Small Press Points: Write Bloody Publishing

From the March/April 2023 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

Once upon a time in ancient Greece, poets were singers who delivered verse to live audiences while strumming a lyre, the small harp-like instrument from which lyric poetry derives its name. Write Bloody Publishing of Los Angeles—with freelancers and staff in Colorado and the Midwest—extends that tradition, circulating books by bards who can command the stage as well as the page. When poet Derrick C. Brown founded the press in Nashville in 2004, he “began to travel and meet like-minded troubadour poets who were destroying audiences in bars and theaters” yet lacked “beautiful, ISBN-kissed books,” he says. Brown named the press after lyrics in Bryan Adams’s 1980s hit tune “Summer of ’69,” in which the rocker describes playing his guitar until his “fingers bled.” More than 135 print titles and eighty-five e-books later, Write Bloody’s volumes can be found in bookshops from “Guam to Berlin”—and their authors have traveled similar distances. Write Bloody’s poets are expected to hit the road: “We believe authors should make a living, and a way to do that is to create broad fan bases built from heavy touring and great-looking books.” Open to submissions of manuscripts with a $10 reading fee from March 1 to April 17, the press intends to publish two to six full-length collections; selected poets must conduct at least twenty readings during the first year of the book’s release. Boasting a diverse catalogue, Write Bloody has published celebrated authors—including debut poetry collections by Clint Smith (Counting Descent, 2016) and Franny Choi (Floating, Brilliant Gone, 2014)—and emerging voices, such as Kimberly Nguyen, whose 2022 collection, Here I Am Burn Me, “confronts intergenerational trauma, a broken family, and her own heartbreak head-on.” The press’s editors are looking for “a gut punch,” says Brown. “We love subtlety. We love nuance. And we love getting knocked on our asses by honesty.”