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Coach House Books editorial director Alana Wilcox.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The small Canadian press Coach House Books, well-known for its commitment to poetry, has stunned the Canadian literary community with its announcement that its poetry publishing program is on hiatus until further notice.

"It's a challenging time in the poetry world, and publishing poetry is always difficult, and we just want to take a step back and consider how we do that and just think through our mandate, our procedures, our policies," Alana Wilcox, editorial director, told The Globe and Mail in an interview.

Coach House said this decision will not affect those books under contract, which includes a full roster for 2018 and 2019.

"This doesn't change anything with respect to those books. We're absolutely committed to publishing them as well as we would any of our other books," Ms. Wilcox said.

There will be no layoffs as a result at the Toronto-based company, which employs four people in addition to freelancers. But Coach House will not be accepting any poetry submissions until further notice.

"Before we acquire anything new, we want to step back and think about the program," Ms. Wilcox said.

During the hiatus, Coach House will revisit the mandate, policies and procedures guiding its poetry list.

"The world is changing, and poetry is, too. It's important once in a while to shake things up, to rethink how and why you make the decisions you do. We've got brilliant books planned for the next two years, which gives us a good opportunity to step back for a little while and think about the future," Ms. Wilcox stated.

The company, founded in 1965 as Coach House Press, has a history that reads like a who's who of CanLit, publishing luminaries such as Michael Ondaatje, bpNichol, Dorothy Livesay, Ann-Marie MacDonald and Anne Michaels. Its current roster includes Scotiabank Giller Prize and Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize winner André Alexis (Fifteen Dogs); Griffin Prize winning poet Christian Bok (Eunoia); author and playwright Claudia Dey (Trout Stanley).