Small Press Points: April Gloaming

From the January/February 2024 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

The Nashville-based independent press April Gloaming is on a mission to strengthen the American South’s reputation as a home for great literature and art. The press publishes books of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction that “paint a picture of what we call a New South, one which is inclusive, open, and respectful of all identities,” say editor in chief Lance Ümmenhofer and creative director Robyn Leigh Lear. Founded in 2015, April Gloaming received its nonprofit status in 2020 and now publishes nine books a year, including novels and novellas, story collections, full-length poetry collections and chapbooks, and memoirs. The press also publishes Waxing & Waning, a print and online literary journal. Staff members evaluate book submissions in all genres year-round, charging a $5 reading fee. Representative titles include Chiatulah Ameke’s Black Lives Rising (2021), a flash-fiction collection with an “Afro-Futurist and surreal bent”; David van den Berg’s Love Letters From an Arsonist (2023), a poetry collection “that finds the music between the sodden grit of a Southern childhood”; and Ben Raterman’s Speak to Me, a novel about “digging into the South’s hidden past,” forthcoming in March.

April Gloaming seeks to support Southern creative workers of all stripes, and the press partners with fifteen part-time staff members and other contracted editors, readers, and designers from the region to produce aesthetically pleasing books. “We curate the visual artist based on the manuscript’s mood,” Lear and Ümmenhofer say of their approach to book-cover design. The press’s poetry editor, Emma Cardiel, commemorates each new title by baking a treat inspired by its themes; videos of her culinary process and photos of her confections with the corresponding book are posted on social media. “Pushing perceived limitations in medium and genre is inherent to who we are as a press,” say Lear and Ümmenhofer.