Small Press Points: Airlie Press

From the July/August 2024 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

Seventeen years ago a group of poets decided they wanted to support poetry from the Pacific Northwest using the model of a publishing collective, forging a strong community in which the members were bound to one another’s success. Together they founded Airlie Press, a nonprofit publisher guided by an editorial board of six member-poets from the region surrounding its home base in Portland, Oregon. Each member serves a three-year term during which Airlie publishes their poetry collection, and that person contributes to the collective as an editor. New members are chosen through the press’s annual no-fee reading period for poets from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Of the manuscripts read during that period, open this year during the month of July, Airlie selects two for publication. After an interview with the board to ensure compatibility, the selected poets begin their three-year memberships, filling the spots of two outgoing members who have reached the end of their terms. For selected poets from underrepresented communities or who demonstrate financial need, Airlie offers stipends to compensate them for their work.

This unique publishing model has been a boon to Airlie’s creative output, says Daneen Bergland, a current editorial board member. “Because our editorial board is constantly changing, our catalogue has been, and continues to become, more eclectic and diverse.” Bergland’s poetry collection, The Goodbye Kit, which she describes as “lyrical, a little dark and strange,” is forthcoming later this year from Airlie. A Rupture in the Interiors by Valerie Witte, released by Airlie last year, “is more experimental, borrowing and layering multiple texts,” Bergland says. In addition to the two volumes published through the open reading period, Airlie also publishes one book a year through its annual Airlie Prize, which is open to submissions from poets nationwide from January 1 to March 1. The press, which had been distributing its books through the now-defunct Small Press Distribution, is currently fulfilling orders via its website.