In part three of this three-part series, we asked poetry presses about where poetry is headed. This article will give you insights into changes they’d like to see and ways this industry can be improved. We asked the presses the following questions:
- What’s the direction you’d like to see the publication of poetry take?
- How could this industry (the publication of poetry) be improved?
- Do you see a time when poetry collections will have the same genre labels (i.e., memoir/fiction/nonfiction) as novels, and how might these labels impact poets and readers?
What you learn may surprise you.
What’s the direction you’d like to see the publication of poetry take?
Damaged Goods Press: Over the last 5-10 years, poetry has taken a major turn and started to let people who aren’t white cishet men have space to tell their stories. The entire Western canon is built on white men, and other voices are finally starting to take a seat at the table. And yes, women, queer and trans people, BIPOC, and others are taking their seat and making room for everyone because the old conventions wouldn’t give us an equitable place at the table.
Even in 2019, poetry isn’t as equitable as it could be because everything is based around money and competition. Poor folks have it the worst–when a book contest costs $25-$30 for a single manuscript, that’s forcing someone to choose between dinner, gas, utilities, etc., or their writing. This is why submissions for Crab Fat Magazine and Damaged Goods Press have free submissions. Good writing shouldn’t be determined on if someone has the money to submit or not, and I do what I can to ensure this to the best of my (limited) abilities.
dancing girl press: I would love to see more presses that seek out hybrid work. Some of these exist, but there are often still some defined lines between genres and mediums. Even with dancing girl, I feel like I say “poetry,” but really we publish a lot of work that straddles the fence of poetry and prose, and visual mediums like photography and illustration.
rinky dink press: Accessibility. We’re always excited about social justice poetics, and it’s more necessary than ever in the era of Trump, but we want people (aka everyone) to read poetry on the regular, not just MFAs and poets. Thus, we’re all about street fairs and art walks, book fests and zine fests. We like to go national (AWP), but we really believe in infusing our local communities with poetry, and when poetry comes in the form of a microzine, people take notice. And when they start to flip through our microzines, there’s no sense of intimidation despite the contents being poetic in nature.
Another New Calligraphy: There has been a refreshing push to publish marginalized voices, which has of course stirred up a lot of resentment from the old guard. Progressive minds need to be steadfast in their dedication to this cause. I feel dealing with resistance as we move to a new norm is an incremental battle; there’s no quick and easy solution.
Jane’s Boy Press: I think poetry publishing is going wonderfully as a whole right now. What I would like is a world where we teach poetry better in the schools, so people are less “afraid” of it. We’re beginning to see some poetry finally making it into the mainstream, though, to be honest, much of what is available on a department store book rack right now is mediocre, feel-good affirmations. I would love to see the general population get turned on to more powerful poetry, but there’s always the hope that the most popular works become the gateway to the stronger works that are out there.
Unsolicited Press: Poetry is making a comeback thanks to the “lovey” poetry put out by Andrew McMeels, and at first I was angry about this. So much of it is pop culture poetry. But I’ve decided I am okay with it, and only because it is bringing poetry back into the light—everyday readers are finding a way into poetry again. But what I really want to see is American poetry to find form again, and for the everyday reader to feel as though they can read it. All too often I hear from friends and family that they don’t read poetry because it’s “stuffy” or that they “just don’t know how to read poetry,” and I want to find a way to bring rich poetry into modern culture in a way that every mom wants to read it. Of course, it’s possible this conversation is really about the failings of our educational system when it comes to art …
Rose Metal Press: It feels as though we’re living in a golden age for the publication of poetry, actually, with a flowering of small presses of all sizes and tastes, so we sort of would hope for more of the same: a continuation of this flourishing literary landscape in which all sorts of blooms can take root.
Dusie Poetics: Now that POD (print-on-demand) is getting more and more sophisticated, I believe more self-publishing will continue to take place. I hope that this means that more small presses will also pop up, which certainly beats the polarization of poetics. Many more voices and styles should be featured and considered.
