In part two of this three-part series, we asked poetry presses about the challenges that come with being a small press publisher. This article will give you insights into the barriers they face and how their struggles impact who, what, and how much they publish. We asked the presses the following questions:
- What’s the biggest barrier you face in publishing manuscripts?
- What conventions or practices in the world of small press publishing do you struggle with?
- Describe some challenges you currently face in the poetry industry, and some you foresee in the future.
What you learn may surprise you.
What’s the biggest barrier you face in publishing manuscripts?
Unsolicited Press: Dare I say it: money. As much as we all hate money here, given that we all volunteer our time to keep this press alive, there is a price tag to publication. As a small press, we are locked out of national audiences (which we no longer care about…we’ve found our people) because we don’t have tens-of-thousands-of-dollars to spend on a marketing/PR campaign. Beyond capital, sadly, it’s authors who fail to let us know that they have no intention of promoting their books in any form. Seriously. We’ve had authors who pull the “I’m a recluse” card after eighteen months of book development — this is usually after they told us in the past that they love promoting and have no problem holding a reading. And then all of a sudden, they don’t do readings and they won’t tell their friends they’ve even written a book (yes, this has happened). That, actually, may be worse than not having a lot of money.
Damaged Goods Press: Publicity and marketing are on the top of the list as far as barriers go. This is something we’ve worked on improving, but because we operate on a shoe-string budget, out of our home, we don’t have the means to send out tons of review/advance copies, make press kits, or hire a publicist. Social media helps, but really, we rely on writers to help with promotion. This is something we’re very upfront about as well. I think it’s important to be transparent about expectations, and remind people that Damaged Goods Press is a micro-press. We don’t have grant money, donors, or institutional affiliation, so that lack of support does make things harder, but we pay our writers, which is not something many micro-presses do. We work hard to make sure the books we produce are beautiful and something authors can be proud of.
Prolific Press Publishing: Finding the right combination of project, writer, and marketing plan…
As a small press, we have a limited budget. We have to be very selective about what we print. We have to find great books that we think we can sell. By the time we invest in the infrastructure to find books we want to bring to market, the budget is already very tight.
We also have to sell books. It’s not easy to sell books in today’s market, especially books by lesser-known writers. Finding the right relationships, that special synergetic chemistry between the publisher and a highly motivated writer willing to help promote the finished book is probably the biggest hurdle.
Too many writers hand their manuscript to a publisher and assume the success or failure of their book is the publisher’s responsibility. Yes, publishers ought to do their part, but even a truly great book will fail at a small press without a motivated writer. And of the writers who say they understand that self-promotion comes with publishing, many assume they have done their part if they post a link to social media and do a reading that same Saturday. Every little bit helps, obviously, but if it takes a year to publish a book, promoting it one Saturday afternoon isn’t really what the publisher is hoping for. All this being said, there are a small percentage of great writers who are highly motivated too. The biggest barrier is finding that particular writer at a time he/she has a good book ready to publish.
Redbird Chapbooks: I think our biggest barrier is capacity. We receive hundreds of manuscripts each year and we’re able to publish only a fraction of them. Red Bird is 100% volunteer operated. Many of our team members work and/or attend school full-time. They have families, hobbies, and their own writing and artistic practices. Despite all those other demands for their time, they are saying I believe in Red Bird and want to help bring authors’ and artists’ work into this world. They edit, or design, or show up every week to fold and sew books. It’s truly a team effort.
Sarabande Books: Raising funds for general operating costs, which include the money to publish books. Fundraising is at least a third of what I do all day. I would love to spend more time acquiring new manuscripts and editing! Also…really top quality creative nonfiction (essay) is often hard to find. Agents are grabbing these manuscripts up faster than you can blink. And, in these cases, a small press generally can’t compete with commercial publishers’ advances.
BlazeVox: The biggest barriers are the resources available to a small press, which are far and few between. Those resources primarily are time, money, and energy. If we had more of these we would be able to bring out books from authors who deserve to be published. We would also be able to have a higher budget for marketing, publicizing, and advertising. But we make the most out of what we have, so we feel confident in our ability to publish far into the future.
dancing girl press: I suppose time is my biggest obstacle. I work a full-time, 40 hour a week job, in addition to the press and my own creative work, so it’s always hard to find balance. We get so many good submissions, so I am always struggling to decide how much is too much to take on for any given year. I love publishing so many voices, but it’s balanced in terms of what is realistic in terms of time.
