Small Press Points: Nomadic Press

From the January/February 2023 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

Movement is the modus operandi of nonprofit publisher Nomadic Press. Geographically, philosophically, and creatively, the press aims to cross boundaries. “It’s about moving away from the idea of a focus on product to a focus on process and relationships,” says founder and executive director J. K. Fowler. Established in New York City in 2011, Nomadic is now based in Oakland and has “nodes” in Brooklyn, New York; Des Moines; Philadelphia; San Francisco; and Xalapa, Mexico, where it hosts gatherings of artists and writers, often in partnership with local cultural organizations. Fowler calls this “community weaving,” which is as much a part of Nomadic’s mission as publishing. Many of the press’s authors were already involved in the Nomadic community—by performing or sharing their work at gatherings—before being solicited by the publisher. Nomadic also accepts “invitations” to consider works of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in any language. Nomadic eschews the word submission as a disempowering term, preferring “an invitation to work together, an invitation to experience your art..., an invitation into a space most sacred,” as the press’s website puts it. While Nomadic seeks to operate outside the bounds of traditional publishing, it won mainstream attention with the September 2022 publication of James Cagney’s poetry collection Martian: The Saint of Loneliness. Winner of the 2021 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, Martian confronts racist violence and systemic corruption in lyrics by turns explosive in their expression of rage and subdued in their interiorized meditations on longing and alienation. Nomadic also publishes chapbooks, including an annual series by ten poets who develop their work as a cohort, each partnering with an existing Nomadic author who serves as a mentor and editor. “It’s a really special process,” Fowler says. Two other imprints also publish through Nomadic: Little Nomad, for “socially and environmentally conscious” children’s books, and Acentos, an extension of the online literary journal the Acentos Review, “committed to nurturing the work of emerging and established Latinx/e artists and authors.” In selecting manuscripts, Fowler says, Nomadic’s goal is to find authors whose work forges connection: “We are trying to center relationship and heart in everything we do.”

Correction: Due to incorrect information provided by Nomadic Press, an earlier version of this article referred to an annual reading period that is no longer being held.
Update: On January 30, 2023, Nomadic Press announced that it would cease publishing and all “related operations in all locations.” Nomadic’s books will be available on the publisher’s website through the end of February and through Small Press Distribution through the end of the year. “Nomadic Press was what we made it—a supportive, loving family of writers, activists, organizers, teachers, and overall engaged community members,” the press wrote in an Instagram post offering details about the closure. “The clear energies and intentions that we wove into our movements have been, are, and will continue to be.”