Prolific Press Publishing: We’re finally starting to see a meaningful swing away from academic poets and poetry journals. I hope to see much more of that. Academia has its place. I wouldn’t want to see college journals and presses disappear. After all, we ought to teach writing and even publishing, but I’m happy to say that our market analysis shows that academic and university journals are becoming a smaller part of literary journals every year. I have no problem saying that when it comes to poetry, academia tends to produce poor poets that are largely interchangeable. Fortunately, many go on to improve after leaving college.
Faculty is a different animal. Age and experience, and the process of engaging with poetry every day for years, produces some good poets. But in terms of the direction I want to see the industry take, I want to see the industry as a whole swing away from academia.
From my perspective, it’s not particularly prestigious to be published in a journal that wouldn’t survive in the marketplace if not for a college funding. Granted, there was a time when those kinds of presses dominated the market. But now, presses like Prolific Press, that live and die by the selective eye of the editor, and which stand on their own two feet in the marketplace … well, I’ll just say there isn’t a genuine comparison to be made. When you have real skin in the game, the quality of the work goes way up. And some of my favorite presses are small private presses run by passionate people.
Black Lawrence Press: This is simple. I’d like to see more poetry in publication and in the hands of readers.
Redbird Chapbooks: I think publishing needs to be more cooperative. Publishing is of mutual benefit to the press and the author, and they need to work together towards their shared goal of seeing poetry in the world.
Small presses have limited and varied resources. They need to be up front with potential authors about what they are and aren’t providing, any costs involved, how everyone can best collaborate. Authors need to be engaged in promoting their own work, in supporting the presses they publish with.
Litmus Press: We would love to see innovative, experimental poetry continue to gain a wider audience. We are currently working on teaching guides and digital critical editions of out of print titles to facilitate access to what some might consider “difficult” works of poetry and experimental texts. And we are always engaged in how we, as publishers, can work collaboratively rather than competitively in the interest of supporting authors, translators, and new works. We believe in the transformative power of art and literary production, that it is necessary and vital to our humanity. The “market” will never truly support this work, so we must operate with different priorities and a different approach to what makes a work really important.
Sarabande Books: I think we’re easing out of the smart, flashy stage that has no heart or gravity, which is good. Otherwise, poetry is in a great place right now—incredibly diverse, work that had to be written, has a sense of urgency.
BlazeVox: I am not sure, to be honest. I have thought about how to best answer this question but I really do not know how to begin. I have found that in every case, poetry takes care of itself. You can be assured that there will be a discussion on the death of poetry every ten years, just as you can be certain that what is in fashion in poetry today will evolve into another popular form in the near future. Poetry takes its own cues for direction. New small presses begin every year and bring out new and exciting work. Poets follow the publications and new arrangements of familiar forms mature, older poets meet younger poets and they cultivate a conversation, styles develop and poetry grows. So the direction I would like to see poetry take is the form of a tree reaching its branches into the sky.
How could this industry (the publication of poetry) be improved?
Unsolicited Press: If we could increase the exposure of poetry books on the front lines through active selling, it’s possible more Americans would consider reading poetry. We worked with a distributor in the past that was clearly advising their sales reps to push fiction and nonfiction over poetry. For example, we learned that a buyer for a reputable indie bookstore had heard of all our forthcoming fiction titles, but wasn’t informed of our poetry collections. And when more than half of the catalog is poetry, that is very concerning. It’s scary to think sales reps aren’t trained to sell poetry.
Another New Calligraphy: I wonder how technology could be better harnessed in the writing process. In most cases, the internet is simply used to recreate traditional journals on our screens. What would more dynamic publication look like? How could digital resources be used to collaborate or provide feedback on a larger scale than we know today?
Dusie Poetics: I think the industry could be improved with a greater selection of voices. Voices of color, minorities, LGBTQ+, women are all underrepresented as well. There was a great write-up in the Chicago Review several years back by Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young called “Numbers Trouble” that illustrates some of this struggle. Numbers do not lie and this survey could certainly be done again in way of minority groups to identify that the struggle to have alternate views represented is still very real.
