Small Press Points: Black Ocean

From the May/June 2021 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

I wanted to create a press that would bring the attention of a major publishing house to quality and design and treat poetry as a genre with frontlist potential,” says Janaka Stucky of Black Ocean, an independent press based in Boston and Chicago whose striking volumes have been captivating readers for more than fifteen years. As an emerging poet with roots in the DIY zine scene, Stucky longed to see publishers more energized about the poetry titles on their lists. Together with two friends, Stucky founded Black Ocean in 2004 to address this need. “We set out with a strong, simple visual identity and attention to detail,” he says. “I think our belief and commitment in the work, and a little luck, helped us quickly build an enthusiastic and dedicated readership.”

Today Black Ocean publishes fiction, nonfiction, and literature in translation alongside its poetry titles. Its Moon Country series “aims to widen the field of contemporary Korean poetry available in English translation, but also to challenge orientalist, neocolonial, and national literature discourses,” and an essay collection series titled Undercurrents brings a poet’s “lyric attention to language” to the form. This year Black Ocean will release three works in translation, as well as Kristina Marie Darling’s Silent Refusal: Essays on Contemporary Feminist Writing, Nathan Hoks’s poetry collection Nests in Air, and Zachary Schomburg’s Fjords, vol. II. Because of the press’s focus on new voices, “many people simply seek out ‘the next Black Ocean book,’” says Stucky. “It’s incredible that people trust us to help them discover their next favorite poetry title.” Black Ocean accepts submissions year-round via e-mail and does not charge a reading fee.