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Staff, Board and Patrons

The Staff

Ra Page – CEO, Founder and Publisher

Ra is the CEO and Founder of Comma Press. He has edited over 30 anthologies, including The City Life Book of Manchester Short Stories (Penguin, 1999), The New Uncanny (winner of the Shirley Jackson Award, 2008), and most recently The Cuckoo Cage (2022). He has coordinated a number of publisher development initiatives, including Literature Northwest (2004-2013), and the Northern Fiction Alliance (2016-present). He is a former journalist and has also worked as a producer and director on a number of short films. He read Physics and Philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford and has an MA in English from the University of Manchester. Ra was recognised by the h100 Awards two years running (2019/2020) for his contribution to the Publishing & Writing industry in the UK, and was included in The Bookseller 150 list in 2020, their annual guide to the book trade's most influential figures.

Kirstie Millar – Publishing Manager

Kirstie holds an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from UEA and was a recipient of the Ink, Sweat and Tears scholarship. She has previously worked at Visual Editions, on the Peabody Futures award-winning digital book series Editions at Play and as Creative Coordinator on Five Dials, a literary magazine published by Hamish Hamilton. Her writing has been published by Prototype, 3 of Cups Press, Takeaway Press and The Emma Press. She is the founding editor of Ache, an intersectional feminist press founded in 2017 publishing writing and visual art on illness, health, bodies and pain.

Nia Thomas – Events and Marketing Coordinator 

Nia Thomas is Publishing Assistant at Comma Press. They graduated from The Courtauld Institute of Art with a First-Class degree in History of Art before moving back to Manchester and co-founding Salt Manchester, an independent magazine publishing on arts and culture in Greater Manchester. A freelance arts writer, Nia has interviewed various artists and poets such as Hans Ulrich Obrist, Lemn Sissay and Tarek Lakhrissi and previously worked as Operations Assistant at Reform Radio. In 2019, they were selected as a Barbican Young Visual Artist and published a photography book exploring placemaking in the West of Ireland. The work was exhibited in a group exhibition at the centre and later at the Feminist Literary Festival.

Basma Ghalayini – Operations Officer

Basma has an academic background in Management Information Systems and has worked in various finance roles within the past seven years in commercial and not-for-profit sectors. Previously she was Senior Finance Officer at Cellusys Limited. She also works as a freelance translator from Arabic to English. At Comma, she oversees the Arabic imprint, and edited Palestine + 100.

Laura Mehers – Sales and Publicity Coordinator 

Laura graduated from the University of Liverpool in English Literature and later from Liverpool John Moores with a First-Class masters in Journalism. After doing her dissertation on media representations of gendered violence, she spent six months investigating domestic violence on Merseyside as a journalist. Laura previously worked as both a regional and national news reporter, specialising in health, climate and charity sector news. She is still a very occasional freelance writer.

Editor-at-Large

Orsola Casagrande is a journalist, filmmaker, and activist. As a journalist, she worked for 25 years for the Italian daily newspaper il manifesto, and is currently co-editor of the web magazine Global Rights. She writes in Italian, English, Spanish and Turkish, and speaks Kurdish and French, as well as having basic conversational skills in Farsi and the Basque language. Based between Barcelona, Venice and Havana, Orsola writes regularly on Spanish, Catalan and Basque politics, as well as the Colombian peace process. She has collaborated with international peace mediator Brian Currin on peace negotiations in the Basque country, Kurdistan, and Colombia. She was a curator of Planet K, the Kurdish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009, has co-translated and edited numerous books (including The Book of Havana, The Book of Venice and The American Way), as well as written several of her own.

Design

Dave Eckersall, Steve Moyler, Ruth Packer, Rachel Goodyear, Hondartza Fraga, and Inez Hickman, with additional design work by Maria Crossan, Matt Roeser, Lisa Romero, and Rachel Goodyear.

Website

Field.

The Board

Sarah Eyre (Chair)

Sarah Eyre is the Course Leader of BA (Hons) Fashion Photography at Leeds Arts University. Sarah has worked in documentary film production as a researcher, and has directed and produced a number of short films that have been screened at the Cornerhouse, Manchester, BBC Big Screen and at a number of national and international film festivals. She has exhibited work in China, Dean Clough Halifax, QUAD, Derby, as part of Format Photography Festival, Paper Gallery, Manchester, South Square Gallery, Bradford, Madlab and Cornerhouse, Manchester. Her work has been published in Source Magazine, Of the Afternoon, The Skinny and Hunger.tv.

