Noel King: What role do you think the small press plays in relation to the overall culture of book publishing?
Russell Chatham: My view of things, and it’s promoted by being physically distant from any publishing centres, derives from the fact that I was discouraged by experiences I had with larger publishers. As time has passed it seems they have taken less and less interest in what you might call serious books, or literary books, and look primarily toward large-profit items. And I suppose you can’t blame them: this is the world they live in and that seems to be what’s happening. That’s a discouraging situation for a lot of writers. When I started Clark City Press, it was always going to be a very small press; we could only think of publishing five to eight books a year. This was a lot for us but not much relative to the possibilities out there. And one of the things that was an eye-opener for me was how many manuscripts came unsolicited to us; hundreds, if not thousands, many of which were eminently publishable. What that showed me was how many serious writers had nowhere to turn, they were scratching at every possible opportunity to get their work published. And then you realise that the larger, traditional publishing houses aren’t picking up on these works. According to the sources I have, those companies no longer even have readers. Twenty years ago a person could say, “send a manuscript in to Doubleday” and somebody would sit down and read it and if it was good, they might even consider publishing it. That doesn’t exist any more. So, particularly for younger people or people just starting out, it’s a very discouraging landscape to view.
Teresa Carmody, Mario Macias, Emma Williams & Chris Hershey-Van Horn read Myriam Moscona’s Negro marfil/ Ivory Black (trans. by Jen Hofer) at Les Figues Press. Image via Wave Books Summer Reading Project.
Though the fall semester looms and summer poetry staycations near their ends, the Jacket2 mail bin remains full of the latest publications from international presses. The list below highlights our most recent aquisitions. Reviewers: email email@example.com to get involved in reviewing for Jacket2.
It's the truth. Summer in the Jacket2 office is not a vacation. Because I'm still here, and not there (on the beach or looking at the beach). So, I'm calling this what it is: a poetry staycation, where the poems come to me and they come from places I would like to travel to.
& it has been an amazing staycation so far: with books coming in over the past few weeks from locales including Toronto, Manchester, Brooklyn, Seattle, and Minneapolis.
These poetry books are the many guided tours of the wonderful world of poetics. They are tourist-adored maps of famous people's houses. They are waiting in line to get through airport security to not miss their connecting flight. And they are stopping at a rest stop for rest.
1. a vast electrical disturbance 2. a cut-up of student examination papers 3. tremendously funny 4. spanking new/old stuff just out & need-to-get 5. a work that travels at the velocity of glacial drift 6. more complex hygronomy from the author of A Kind of Waffle
When, in the obscure depths and glib surfaces of John Ashbery’s poetry, philosophy paints its gloomy picture of the present world, we see that a form of life has grown old. It cannot be rejuvenated, but only understood. Only when dusk starts to fall does the owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly... these words came to me in
1. the street 2. the form of gray tiles arranged as a rebus in a dream 3. a seizure of earnest talk with a young girl 4. a book 5. the spur of a moment of surprising apprehension 6. a fit of impatience after reading 100 Multiple-Choice Questions
We are pleased to publish Bill Lavender’s response to Jacquilyn Weeks’s review, “Taking the concept of meaning-making by storm,” which we published on June 24, 2011:
There is a lot to argue with in this review. It’s weird how it approaches the real weaknesses of the poem and even analyzes individual points quite succinctly and yet, in the end, embraces the very banality it accuses the poem of. In a review that counts the number of personal pronouns in the text, the final judgement boils down to “I didn’t like Cyclones.”