturer in further education and trade union activist, Jeremy began a PhD at the University of Leeds, focusing on the relationship between imaginative literature and ethnic diversity in Trinidad and Guyana. His research brought him to the Caribbean for the first time in 1976. In 1986 he established Peepal Tree Press.
Peepal Tree Press aims to publish the very best of international writing from the Caribbean, its diasporas and the UK. Their goal ‘is always to publish books that make a difference, and though we always want to achieve the best possible sales, we're most concerned with whether a book will still be alive in the future.’
Since its beginnings, Peepal Tree Press has grown into the largest worldwide publisher of Caribbean and Black British writing with a backlist of around 380 titles. Through his work as Managing Editor and Founder of Peepal Tree, Jeremy has made a significant contribution to the Arts as well as in services to the city, our region and the national and international literary community.
Leeds Beckett students studying within The School of Cultural Studies and Humanities have undergone various work placements and internships with the publisher.
Why were you passionate about this partnership?
For decades, Peepal Tree Press have hosted and organised cultural events and readings across Leeds and the North of England and have also worked in partnership with Leeds Beckett University.
Through their ‘Inscribe’ programme, housed at Peepal Tree, Jeremy and the Press have nurtured the talents of budding writers of colour across the region and often facilitated the publication of their first pieces of work. The mission statement for Inscribe is ‘supporting writers of colour in England to professionally advance their creative work and their careers through coaching, mentoring, workshops, residentials, training, newsletters, publications and general advice’.
Without Jeremy’s tireless dedication to nurturing and publishing Caribbean and Black British writers, as well as establishing, educating and supporting a literary community of students and readers, none of this would have been possible.
What have the students enjoyed most about this collaboration?
Students at the School of Cultural Studies and Humanities have enjoyed work placements at Peepal Tree Press and have developed their understanding of the publishing industry – and developed their creative work – as a result.
Students worked to help the Press with marketing and publicity and focused on supporting the company’s social media outputs. BA (Hons) English with Creative Writing student Faatimah Mayat stated that she picked up a range of skills from her time at the Press, including writing blurbs and producing publicity copy, and gaining experience of working in the publishing industry.
Faatimah said, ‘It allowed me to witness first-hand, one avenue which my degree may take me down. I also experienced the amount of reading, re-reading and editing that goes into submitting professional writing.’
Regarding the student placements, Peepal Tree stated; ‘we really enjoy seeing students realising that their university skills are relevant to workplaces, and passing on some knowledge about indie publishing. We also value their responses to our books - they bring a younger, fresh perspective’.
Peepal Tree Press
Peepal Tree aims to bring you the very best of international writing from the Caribbean, its diasporas and the UK. Our goal is always to publish books that make a difference, and though we always want to achieve the best possible sales, we're most concerned with whether a book will still be alive in the future.
Emily’s research is informed by postcolonial theory and includes examinations of constructions of identity, race and racial politics and Caribbean carnival cultures. She is particularly interested in forms of cultural resistance and cross-cultural fertilisation in the face of colonialism. Emily is an expert in the role of trickster figures in the literatures and cultures of Africa and its Diaspora and has published widely in this area.