Small Press Points: BatCat Press

From the September/October 2018 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

“In the beginning BatCat was truly an experiment,” says Deanna Baringer, the managing editor and supervising teacher of BatCat Press. “I didn’t know if high school kids would be capable of, let alone interested in, publishing and bookmaking.” Nearly ten years later BatCat is no longer an experiment but a full-fledged indie press run by a group of about ten students at Lincoln Park Performing Arts Charter School in Midland, Pennsylvania. The students do all the editing, printing, and binding by hand and publish two or three books per year, mostly poetry with some fiction and nonfiction titles, by debut and established writers alike. In June the press released Dustin Nightingale’s poetry chapbook, Ghost Woodpecker—which Baringer calls a “terse but punchy collection”—that was printed entirely via a handset letterpress, and Jessica Poli’s poetry collection Canyons. “The poems are quirky little lines that stick with you and make you think,” says Alexa Bocek, a BatCat editor from the class of 2019. The students work together to select the final manuscripts, a process they approach with great care. “Not only does it come down to whether or not the piece is good, but a lot of it is also whether it works for our audience and if there are aspects we can draw from to create design elements,” says Sarah Bett, who graduated in the spring. “Going through hundreds of manuscripts, it could become easy to just skim them and quickly decide that you didn’t like it. I had to grow more patient and able to look at each piece through a new perspective.” BatCat is open to submissions of full-length and chapbook-length manuscripts in any genre year-round via Submittable, though the editors read mostly in the fall. There is no age minimum to submit.