Black Lawrence Press: It’s always a struggle to get people to pay attention to poetry the way they pay attention to fiction. I think one of the best ways to change this is to have people start reading more poetry in the classroom—both in K-12 and in college.
Kelsay Books: It is a complicated business, and most publishers walk a fine line. To produce quality books, pay staff, company bills, maintain professional standards, marketing, along with earning a living—it all needs to be carefully balanced.
I think if students learn to write poetry in high school, they might have a greater appreciation for it later on in life. That would lead to more sales and help generate greater overall drive for poetry in bookstores. Poetry is alive and well with poets, but the average person on the street doesn’t gravitate toward purchasing it.
Damaged Goods Press: Poetry publishing could be improved by simply having more funding opportunities available for small presses. Right now, the contest and “pay-to-play” model is unsustainable and forces writers to shoulder the burden of submissions costs. Money should flow towards writers, not away from them, and this causes so many people to miss out on calls for submissions that might otherwise be a wonderful fit for their work. I think this is a challenge of small press publishing that is often discussed, but usually, nothing practical comes from it. This isn’t an indictment of small press publishers, but more so an indictment of how larger institutions make a habit of hoarding and monopolizing the resources that are available to the literary arts. Large presses should consider how their size and influence can amplify or harm small presses.
Sarabande Books: Poetry is finally, finally, selling. And its reach is much wider than before. This has been confirmed by Consortium, our distributor, and we, too, are seeing print runs that go beyond 5000 copies. More of the same I would say. If I had my druthers, there would be no returns. But that’s damaging to booksellers and would never happen in the first place.
dancing girl press: I think just more readers would be great. More support, both financial and word of mouth. More reviews, more interest. More community. For poetry to taken as seriously as fiction as a genre, in terms of gaining new and interested readers. So many readers are scared off by poetry at an early age. As such, they never give contemporary poetry a chance, and might find it a completely different animal than what they remember.
Prolific Press Publishing: There are certainly many improvements to be made, but one really stands out to me because I’m both a writer and a publisher. To illustrate, consider Poetry Quarterly. This is a truly excellent poetry journal, but for all the years of successful publishing, only a handful of loyal poets (whom I have truly learned to love) buy every issue of the journal, regardless of whether their work appears in the issue. We have loyal readers, don’t misunderstand, but I’m speaking about the poets who submit their work to the journal.
Very few poets are interested in developing an ongoing relationship with a press. If they aren’t truly interested in the publication itself, one wonders why they selected that venue to submit to. The cold reality is that most hope to get published, add to their bio, and move on. It’s a sad state of affairs when one considers the alternative.
A loyal base of poets that have a working relationship with an editor, and a history of publication with a press, provides for a better experience for everyone involved. When recurring relationships are cultivated, the journal’s readers quickly begin to pick their favorite voices. Readers become more loyal. And writers, on the other hand, begin to build a readership in a market where any genuine readership is more than difficult to foster; it’s astonishing that more writers haven’t leveraged this reality.
Over the years, I’ve worked with thousands of poets. One thing I’ve learned is that almost all poets desire to acquire some readers that care. They want it more than money or a padded biography. Sadly, many poets express that they feel like they don’t have any regular readers—except friends and family—who care about following their work. Despite this vacuous state of affairs, those same poets tend to plod down the same path, year after year, submitting to journals they don’t read or care about, hoping this practice will take them somewhere new. Speaking for myself, I much prefer to have a connection with a small audience than no connection with a multitude of nameless, faceless, dispassionate one-time readers who really wouldn’t know my name if it were brought up over dinner.
Oddly, many writers boast about the quantity of journals they have been published in. Publishers know the truth. It’s more meaningful (successful) for poets to have a good working relationship with a handful of presses than it is to have a thousand hit and run encounters with one-time readers who don’t care about the voice of the poet. Moreover, as a publisher, when I see a bio that notes multiple publications by the same press (provided it’s a publication with integrity), then I can infer that the publisher liked working with the poet. I can appreciate that.