Rose Metal Press: The twin barriers of time and money. We’re a small operation with just two people-Abby Beckel and Kathleen Rooney-at the helm, supported by a small and dedicated team of designers and interns. This makes for an environment with a lot of collaboration and aesthetic freedom, but means that we only put out two full-length books a year because we want to be sure that every book we release is beautifully produced inside and out, and that in terms of marketing and publicity, every book gets as much attention as we can muster from the book buying-and book reading-public.
rinky dink press: We try to put out 10 micro-collections/micro-chapbooks per series, two series per year. Like most small presses, we all work for free in our barely existent free-time. In the early days, we had 4-6 students on the editorial board, then our student editors graduated and moved on, so we rounded up former students and community poets. We were terribly understaffed at AWP 2019, but we’re up to 10 editors now, and everyone seems thrilled to be working with the press. So I guess our biggest barriers have historically been staffing and time-management. And spotty social media presence!
Litmus Press: As a small nonprofit publishing non-mainstream work, the biggest barrier to publishing is cost. Our editorial board is made up of volunteers and we have a miniscule staff. In order to select, design, print, and promote these important but off-the-beaten-path works, we spend a large amount of time fundraising and grant writing.
Another New Calligraphy: Another New Calligraphy is a one-person endeavor, so most barriers stem from trying to fit it all in my schedule and/or sustaining the energy to do so. I enjoy handling everything, but having a team would probably help keep me going whenever a sense of doubt starts to cloud my thoughts.
Dusie Poetics: The biggest challenge Dusie faces would be garnering reviews. If there is a magic formula to this, please share. In the early days of publishing placing reviews seemed easier. Since the press is so tiny, authors have to do a lot of legwork as well. Some writers are better are self-promoting and it certainly isn’t an easy task.
Jane’s Boy Press: Time. We’re a very small operation (three people), and we don’t do this with a profit motive, so we all have other work and life commitments. We would love to have the ability for this to be our 9-5 job, but we can’t, and that means we squeeze our publishing work in between classes, work schedules, and families. Unfortunately, over the last two years, we’ve had a “perfect storm” where all three of us have dealt with either health or family crises that have impacted our ability to have the time that we typically steal from other areas to keep things moving at the pace they were when we started. We’re just beginning to develop something in the way of forward motion again.
Black Lawrence Press: We’re limited by the number of books that we are able to publish per year. As we continue to grow, we hope to be able to publish more titles on an annual basis.
Kelsay Books: The most time-consuming factor is working with poets who edit and change their work after we have begun the layout. We have an excellent team at Kelsay Books, and our goal is to showcase the manuscripts we receive in the most beautiful way possible and to do it promptly. And for the poet to love their book and make the process run smoothly. We are always trying to streamline the publishing process to make it more efficient, cut down on wait time and eliminate miscommunication. I work hard to maintain our house style and standards while trying to blend in the poet’s ideas for their book.
Our goal is to make sure each book we finish has a happy ending as far as our poetry clients are concerned. While we appreciate there will sometimes be differences of opinion during the process, our end goal is to ensure that our poets feel satisfied that there has been a job well-done.
What conventions or practices in the world of small press publishing do you struggle with?
Damaged Goods Press: Honestly, peopling and “getting out there,” or making space for big literary-focused events like AWP, regional book festivals, and things like that. Being able to carve out the time and money to travel to these events is often a huge barrier and keeps us away from meeting with our literary peers.
Another New Calligraphy: The burden of needing to constantly produce more work is certainly a reflection of general social expectations, but it’s damaging all the same. Poets seem especially sensitive to the idea of being judged based on their output. In truth, I don’t care if you have 300 publications or if you’re trying for the first time. Do I enjoy your work?
Prolific Press Publishing: Many publishers subsidize large bookstores by allowing wholesale returns for any and no reason. This contributes to some 90% of publishers going out of business in their first few years. They try to offer the same terms as other publishers, but because of the subsidy policies designed to benefit bookstores, they lose money before ever getting big enough to turn a profit. Once a publisher reaches a certain size, the damage this practice causes can be absorbed, but in some important ways, only because others are crushed by these same policies. The only winners are the bookstores, and I’m all for supporting a bookstore that cares, but if they cared, they wouldn’t engage in practices that hurt writers and publishers.
