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Lockdown correspondent, Tom Chivers on the live book launch from inflatable bathtub

Photo: Author Abi Palmer, photographed by @didudietho

So, what does the director of a publishing house do on lockdown?

Tom Chivers is the founder and director of Penned in the Margins, the multi-award winning live literature producer and independent publisher.

'I set up Penned in the Margins 13 years ago as a poetry night underneath the railway arches in Herne Hill, south London, where I grew up. Since then, it's become a recognised literary arts company producing new work live, in print and online. We've published about 75 books and in the last year alone our titles have been shortlisted for the Costa, Dylan Thomas, Ledbury Forte and Ted Hughes Prizes, and won the Somerset Maugham Prize and the British Book Design & Production Award. We produce a wide range of events - bespoke literary salons, touring theatre shows, performance lectures and site-specific audio tours. Our live literature productions have been presented at places like Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room, Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and the Sage Gateshead, and toured as far as India and Brazil. I work out of a tiny office in Aldgate crammed with boxes of books and strange props that I can't bring myself to chuck out.' Tom Chivers, Run-Riot Interview with Eli Goldstone, 2017.

Fast forward to April 2020. We asked Tom what he's up to right now, during the covid-19 London lockdown.

RR: Can you describe where you are right now?
Tom Chivers:
Lying in bed watching ‘Miss Polly has a dolly’ with my daughter for the thousandth time.
RR: What's on your mind right now?
Primary school teachers should be paid danger money.
RR: What silver-linings are you experiencing?
My local library cancelled all late fees. Thank god - I’ve had one book out since the last millennium.
RR: What creative activities or online culture would you recommend to our isolating readers?
It’s great to see so many artists and writers adopting live-streaming during the lockdown. One of my authors, Luke Wright, is performing poetry sets every evening from his home in Bungay, Suffolk; another, Abi Palmer, is launching her new book Sanatorium from her inflatable bathtub live on Instagram on Monday 20 April!

RR: What are your hopes for the post-covid-era?
Greater social cohesion. A change of government.
RR: How will you celebrate ‘Liberation Day’?
By continuing to exercise extreme caution.

Follow Tom on Twitter @thisisyogic


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