The industry could be improved if we focused on building legitimate readerships by cultivating closer relationships between poets and presses. And if I could offer poets some advice, I start with suggesting they pick a journal to support. Buy it, every issue from now until you die. Choose your favorite voices and let yourself become a fan of a few lesser-known poets you find via that publication. Write to the editor and express what you like about the poems, and what you could do without, but be more loyal than a Chicago Cubs fan, win or lose. And submit poems to the same journal. You’ll be better for it. That’s my take.
Redbird Chapbooks: I’ve been with Red Bird for seven years. Each year I see more presses and literary magazines close. There are less and less places for authors to publish their work. This naturally makes the publishing process more competitive, harder to break in to.
There could be some real value in presses working together, promoting one another. It takes time but I think it’s important. One thing we try to do at Red Bird is to help promote our authors—this includes sharing news when they release new work with other publishers. This sharing helps readers support the authors they like and introduces audiences and authors to other publishers. New readers may even learn of a title we published years ago that they may not have known about, having the potential to increase sales. It’s a sort of cross pollination, I guess, and based on the idea that we all do better when we all do better.
Jane’s Boy Press: Much of it is about trying to train the buying public, and what we have going against us most often is that the way we have traditionally taught (and continue to teach) poetry—even at the collegiate level—does not open people up to wanting to seek out more poetry. When we teach fiction, we teach the classics, but we also introduce contemporary works. We do the same with drama. But with poetry, for some reason, we take the stance that the only poetry worth studying was written by white, straight men who died at least 100 years ago. You would think poetry was something like Latin—we can study it, but as a practice, it’s dead. If we could get classrooms to feature poets like Jan Beatty, Patricia Smith, Rachel McKibbens, and other vital voices that are making poetry alive and exciting right now, people would be much more excited about finding more poetry and seeking it out.
Rose Metal Press: More and more presses are becoming increasingly mindful of inclusivity and intersectionality in terms of who they publish, and we do our best to do that as well. The industry as a whole feels as though it’s improving in terms of its balance of whose books get to reach an audience, and we hope that trend continues so it’s not merely a trend but a standard. For instance, when we assemble anthologies, we proceed as carefully as we can to achieve a book that ends up balanced in terms of the gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and so forth of the authors in the table of contents, but we know there’s always room for more mindfulness and care on those fronts.
Litmus Press: As far as the small, independent publishing industry—as opposed to the big 5—our real strength is in taking risks on work that is not highly marketable. We get to make choices that are not about our bottom line. And we need to take those risks and support each other in doing so, so we can continue to amplify the marginalized voices, the marginalized thinkers and cultural activists who are doing the real work of conceptualizing our present and our future. We also need to support the advancement of queer, poc editors and publishers in order to truly alter this landscape that is so traditionally white and straight.
rinky dink press: rinky dink press is largely run by a bunch of GenX punks (some of us with MFAs and PhDs, some without), so we’re doing this our way, which is the “we’ve been around the block” way, and we keep our price point low ($1 per microzine), and we put amazing poetry in the coolest package possible, and we hand-fold all of our zines (100+ at a time), and we print our zines on a university copier. What I’m saying is that regardless of the way you run your small press, the operation is going to be challenging unless you have substantial funding and a team of dedicated interns and editors. Or unless you get really creative and buck the status quo. This is art, and we need more free-thinking and more accessibility—economic and racial and cultural.
BlazeVox: Every year provides new opportunities for our editors to reflect on the previous year and consider where improvements can be made. This year for example all of our numbers are up. The journal reached a new milestone in the number of readers and we were very lucky to publish some fine fiction and poetry books, so it was a stellar year. Each poetry press has goals unique to their publication in mind when it comes to seeking improvement. But as an industry as a whole, if poetry can be considered industrialized, I think we are doing quite well in every major area of development one could hope for.
