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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

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 Written Off's (back then known as Bent Key) 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

Co-director

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. Committed to improving accessibility and diversity in the creative arts, Cait joined the Written Off team in 2023. 

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

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Alex Callaghan

Editor/Proofreader

Alex Callaghan (they/them) is a non-binary poet from Yorkshire, specialising in wit, whimsy and dinosaurs.

 

As well as writing, performing and editing, they also organise and facilitate events, with a focus on making art more accessible.

 

They also have an awesome black cat named Cut-me-own-throat Dibbler who may or may not be using Alex as a puppet for his own literary genius.

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Charlie parker 

Sales and Bookshops 

Charlie Parker is a freelance writer based in Sheffield.

 

He has performed at festivals across the UK, including one in Helsinki.

 

His first poetry collection was published by Written Off Publishing in 2023, and he is finishing work on his first novel.

 

He currently works as a barista, and interns at Exposed Magazine.

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