Small Press Points: Bitter Oleander Press

From the March/April 2022 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

Last year was a period of transition for Bitter Oleander Press, an independent publisher in Fayetteville, New York. After twenty-seven years of publication of the press’s celebrated biannual journal, the Bitter Oleander, editor and publisher Paul B. Roth sent the journal’s final issue to the printer in the fall and prepared to focus on Bitter Oleander’s books program. In this new phase the press will publish almost exclusively poetry in translation and is holding a no-fee open reading period through the end of March, expressing particular interest in manuscripts by “contemporary international poets whose work is either still unknown to an English-speaking audience or has hardly been published in translation.” It is an interest that is near and dear to Roth’s mission as a publisher, having consistently championed literature in translation through the press’s books and journal since its founding in 1974. “As an editor I’ve always wanted to present how our distinctive likenesses as humans mirror each other through the complexities of different languages,” says Roth.

The press publishes four to six books of poetry a year—typically “deep-image poetry, serious poetry, that doesn’t necessarily fall under the influence of any particular school or follow any formalized pattern of style.” Titles to be released in 2022 include a bilingual edition of Franca Mancinelli’s The Butterfly Cemetery: Selected Prose (2008–2021), translated from the Italian by John Taylor, and Andrea Moorhead’s Tracing the Distance, an English-language collection that won the 2021 Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Award. To prospective Bitter Oleander authors and translators, Roth offers an invitation: “We’d like to consider more imaginative texts from translators whose poets take chances, who open doors that have previously had no keys.”