The Poetry Foundation and the Academy of American Poets, along with hundreds of other literary institutions are very active in promoting everything poetry: the writing of poems, the reading of poetry, appreciation of poetry, appreciation for exceptional poets, and so on. This is happening in local communities as well as the nation at large. In the past decade, more and more people are writing poetry as a means to express individuality, creativity, and dissent within the current political climate. The readership of writings by all poets has led to the widespread demand for books by poets of color, LGBT+ poets, women poets from around the globe, and poets with disabilities.
It is really a fantastic time to be a publisher and a reader. The production of books has become easily available to anyone with computer at hand. This means that more and more people are able to self-publish or even begin a small press on their own so that they can jump-start the energy of their own writing as well as the work of their fellow poets among their community. We have a great deal of positive outreach, so it may seem that poetry takes up a small section in the bookshop, its energy is on the streets. But your question was on how to make improvements, and any suggestions I would offer would be to ask everyone involved in poetry to keep this energy flowing and pass this love of poetry as an inheritance to the next generation of readers and writers.
Do you see a time when poetry collections will have the same genre labels (i.e., memoir/fiction/nonfiction) as novels, and how might these labels impact poets and readers?
BlazeVox: I think this would be a good idea to incorporate in future publications. There are a lot of styles of poetry out there, even sci-fi and horror poems are coming into fashion. And I think that this type of genre labels would be very effective in letting readers know what category a particular book of poems falls into, while also allowing poets to expand their horizons by seeing that there is more opportunity for poetry than the tried and true lyrical. At present there is a labeling system in place. The Book Industry Study Group has introduced a Subject Headings List. Updated yearly, the BISAC Subject Codes List is a standard used by many companies throughout the publishing industry to categorize books based on topical content. They offer a broad scope of options for choosing which code best describes the content of a book. Their Poetry grouping has over forty codes to assign, a few examples would be:
POE005050 POETRY / American / African American
POE023010 POETRY / Subjects & Themes / Death, Grief, Loss
POE023050 POETRY / Subjects & Themes / Family
POE024000 POETRY / Women Authors
We apply several of the codes to our all of our books. This is useful for libraries to help catalog the titles as well as to help bookstores best shelve the book so that the store patron as well as the store clerk can easily find the title.
Damaged Goods Press: Poetry collections do have subcategories if that’s what you mean. Just as fiction is divvied into literary fiction, flash, sci-fi, “chick-lit”, romance, etc., poetry is divided into thematic categories. Acknowledging these categories can help readers find topics and themes that suit their own interests. Poetry is just as diverse, if not more so than prose genres, and when people see that not all poetry rhymes, or is in meter, or uses elevated language, it can be something transformative for general readers. Saying “I write poetry” is just the tip of the iceberg, but saying, “I write queer, confessional poetry that centers femme identity” is something else entirely. It acknowledges a specific type of poetry for a specific audience.
Redbird Chapbooks: I certainly don’t see Red Bird adopting genre labels for poetry. Overall, we tend to consider work that blurs or even crosses over the various distinctions. I don’t see poetry moving in that direction. While the urge to classify is a natural human instinct, I don’t see poetry becoming that hyper-focused or specialized as a form. I think classifying poetry in these terms would be limiting for poets. I also think it could potentially alienate readers or cause them to miss out on some great collections.
Another New Calligraphy: I’m not particularly interested in genre, regardless of the medium. The most interesting creative work often exists in the blurry spaces between classifications. Poetry has a bad enough reputation as it is. I worry labels would only lead to a sense of insularity in what readers were open to exploring and what they would dismiss.
