Small Press Points: Negative Capability Press

In a letter to his brothers, written in 1817, poet John Keats expressed one of his most famous formulations: “At once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously—I mean Negative Capability, that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason….” For thirty-five years, the Mobile, Alabama–based Negative Capability Press (negativecapabilitypress.org) has sought to publish work that embodies this definition, beginning with its first publication, Louisiana Creole Poems (1981), translated by Calvin André Claudel. With editor in chief Sue Brannan Walker at the helm, the nonprofit publisher puts out ten to fifteen books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction each year, and recently revamped its annual literary journal, Negative Capability, whose first full-color issue, “The Body in D[ist]ress,” was released in January. (The next issue will focus on food, and will also include a special section of work by Latino artists and writers.) “We want to promote diversity and publish various works by writers throughout the world,” says Walker. Recent full-length titles include three debut poetry collections released in June: Glenda Slater’s Fooling Around With Shakespeare, Jennifer Grant’s Good Form, and Kate Angus’s So Late to the Party. Steven Teref’s poetry collection, The Foreign Object, will be released in July. The editors are currently considering manuscripts of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction; submissions, which require a seven-dollar reading fee to “help offset the ever-growing administrative costs for our independent press,” are open year-round via Submittable. The editors typically respond to submissions within three to six months.