Rob Appleby

Professor Rob Appleby is a lecturer in the high energy particle physics group of the University of Manchester. His primary research is into the physics of particle accelerators, including beam dynamics and lattice design, and he is involved in the International Linear Collider and Large Hadron Collider projects. He is also a member of the LHCb collaboration at the LHC, where he is responsible for machine induced backgrounds.

Kavita Bhanot

Kavita Bhanot is an editor, translator and writer interested in the politics of reading, writing and publishing. Her essays on the importance and challenges of decolonising translation, and publishing more widely, have been published by Media Diversified/Lines of Dissent, as well as English PEN. She is editor of the anthology Too Asian, Not Asian Enough (Tindal Street Press 2011), The Book of Birmingham (Comma Press, 2018) and co-editor of the Bare Lit anthology (Brain Mill Press, 2017). She has a PhD from Manchester University, and is currently researching Punjabi literature as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Leicester University, where she is also a Creative Writing Fellow. She was selected for the National Centre for Writing’s Emerging Translator Mentorship Programme and was mentored by Jeremy Tiang. Her translation of Ma is Scared Anjali Kajal will be published by Comma in 2022.

Will Carr

Will Carr is Deputy Director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation (www.anthonyburgess.org), working on writing, music, theatre and exhibition projects. He has previously worked in prisons and as a jazz pianist, and has held senior roles at the Poetry School, Arts Council England and the Wordsworth Trust. His edition of Anthony Burgess's novel The Pianoplayers was published by Manchester University Press in 2017, and his selection of Burgess's journalism The Ink Trade was published by Carcanet Press in 2018.

Ruth Daniel

Ruth is an award-winning cultural producer, activist and social entrepreneur. She is Co-Director of Place of War – a support system for community artistic, creative and cultural organisations in places of conflict, revolution and areas suffering the consequences of conflict. She was Founder and Director of Manchester-based independent record label, Fat Northerner Records (2003 – 2010); global grassroots music event and community founder and Director of Un-Convention; and Director of new seaside ‘festival of festivals’, One of These Days. Ruth is also a regular speaker at cultural festivals and events, including TEDX, British Council, International Alert, Primavera Sounds, Berlin Music Week.

James Draper

James Draper is Manager of the Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, home of the UK's biggest and most successful postgraduate literary community. He has extensive experience of developing and delivering creative programmes, projects and events within higher education and in partnership with UK and international partners, specialising in enterprise, knowledge exchange, marketing and communications. As one of Manchester Met's first Enterprise Fellows, he launched the international Manchester Writing Competition in 2008, which has awarded £175,000 to writers to date. He has provided consultancy for arts, community and educational organisations looking to develop commercial activity, taught English and Creative Writing at degree level and was a founding Director of the Manchester Children's Book Festival.

Noor Hemani

Noor is a bookseller at Lighthouse Books in Edinburgh, a radical, left-wing, queer, antiracist bookshop in the heart of the city. She sells books, chairs events and interviews writers – she got an award for being good at this in 2019. She also has another job working for a human rights charity where she does research and translation from Arabic to English. She has a degree in English Literature and a Masters in Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic

Jill Lovecy

Jill is Labour Councillor for Rusholme Ward and a retired lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester.

Patrons

Maxine Peake

Bolton-born and RADA-trained actress Maxine Peake has enjoyed a prolific career in theatre, television, radio and film with many career highlights, including The Theory of Everything, Shameless, Dinnerladies, Three Girls, Peterloo and many other award-winning TV dramas and theatre productions. She is a Trustee at The Working Class Movement Library in Salford and Vice President of The Marx Memorial Library in Clerkenwell, East London. Maxine is a feminist and socialist and has often brought these views into her work.

Courttia Newland

Courttia Newland was born in West London where he still lives and which inspires much of his writing. He is the author of four acclaimed novels: The Scholar, Society Within, Snakeskin and A River Called Time. His short stories have appeared in several anthologies. He is also the co-editor of IC3: The Penguin Book of New Black Writing in Britain. Newland has, with his band of actors and an experienced director, cut his teeth in the world of theatre with his company, The Post Office Theatre Co. He was a screenwriter on Steve McQueen's Small Axe: Lovers Rock and Red, White and Blue. He was Fellow at the London College of Communication until December 2004 and works with selected Further Education partners in west London. In 2021 he was awarded a PhD from Kingston University London.