Dusie Poetics: Well, most poetry is cataloged as non-fiction, so unless it is a novel in verse it does not often make it over to the fiction section. I do see the hybridization of genres becoming more and more mainstream. Rupi Kaur is labeled as young adult and now graphic-novels live in the fiction section of many libraries and is a definite testament to literatures dynamism and continued organic growth. We label to give an order to materials, we hyper-categorize so that people will find the material. I think crossing the line too much might confuse people (I say this as a librarian whose ultimate goal is to disseminate information), one could argue creative non-fiction is essentially fiction or non-fiction, so the argument over categorization will remain tricky and a type of curation that varies from library to library, as it will in each bookstore.
dancing girl press: As a writer who creates and publishes sort-of hybrid work, I think there is a danger in becoming too entrenched within labels, especially when the most interesting work sometimes defies categorization. A reader might be able to pick up a book and experience it without pre-conceived notions of what to expect inside, but just enjoy it I would love to see that sort of thing happen with our titles.
Rose Metal Press: As a publisher of explicitly hybrid work—work that blends the traits and techniques of more than one genre simultaneously—those days are already here. For instance, a book we’ll be publishing in the Spring of 2020, Audubon’s Sparrow by Juditha Dowd, is a historical novel in poems telling the story of the famous American naturalist, painter, and ornithologist John James Audubon through the eyes and stories of his un-sung wife and collaborator Lucy Bakewell Audubon. We think it’s exciting when genres blend with and borrow from one another, so we welcome the opportunity to help readers get more comfortable with the blurring of genre boundaries.
Jane’s Boy Press: In many ways, this already exists. If you talk about confessionalists versus narrative poets, for example, you’re immediately in the same realm as memoir versus fiction. But, again, we’re taught that poetry is usually about something like a tree or a vase, and it says something about the tree or the vase, and then it’s over, “and aren’t we all glad to move on from that dreadful unit, boys and girls?” Start at the collegiate level and give us a generation of teachers in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms who are not afraid of poetry and have a good understanding of it, and they will go into the schools and get people excited about it, and also understanding it.
Prolific Press Publishing: I hope not, but I think we have a taste of that already. The largest booksellers online already have poetry chopped up into multiple categories. For example, if you want to read MARIPOSAS: A Modern Anthology of Queer Latino Poetry (English and Spanish Edition) by Emanuel Xavier, then you head over to the largest bookseller and find this category: Books : Literature & Fiction : History & Criticism : Criticism & Theory : Paperback : Queer : “poetry.”
I’m personally not a fan of the word “Queer” but my main point is pretty clear. That’s quite a specific category for a poetry book. Is this the direction we’re taking? Will poetry be chopped up like this, into a categories six or more levels deep? Maybe at booksellers online, but hopefully nowhere else.
I don’t see a time when I’ll settle into my favorite bar stool at the Johnstown Firemen’s Club, whereupon a patron will inquire, “Hey, Glenn. Have you read the latest nonfiction poetry book set in the English Moors?”
I guess, no. I don’t think that will happen.
rinky dink press: In the zine world, a zine is a zine. It has a title and cover art and there’s no real need to classify it beyond that. That’s the egalitarian (Whitman-esque) spirit of the zine world. And I’m not saying that Whitman wouldn’t love some of the longer-form poetry that’s being produced today, but Whitman isn’t here to read it. We’re a culture suffering from ADD and technological disconnect, so anytime we can unify around printed material and a spirit of lyrical rebelliousness and social justice, we should jump at the chance. So in the spirit of Gertrude Stein, a zine is a zine is zine. The literary world needs to think about that.
Sarabande Books: What is happening these days is more experimentation with genre, mixes of fiction and nonfiction, poetry techniques applied to essay, etc. I think it’s incredibly exciting and fun. Being one of these practitioners myself, I’m rather biased.
Litmus Press: We see a trend towards the dissolving and blurring of genre boundaries, much more than their assertion. And within poetry certainly, we are interested in how these labels become more complicated. How poets and readers can really move beyond concerns with one genre or another and into the landscape of thought the work itself represents.
Unsolicited Press: No. Poetry will always be some part imagination and some part reality. The term ‘poetry’ is the term for that intersectionality.
If you liked this interview series, then you may also like Natalie Gasper’s other series on literary agents answering your burning questions.
Thank you to all the presses and people who contributed their time and insights for this article.