Not only do many bookstores buy books at wholesale prices, lots of books in order to meet buying quotas that give them the biggest discounts from distribution chains, they send back the books (often before even unboxing them) at the publisher’s expense. In fact, many bookstores won’t buy a book unless they can buy it wholesale with a return policy. No other industry does this. This practice has been going strong since the Great Depression, and in recent years, many small publishers, including Prolific Press, have taken a stand. We don’t allow wholesale returns. We already offer wholesalers deep (very deep) discounts.
We believe allowing wholesale returns hurt writers and the publishing industry as a whole.
The struggle is real, as they say, because the convention is to allow bookstores to get away with this practice. It comes down to integrity. The way the industry works, in this regard, is wrong. Admittedly, taking this stand isn’t good for our bottom-line, but on the other hand, if we have to compromise our integrity by not acting on our convictions, we should be in some other business.
I think we’re doing the right thing. We don’t foster an environment where some people profit at the expense of others. We compete in the marketplace, and we stand on our own. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Unsolicited Press: It starts with an upheaval of the entire publishing industry — with bookstores ordering books that are not returnable (or if they are returnable, then a set returns window) and doing their job of selling the books. In what world does it makes sense for the main point-of-sale outlet (bookstores are essentially sales reps with a physical manifestation of a catalog on their shelves) to be permitted to buy product at a killer deal, and then have zero obligation to sell the products? And then when their meager sales tactics fail to move product, they can return the books in whatever condition they want for a 100% refund? Doesn’t that seem odd? I’m not advocating that the bookstores take all the risk, but bookstores need to be more than libraries with cashiers. Currently, they reap all the rewards of a book sold (or unsold) while the author and the publisher get the short stick. If you saw the condition of returned books from retailers, you would be appalled to learn that they got a refund. Ninety percent of the returned books cannot be resold due to their condition. The author loses the royalty. The publisher loses the cost to print the book…we all lose the sale. But the bookstore? They walk off with a full wallet.
Redbird Chapbooks: One of the issues we continue to struggle with is reaching new audiences. We don’t have a large advertising budget, so we need to be really intentional about how we try to grow.
We’re lucky to be located in a really strong literary community, benefiting from lots of talented authors, literary art centers, and Rain Taxi’s annual Twin Cities Book Festival.
A few years ago we were able to participate in the AWP Conference when it was in Minneapolis. A lot of authors from all over the country learned of us for the first time in those short few days in 2015. We’re listed in some of the common databases – Duotrope, Poets & Writers. We have also provided titles to the Poets House annual showcase three years in a row now and know that authors and bookstores have discovered us that way. All that helps, but it would be great if we could reach more people.
Dusie Poetics: I would like to have better publicity and reviews done for all of the work Dusie publishes. I have considered having a review at dusie.org to get more reviews out into the world as well. I offer books or pdfs to any potential reviewer but nothing compares, it seems to having the poet’s enthusiasm when marketing, publishing and selling books. Dusie has long published free e-chaps online to attract greater audiences.
Litmus Press: Some of our bigger challenges have to do with visibility. With a small staff and limited budgets, advertising in relevant publications (print or online), travel support for author readings, and attendance at book fairs and conferences can be prohibitively expensive.
dancing girl press: Most presses & journal run on a shoe-string budget, which makes it harder for them not to charge reading/submission fees. But if you charge people to submit, you shut out a lot of voices who cannot afford to throw down $10 or more every time they send a manuscript out. Which limits your pool of writers to those privileged enough afford it. I can see both sides, the publishers that are trying to make do, and the writers who want to get their work out there, and both sides suffer. I’m not sure there is a solution beyond more support for everyone involved.
Kelsay Books: I struggle with the business model that seems widespread, where retail stores want to return unsold titles to the publisher. And shops that insist on authors paying large processing fees to add poetry books (on consignment) to their store shelves.
This October will be my eighth year publishing poetry books. I have edited a little over six hundred titles. It has taken some time to find printing companies that work well with my company. Some have higher shipping costs, some charge handling fees; others have inferior quality paper. They may do a fantastic job but have poor customer service. It all comes down to trial by fire. I have spent hours and hours of my time searching for the best team—the printers I use, my cover designer, our layout editor, and our copyeditor—they are all excellent to work with and professional, considerate people.
