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ABOUT US

It started with a key. 

On October 1st 2021, I was in a car accident in which I sustained numerous life-altering injuries. During my time in recovery, I was forced to re-evaluate my career and life choices - for seventeen years, I'd worked as a teacher and middle-manager in secondary schools, but now, I was having to find a new path. I'd been writing and performing across the North-West for a year, and knew that whatever I did would need to involve poetry.

Whilst in the hospital, I wrote alongside a number of writers from across the poetry scene, and produced my first pamphlet, The Poet Who Broke Her Back. Seeing how this was received was encouraging, and led me to thinking about how much I enjoyed the process of writing, designing, producing and marketing my own collection. 

The rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

I chose our original name, Bent Key, after finding my front door key a few weeks after the accident. It had been in my pocket and was almost bent in two - despite being made of solid metal. Somehow, my body had escaped the same fate. Bent Key's name and logo served as a reminder - that when life gives you lemons, you can either make lemonade or let them rot. I chose to make the lemonade. This was tested in 2023, when our name was co-opted, and subsequently fast-tracked to trademark, by a right-wing media outlet. Faced with legal action, we had no choice but to protect our peace and change the name that I held so dear. 

Written Off is just as symbolic a choice. After the crash, I felt written off - I'd lost my career - and that was after my car and keys had been written off, too. I believe that too many of us are written off by a society that seeks to invalidate us - and yet we carry on, forever intrepid. Our writers have all, at some point in their lives, felt written off. This name takes that label and recalibrates its meaning. We may have been written off, but write-offs we are absolutely not.

Our ethos is to ensure that all talent is offered opportunity and that nobody with passion and a good manuscript is priced out of writing their story. We champion neurodiverse artists and writers from other marginalised groups, particularly those who find traditional publishing difficult to access due to dyslexia or other needs.

In April 2022 we were privileged to be shortlisted as one of only four independent publishing houses in the UK for a Saboteur Award for Most Innovative Publisher, despite only being operational since January 2022. This was an incredible achievement; one that we did not expect but are very proud to speak about - especially as it's voted for by our peers. We then found ourselves shortlisted again in 2023 - and this time, we won an award for Best Anthology, and one of our writers took the award for Best Short Story Collection. Massive love to everyone who chose to give their vote to us for these accolades.

Due to an incredible level of demand, we're currently closed for submissions. Whilst we'd love to publish more, we simply cannot at this time - but if you have an interest in what we do here and are happy to wait, please get in touch to say hello. We are always looking to build connections.

With love,

Rebecca Kenny, Founder

WOHQ x

Bent Key Publishing Key Logo in Pink

THE TEAM

Poet and Bent Key Publishing founder Rebecca Kenny in front of an orange background

REBECCA KENNY

FOUNDER / editor-in-chief

 

 

Rebecca is a qualified Teacher of English by trade, with seventeen years of experience at the chalkface. She has a BA(Hons) in English and Linguistics and QTS.

She has been writing and performing poetry since 2020 and has been published in several journals and zines; her debut collection Crash & Learn was Bent Key's flagship publication and was released in February 2022.

Image of Caitlin Mckenna performing on stage, knelt on the ground with a microphone in hand

Caitlin Mckenna

Assistant / Cheerleader

 

Caitlin Mckenna is a queer, vegan, commie poet and Junior Communications Executive living in West Yorkshire. 

Their debut chapbook, Now Say It Back was published by Written Off in 2022. Since then, Caitlin has gone on to aid Written Off in running events, updating the website, lending a hand with communications, and other odd jobs here and there. 

Caitlin is a poet, event organiser, community facilitator, and spoken word artist. Find more of them here. 

Samantha Sanderson-Marshall Book Cover Artist.P NG

Samantha Sanderson-Marshall

Book Cover Artist 

 

Samantha Sanderson-Marshall is a creative book cover artist with a varied and exciting catalogue of work. As a graphic designer she has worked in TV and film production developing key art and title logos for the screen whilst also designing props for the UK soap Hollyoaks. When Sefton Pride was formed she was commissioned to create their visual identity for the march and festival. Sam has over fifty cover designs under her belt and works in both an illustrative and photo collage style.

 

Responsible for the visual identity (AKA branding) for our publishing house she also designs the covers for our collections - from chapbooks to anthologies, she is the artistic talent behind our gorgeous designs.

 

You can find her on Instagram @smashdesignsbooks or www.smashdesigns.co.uk where you can see examples of her work.

Proofreader Dr. Cooper Howard smoking a pipe pictured in front of a grey background

Dr. Cooper howard

PROOFREADING / moral support

Cooper is a stand-up comedian, compere, philosopher and published essayist. 

His written work focuses on ethics and philosophy, often with a comedic edge. He can (and will) write anything, and will do whatever it takes for a good story - including interviewing serial killers.

He has been published in many places, from Metal Hammer to Philosophy Now.

He graduated from the University of Manchester with a First in Philosophy.

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