Bill Ripley founded Another New Calligraphy in 2009. In addition to publishing an extensive catalog of books and albums, he has produced the subscription-based monthly zine Shepherd’s Check, programmed the live music/reading series Pish Posh, and compiled the supplementary audio/text artifact PCM Grapheme. Another New Calligraphy recently launched the online journal Impossible Task. Bill is an elementary educator currently transitioning to the field of social work, where he intends to continue working with vulnerable youth in a therapeutic context. He and his wife live in Chicago.
Diane Goettel has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in English from Brooklyn College. She co-edited the anthologies Feast: Poetry & Recipes for a Full Seating at Dinner and Art & Understanding: Literature from the First Twenty Years of A&U. She is the Executive Editor at Black Lawrence Press, an independent publisher of contemporary poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. She lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband and daughter.
Geoffrey Gatza is an award-winning editor, publisher, and poet. He is the driving force behind BlazeVOX, a small press in Buffalo, NY and was named by the Huffington Post as one of the Top 200 Advocates for American Poetry. He is the author of many books of poetry, including A Dog Lost in the Brick City of Outlawed Trees (Mute Canary 2018), Apollo (BlazeVOX 2014), and HouseCat Kung Fu: Strange Poems for Wild Children (Meritage 2009). Most recently his work has appeared in FENCE and Tarpaulin Sky. His play on Marcel Duchamp was staged in Philadelphia and performed in NYC.
Caseyrenée Lopez is a queer poet, editor, educator, and publisher. They are the author of the new gods (Bottlecap Press, March 2018) and heretic bastard (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, August 2018). Their chapbook when does our blood become a crucifixion is forthcoming from Ghost City Press in summer 2019. In addition to writing, Caseyrenée edits Crab Fat Magazine and publishes poetry and experimental work by queer and trans people at Damaged Goods Press. They tweet nonsense and hot takes @caseyreneelopez.
A writer and book artist working in both text and image, Kristy Bowen is the author of a number of chapbook, zine, and artist book projects, as well as several full-length collections of poetry/prose/hybrid work, including SALVAGE (Black Lawrence Press, 2016) and MAJOR CHARACTERS IN MINOR FILMS (Sundress Publications, 2015). She lives in Chicago, where she runs dancing girl press & studio. A new book, SEX & VIOLENCE, is due out next spring from Black Lawrence Press.
Susana Gardner is the author of full-length poetry collections [lapsed insel weary] (The Tangent Press, 2008), HERSO (Black Radish Books, 2011) and CADDISH, (Black Radish Books, 2013). Her latest book, Somewhere Upon a Time / Oceanids & Dreampomes is forthcoming. Her poetry has appeared in Jacket, How2, Puerto Del Sol, Cambridge Literary Review and Chicago Review, among others. Her work has also been translated into Icelandic, Italian and French as well as featured in several anthologies, including NOT FOR MOTHERS ONLY: Contemporary Poems on Child-Getting and Child-Rearing (Fence Books, 2007) and in the forthcoming CITY AND SEA Anthology from Frequency Writers, Providence, among others. She lives on an island off the New England coast where she tends books, writes and curates the online poetics journal and experimental press, Dusie.
CJ Southworth founded Jane’s Boy Press in the fall of 2014 with the goal of offering a platform for new, emerging, and established poets to publish their work. He holds a Bachelors and Masters degree from St. Lawrence University and a PhD in Creative Writing from SUNY Binghamton. He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize and was the 2015 winner of the Allen Ginsberg Award. He has published more than 50 poems in journals and magazines such as Assaracus, Paterson Literary Review, and Main Street Rag. His fiction has appeared in Jonathan and Glitterwolf. He currently teaches English at SUNY Jefferson Community College.
