Small Press Points: BkMk Press

From the May/June 2019 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

In the hardscrabble world of small presses, a ten-year anniversary is a major achievement, so BkMk Press, which is approaching its fiftieth, has much to celebrate. Founded in 1971 as an outlet for Midwestern writers, the press first published poetry chapbooks out of a local branch of the Johnson County Library in Kansas. Today BkMk’s office is located at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, where editor in chief Robert Stewart also oversees the press’s affiliated magazine, New Letters, and the radio show New Letters on the Air. BkMk annually releases about six full-length collections of poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction; it has published more than eighty titles by local, national, and international writers. “Book publishing continues to be dominated by the East Coast, but BkMk gives Missouri and the Midwest a seat at the publishing table,” says managing editor Ben Furnish. In July BkMk will publish Lorraine M. López’s story collection Postcards From the Gerund State, and in the fall it will release Beverly Burch’s poetry collection Latter Days of Eve and Jennifer Wisner Kelly’s story collection, Stone Skimmers. In honor of BkMk’s origins as a chapbook publisher, the editors plan to launch a chapbook competition in 2020. The press currently hosts two other annual contests: the John Ciardi Prize and the G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize, given for a poetry collection and a story collection, respectively. Both competitions open on June 1 and include a $1,000 prize and publication. General submissions are open via Submittable and postal mail until June 30.