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Small Press Points

One of the more tantalizing fruits of the technological interconnectivity that is changing the way we think about distance and relationships is the online collaboration among musicians: A drummer in Rio de Janeiro can lay down a beat for a guitarist in San Francisco, who can strum for a vocalist in Morocco, who can lace her lyrics across a track from a keyboard player in Venice, and presto—you have a song. While the editors of the new independent poetry press Birds, LLC (www.birdsllc.com) are not imagery again. So here goes: For a small press like that far flung, their work is no less collaborative. Dan Boehl, Matt Rasmussen, Chris Tonelli, Justin Marks, and Sampson Starkweather, all connected by friendships forged within the past few years at various creative writing programs, use e-mail and Skype to join forces from their respective homes in Austin, Texas; Minneapolis; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Queens and Brooklyn, New York. Despite the physical distances that separate them, the editors say an integral part of their mission is to build close relationships with their authors. "These days it's like your book gets accepted or you win a contest, then that's it," says Marks. "You turn in your manuscript and off to the printer it goes without anyone at the press giving you any critical feedback or sharing any ideas that might help make the book stronger. Most poets we know are relying on their friends for that feedback, and that's great, but wouldn't it be great too to have an actual editor, someone at the press who builds a deep relationship with you...and your work? I think it's something all writers crave, and we want to provide that for the poets we publish." So far the press has released two poetry collections, Elisa Gabbert's The French Exit and Tonelli's The Trees Around—both available through Small Press Distribution and Amazon—and two more are scheduled for publication early next year. The editors aren't currently accepting submissions, but they welcome queries (editor@birdsllc.com) from poets who think they have a book that would be right for the fledgling operation.

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Small Press Points (September/October 2010)
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