An interview with Noemi Press

If you've heard of Noemi Press, you're in good company! They answered my questions eagerly, and here are the details. If you're so inclined, after reading this, you can find their books online at http://www.noemipress.org. Read on to find out more!

a. How did Noemi get its start, and who was behind it?

From what I understand, Noemi was birthed in 2002 in the New Mexican desert, from necessity and inspiration. Carmen Giménez-Smith and Evan Lavender-Smith are our founders, with a generous & exciting board behind them.

b. What is your opinion about the avant-garde, and do you think it's an outdated concept?

Avant garde and experimental writing seem to be moving targets as we constantly push each other and innovate what writing not only is, but what it can be. I feel like avant garde is different from experimental because it asks what and who it should be as well. The phrase avant garde has fallen out of conversation a bit in favor of experimental, which may be in part because everyone thinks of the Frankfurt school and it has its own historical contextualization. But to turn to the word "experimental" instead seems to try to focus solely on the stylistic & formal plays at work, an attempt to depoliticize writing. However, writing cannot be depoliticized. Richard Dyer posits that declaring the death of the author is a privileged position, and I agree. Who writes what they write and how is important. When I think of authors like Douglas Kearney, the writing style is innovative but so is message, the idea and the voice. He creates writing that can't be and won't be ignored. He moves beyond form and becomes an agent of radical social change simply by prioritizing his particular voice, language, and message.

c. What do you look for in books you publish or hope to publish?

We look to be shaken. We look to be excited, to be pushed, and to experience. We are looking for diverse voices. We want to find new entry points into the world at large and writing specifically. We are looking for books that create questions and maybe don't answer them all. We are also very proud of initiatives like Infidels, which interrogates writing theoretics and Akrilica, which is in partnership with Letras Latinas and seeks to publish important Latin writing.

d. Who are some of your favorite writers?

We are so lucky to have so many dreamy authors in our catalog, but we are always thrilled to see books by Bhanu Kapil, Morgan Parker, Christopher Soto (Loma), Elizabeth Acevedo, Jason Koo, Joyelle McSweeney, Portia Elan, Junot Diaz, Derrick Austin, the Dark Noise Collective, Craig Santos Perez, Dolores Dorantes, Monica McClure, Azareen Van der Vliet, and many, many others.

e. Do you believe genre is a moot point in the publishing world today?

In genre, we have sub genres and sub-sub genres, and it spirals forever. It is probably more helpful for some than others, but we continue to evolve as writers and readers. I wouldn't be surprised if one day we were functioning as a reading society on less of a genre structure. We're here for it, and until then, we are happy to let writers self-identify.