Indie Spotlight: 3 of Cups Press
By Mara Radut, Millie Kiel and Caitlin Morgan
At The Publishing Post, we are all about inclusivity and championing a variety of perspectives. In this issue, we are looking at the perfect advocate for these values: 3 of Cups Press.
Founded in 2017 and made up of seven team members, this indie describes itself as “a micropublisher dedicated to providing a platform for voices otherwise unheard in the mainstream.” Combating passivity, 3 of Cups Press believes that art and literature go beyond aesthetic and storytelling – they are vessels of activism. From the art it is promoting to the environment it is creating for their contributors, its main focus is equality. Equality, peace, fairness and inclusivity are the pillars of this independent publisher whose team is solely formed of women and non-binary folks. This is, in itself, a small quiet yet revolutionary act of pushing against the status quo.
Based in London, 3 of Cups Press publish beautiful anthologies that explore topics such as human relationships, body struggles and experiences, anxiety and many more relevant subjects. Their most recent publication is a collection of poetry about imagined histories, inspired by folklore and mythology. Edited by Maz Hedgehog, Tell Me Who We Were Before Life Made Us was published in June 2021 and contains poems by thirty-four brilliant writers trying to figure out… who we were before life made us.
Also recently published is The Outsiders, a collection of short stories exploring the identity of the outsider: what does it mean? Who is an outsider? And if the notion of an outsider is something we’re comfortable with, what then constitutes an insider? With themes such as loss, direction (or a lack of), insecurity and hunger of all kinds, this collection is an insightful exploration of identity and belonging.
The books published by 3 of Cups Press also focus on much more practical topics dealt with beautifully. Their anthology On Anxiety deals with the ever present and varied experiences people have with anxiety, stress, worry – all its guises. With work from Sophie Mackintosh, Sarvat Hasin, Eley Williams, Sharlene Teo, Marianne Tatepo, Erin Aniker, Alice Slater, Eli Goldstone and others, this collection is as varied in content as it is in writing: with poetry, prose, essays and art about anxiety in all its forms. It is truly something special that a press such as 3 of Cups has the space for artists and writers to dissect something like anxiety – a common condition that is still chained by societal taboos. In doing so, 3 of Cups Press, true to their activist nature, silently works on breaking down invisible but real barriers.
Apart from their online shop, you can find their books in London at Burley Fisher Bookshop, the South London Gallery Bookshop, Pages of Hackney and the London Review Bookshop, as well as in Edinburgh at Lighthouse Bookshop and Golden Hare Bookshop and in Bristol at Hydra Books. Showing that their literature is gracefully dotted across the UK and hopefully is the start of a presence that is not to be dismissed.
The beautiful thing about small, independent publishing is the proximity it can have to readers. 3 of Cups Press, for example, have recently visited the LGBTQ+ Zine Fair at Brixton Library earlier this year. The exchange of ideas and passions that can be enabled by these spaces, coupled with the proximity gained by a smaller publisher getting closer to readers, is a perfect example of the inclusivity and accessibility that publishing should be focused on.
It will come as no surprise that we, the Indie Presses Team at The Publishing Post, are admirers of and believers in the power of the small press. Not to be underestimated, there is something truly special about the way in which a smaller independent publisher can create a community. Often with more specific interests at heart, the focused passion of the people behind so many small presses attracts fellow enthusiasts and readers, creating safe spaces for discussions while also putting key ideas out into the world, widening the conversation and bringing more people into the fold.
And this is precisely what is achieved by 3 of Cups Press: creating a space for discussions that are so often passed over, forgotten about or deliberately ignored, thereby bringing them closer and closer to the forefront. It seems to be a fantastic space for the human condition to be deeply explored in a way that allows its literature to fully flourish … if that’s not one of the aspects that makes literature truly exciting, then it’s hard to pinpoint what is.
It’s these things that make 3 of Cups so incredible, as it seems to us. The commitment to storytelling and harnessing its power and appeal as a mode of activism, the championing of voices and stories that so often go unheard or un-listened to in other channels and the engagement and interaction with readers. 3 of Cups are clear advocates for literature that has the power to influence and inspire. All of this wraps up to form a pretty inspiring small press, with a hefty punch!