Small Press Points: Rescue Press

From the May/June 2016 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

In the descriptions of some of their titles, the editors of Rescue Press ( seem playfully resistant to pigeonholing their books into any particular style or form. Of Christian TeBordo’s hybrid text Toughlahoma they write, “Do we call this the satire we all deserve, a monstrously true fable of the late days of capitalism? Let’s call Toughlahoma a history, a scripture, a goddamn dithyramb, and a public relations campaign all in one.” And Andrea Rexilius’s book To Be Human Is to Be a Conversation is described as a combination of “memoir, essay, performance, research, poetry, and lyric meditation.” Established in 2009, Rescue Press—which is based in Chicago, Cleveland, and Iowa City—is a champion of this kind of fluidity of form. The press publishes approximately five titles of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid text each year, a body of work that founding editors Caryl Pagel and Danny Khalastchi describe as a “library of chaotic and investigative work.” “We want to share writing that pushes against traditional boundaries and writing that can be rooted firmly within them,” the editors say. “This isn’t an avoidance of stance, but a desire for transformation, fluidity, and surprise.” That said, the founders admit their aesthetic leanings toward hybridity, feminism, and the Midwest—the press was born in Milwaukee and has published many writers who hail from the region. This month Rescue releases Melissa Dickey’s second poetry collection, Dragons, and Erik Anderson’s memoir, Estranger. The sixth annual Black Box Poetry Prize, given for a full-length poetry collection, will be open for submissions during the month of June; Douglas Kearney will judge. The prize does not offer a cash award, but neither does it charge an entry fee; writers are instead invited to donate what they can. For the Rescue Press Open Prose Series, the editors consider fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid submissions during the month of January.