Karen Kelsay is an editor, poet, and managing director of Kelsay Books. She is also the founding editor of The Orchards Poetry Journal. Karen belongs to the Rock Canyon Poets in Utah Valley and has been published in over 300 magazines and journals.
m/ryan murphy is the Managing Editor at Litmus Press. They live in Brooklyn, NY via Mississippi. They were named a finalist for The Poetry Project’s 2018-19 Emerge–Surface–Be Fellowship & host a monthly reading series called Earshot. They have a forthcoming chapbook entitled void of pronouns from Damaged Goods Press. Some of their work exists in or is forthcoming from Entropy, The Felt, The Poetry Project Newsletter, Anomaly, Cosmonauts Avenue, and Bone Bouquet. The rest explores nonhuman rights, caesurae, queerness, and language’s existence beyond the confines of the page. Virtually friend them @mryanmurphy.
Glenn Lyvers is an award-winning writer and editor living in Johnstown, PA. He has edited over 150 journal issues and more than 60 books. He has been widely published and enjoys supporting fledgling journals. He serves as the Masthead for Prolific Press, a small publishing house in the USA, where he oversees the publication of a group of literary journals in various genres, a full publishing platform, and an international chapbook series. More about Glenn Lyvers, his books, biography, awards, and association to the arts can be found at https://glennlyvers.com/.
Sarah Hayes is a writer and visual artist working in the forms of poetry, creative non-fiction, digital photography, collage, and the book arts. She earned her MFA from Hamline University and currently resides in Saint Paul, MN. Her chapbook, The Heart of Everything That Is, was published in 2014.
She serves as the Executive Director for Red Bird Chapbooks, where she also edits and designs books and gets to discover new authors. In her past life she has been a transportation executive, a number cruncher, and an airplane mechanic.
rinky dink press is a Phoenix-based publisher of single-author micro-collections in microzine form. Not only are we publishing socially resonant poetry, we’re publishing it in a radical container (a microzine), one that resists the status quo and the rules of the establishment, one that’s redefining indie publishing within the world of poetics. Accordingly, rdp privileges DIY design practices and community-based distribution via art walks and festivals. Our mission is to get poetry back in the hands of the people, and our format and price ($1 per micro-collection) are making that possible.
Founding editor Rosemarie Dombrowski: https://rdpoet.com/
Co-editor-in-chief Shawnte Orion: http://batteredhive.blogspot.com/
Abigail Beckel is the publisher and cofounder of Rose Metal Press. She has worked professionally in publishing for more than 17 years at publishing houses such as Pearson Education, Beacon Press, and Blackwell-Wiley Publishing, and as a magazine editor for United Business Media. She is a published poet and prose writer and lives near Washington, DC.
Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, as well as a founding member of Poems While You Wait, a team of poets and their typewriters who compose commissioned poetry on demand. She teaches in the English Department at DePaul University, and her most recent books include the national best-seller, Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (St. Martin’s Press, 2017) and The Listening Room: A Novel of Georgette and Loulou Magritte (Spork Press, 2018). She lives in Chicago with her spouse, the writer Martin Seay. Her World War I novel Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey is forthcoming from Penguin in 2020.
Sarah Gorham is a poet and essayist, and most recently the author of Alpine Apprentice (2017), which made the short list for 2018 PEN/Diamonstein Award in the Essay and Study in Perfect (2014), selected by Bernard Cooper for the 2013 AWP Award in Creative Nonfiction. Both were published by University of Georgia Press. Gorham is also the author of four collections of poetry— Bad Daughter (2011), The Cure (2003), The Tension Zone (1996), and Don’t Go Back to Sleep (1989). Other honors include grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and three state arts councils. She is co-founder and editor-in-chief at Sarabande Books, an independent, nonprofit literary publisher, now celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary.
S.Stewart is the managing editor at Unsolicited Press, a small press that publishes creative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction.
NATALIE GASPER is an internationally performed poet whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Write Launch, The Hickory Stump, The Remembered Arts Journal, Noon by Arachne Press, and ellipsis…literature & art, amongst others. She works as an interviewer and reader for The Nasiona, and is an editorial intern with a prominent New York literary agency.
Featured image: Photograph by Teddy Tavan on Unsplash.