BlazeVox: By my nature, I struggle with convention. And in the world of small presses there are many kinds of conventions we follow in hopes of doing the right things to get our books noticed. But the thing I struggle with most is an essential aspect to our work, the practice of rejection and acceptance. A large part of the workload in small press publishing is rejecting many fine manuscripts; and that is a very difficult task and at times can be demanding. I write poetry and my work is rejected more times than accepted. It is a thing to get used to in life in any creative endeavor, but it never ever feels good. So I, along with our editors, am always cognizant of the struggle all writers all go through to get our artwork out there.
rinky dink press: Presses have to be realistic and have sustainable expectations, and sometimes that means cutting corners, but we think it means more DIY and less flashiness, fewer high-priced collections that cater almost exclusively to other poets. We make beautiful little things that contain impactful words for a dollar. If there’s something you want to see, i.e. a paradigm shift, you can’t wait for the industry or the university to come around. If we learned anything from punk (and grunge), it’s that you have to make the waves, not just ride them.
Sarabande Books: Returns. Steep discounts. We do have terrific distribution, so I’m not worried about that.
Jane’s Boy Press: Just trying to make the whole system work with three people. I think any small press that is run by a handful of people (or sometimes only one person) who truly care about what they are doing are constantly struggling to make what they do happen and balance it with the reality that it doesn’t pay the bills.
Describe some challenges you currently face in the poetry industry, and some you foresee in the future.
Jane’s Boy Press: Visibility is an issue. If you walk into a Target or a Walmart, they aren’t going to stock poetry unless it’s on the Times Bestseller List. This means going to dedicated bookstores, which still are often focusing on the most popular and classical poetry, and not picking up some of the less obvious choices for their shelves. If you find an independent bookstore that knows their niche, you’ll find a goldmine of wonderful books to read. But you usually have to search pretty hard or go directly to publishers’ websites or know what it is you’re trying to find.
Another New Calligraphy: Promotion is a definite struggle, and one I commonly see other small publishers lamenting. It’s easier than ever to share your work with the world, which is incredible from an evolutionary standpoint. It just makes standing out even more difficult, a problem I’m sure will increase exponentially in the future.
Unsolicited Press: What we are seeing is the effects of vanity publishing. Authors submit and when we talk contracts, they want to know how much to pay. They also want to know when they can provide their cover art. They want to decide everything down to the size of the font. These are all signs that they’ve been through vanity publishing of some sort. They don’t realize that they paid a publisher and that’s why they maintained ALL creative control. It can be a shock to them to find out that publishing doesn’t work that way. When we come across these writers, we say this: everybody in the publication of a book has a role, and the writer’s role is to write, not to format the book, not to make the cover…we have layout experts and designers who complete those tasks. That’s not to say that we don’t make every step of the process a conversation because we do, but we must also remember that an author is always too close to the work to make final decisions on a book’s development.
For the future, I see this getting worse.
Damaged Goods Press: Small press poetry does not make money. It’s a labor of love for so many presses, and Damaged Goods is no exception to that. Even though poetry is on the upswing in popularity, it is still a marginalized form of craft and not taken as a seriously (publicity-wise) as fiction and nonfiction work. I don’t really see this changing anytime soon, especially since we can’t all be Andrews McMeel Publishing, the super popular press that released Rupi Kaur’s NYT Bestselling poetry books.
Prolific Press Publishing: With the advent of cheap publishing platforms like KDP and Ingram, we have found it challenging to draw a bright line between traditionally published poets and self-published poets. We’re in the publishing business, and it’s genuinely hard for us to tell the difference sometimes, particularly as platforms now allow writers to brand themselves as their own publisher by way of an ISBN imprint.
If we are having trouble navigating these new waters, others are surely having the same troubles. The question for our company is this: If someday readers no longer recognize a legitimate difference between full publishing and self-publishing, what will that mean for Prolific Press?
It’s an interesting question, particularly as it has always been, and remains today, a prestigious accomplishment to be traditionally published. This is the currency that makes professional publishing possible.
To complicate these distinctions, some presses have very misleading practices, requiring writers to pre-sell books or otherwise guarantee sales. Those are obviously vanity presses, but they blatantly lie to writers by insisting they “aren’t a vanity press, and don’t publish everyone”, and this predatory atmosphere is not only deceptive but serves to confuse writers, often derailing their chances at success later on. After all, publishing houses know the worst offenders in the publishing industry, and when those names show up in a writer’s biography, many publishers simply reject work they might otherwise have accepted because they don’t want to risk tarnishing their own image by publishing a writer who has a relationship with a vanity press.
