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Small Press Points

Building on the reputation of Other Voices, the all-fiction magazine founded in 1984 in Chicago, editors Gina Frangello and JoAnne Ruvoli launched Other Voices Books (www.othervoicesmagazine.org) with the release of Tod Goldberg’s short story collection, Simplify, last month. Published by the nonprofit Other Voices, Inc., in collaboration with the University of Illinois Press, Other Voices Books aims “to keep the short story form vital in today’s competitive and increasingly commercial marketplace, where short fiction has been largely marginalized by corporate conglomerate publishers.” The press is off to a good start with its debut title, which received prepublication blurbs from Pam Houston, Aimee Bender, and Dan Chaon—all previous contributors to Other Voices. And Goldberg’s past success won’t hurt either: His novel Living Dead Girl, published by Soho Press (www.sohopress.com) in 2002, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Paris Press (www.parispress.org) recently celebrated ten years of book publishing with a tribute to the late Muriel Rukeyser at the St. Mark’s Poetry Project in New York City. The event featured Hortense Calisher, Elizabeth Lorde-Rollins, Martin Moran, Eileen Myles, Marie Ponsot, and Eleanor Wilner reading from The Life of Poetry, a collection of talks Rukeyser gave during the 1940s, originally published in 1968 and reprinted by Paris Press in 1996. Dedicated to the work of women writers “who have been neglected or misrepresented by the mainstream literary world,” the nonprofit press, based in Ashfield, Massachusetts, publishes two to three books annually. Its backlist includes Autumn Sequence by Jan Freeman, On Being Ill by Virginia Woolf, Solitude of Self by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Ruth Stone’s Ordinary Words, the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 1999.

More anniversary news: Curbstone Press (www.curbstone.org) celebrated three decades of book publishing with a “fundraising fiesta” at Eastern Connecticut State University in September. Founded in 1975 by Judith Ayer Doyle and Alexander Taylor in Willimantic, Connecticut, Curbstone Press annually publishes eight to ten books of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and works in translation. Released in print runs ranging from 750 to 7,500, the books are distributed by Consortium. But Curbstone is focused on more than publishing books. In addition to arranging reading tours for its authors, the press has developed partnerships with schools and arts organizations in its home state. In 1996 Curbstone partnered with public schools in Windham, Connecticut, to launch the Windham Area Poetry Project, to bring writers into schools, social service agencies, prisons, senior facilities, and other sites to conduct poetry workshops and discussions with local residents.

Readers who still consider the chapbook an illegitimate (and less attractive) cousin of the mass-produced trade hardcover could spend a little less time in the chain bookstores and a little more time perusing the beautifully crafted titles from Limberlost Press (www.limberlostpress.com), Aralia Press (www.wcupa.edu/_academics/sch_cas/aralia), Ugly Ducking Presse (www.uglyducklingpresse.org), and other independent publishers who specialize in such small—but not unimportant—books. A recent example is The Window Ordered to Be Made, a chapbook by Brian Kim Stefans, published in an edition of three hundred copies by A Rest Press in New York City. Stefans is the author of three other small press titles, including Fashionable Noise, published by Atelos (www.atelos.org). The Window Ordered to Be Made is the latest in a series of A Rest Press chapbooks by poets who have participated in a reading series at the Bowery Poetry Club, sponsored by the Segue Foundation, a nonprofit arts organization in New York. Editors Patrick Masterson and Ryan Murphy, who is the awards coordinator at the Academy of American Poets, say that paper and printing costs for each chapbook run to approximately five hundred dollars. “We make these books because we find this poetry important and because we love the process of making them.” And there’s nothing small about that.

Kevin Larimer is the senior editor of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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Small Press Points (November/December 2005)
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