For now, we have a challenge to ensure Prolific Press stands apart from the pack, both in quality and integrity. I think we have, do, and will continue to, but the moment any company takes their reputation for granted, mediocrity will surely set in. For our part, we work harder than we have to, provide more than we promise, and always strive for perfection. I think that we can maintain our edge if we never compromise on those values.
Sarabande Books: Funding is key. Once upon a time the Mellon Foundation and the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Fund offered sizable grants to independent nonprofit literary publishers. Some of this money went towards special projects, but there was a bit leftover for operating expenses, too. The NEA is currently the most reliable and generous granting we’ve experienced. And there have been difficult moments in the past when even that was in danger.
dancing girl press: Because everyone is running presses mostly as a labor of love, it’s hard to keep momentum and funds to keep going. A lot of presses and publications have shuttered over the years because they didn’t have the money or the person-power to sustain them. Even university-affiliated presses have funding problems, where they might have been more stable in the past. I keep seeing articles about the resurgence of poetry’s popularity and hope maybe this means good things for the community.
BlazeVox: There are many challenges we face daily, but we do it with a brave face. In poetry failure is built into the system so most of us are prepared for it to happen, and when it does, failure is found to be momentary. Success for a poet is found in a finely written book that is well designed. Everything else is out of our control. We strive for a good publicity campaign that will help the book receive reviews. We hope that readers find our books and they enjoy not only the words but also appreciate the book-shaped box in which the poems arrive. We already know that books sales in poetry are slim. That may be the largest challenge we face. Not just for our press but also for all other presses and distributors who endeavor to bring poetry to the public. It is a challenge we accept wholeheartedly. I think that this will always be a challenge to anyone who publishes poetry, be that today or one hundred years from now. But we don’t find this kind of concern troubling; it is the nature of poetry.
Redbird Chapbooks: Big picture we face the typical structural challenges – financial constraints and resource scarcity – that every organization faces.
Some of our current considerations include pricing, reliance on volunteers, and risks of plagiarism/copyright infringement.
There is a limit to what a reader will pay for a book of poetry. Costs are increasing, margins are shrinking, but at what price does a reader choose not to purchase a book? And does that price offset enough of the costs?
When Red Bird was founded, we made some conscious decisions around accessibility and author compensation. We didn’t want reading fees to be a barrier preventing authors from having their collections considered. The founding members were finishing up our MFAs together and all of us knew how quickly those fees added up in any given year. We also thought that chapbooks should be affordable so that audiences would be encouraged to purchase an author’s work. And we thought that authors should receive payment when their books sold. All of these became variables which play in to our pricing and our ability to sustain our operations.
We have some amazing volunteers and I am so grateful for all that they do with Red Bird. There are hundreds of hours of work that go in to each title. We do what we can to share the responsibilities across a large group. That said, each and every one of us have other obligations vying for our time. Sometimes people need to step away, to pursue other things. An unexpected illness, the birth of a child, a major deadline at work – all of these things can take unexpected precedence and as a press we need to be able to react and to keep projects moving to honor our commitments. It requires strong communication between our team and our authors. And it requires flexibility.
Copyright infringement and plagiarism is another challenge in the industry right now. I’ve seen a lot of conversations online lately about a recent instance where a poet used several lines from other poets throughout a collection. The ethical and legal ramifications of copyright violations can be significant.
Litmus Press: Funding. Especially consistent government funding, which is always under threat.
Dusie Poetics: I find a lot of what is often considered ‘hot’ is sometimes a click or bandwagon. I would like the academy to have a more radically inclusive attitude. Must we all write a pained narrative? There is surely room for other forms that precede the page whether in tone, style or form—there is surely a place where the publish-ability on the account of a poet gives freedom for true experiment to occur (whether that is for success or failure—it is the process of which that can be most exciting).
rinky dink press: Poetry is as much an industry of “performance” as it is “page,” so that’s something that we’re always trying to broach, and by broach I mean bridge. Phoenix may not have the most well-integrated poetry community in the country, but I’ve straddled the community/university line since the late 90s, and though I consider myself more community than university, we need poets who are willing to share the stage and the page, acknowledge their strengths and differences and bring all of those strengths to the table in order to grow the audience of readers and listeners. Poets have to be outside and inside, in the suburbs and in the heart of the city. We have to make poetry part of the vernacular in our communities again.
If you liked this interview series, then you may also like Natalie Gasper’s other series on literary agents answering your burning questions.
Stay tuned for part three, which talks about the future of publishing poetry.
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.