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The CLMP Newswire
A Biweekly E-mail News Dispatch on Independent Literary Publishing

A Project of the Council of Literary Magazines and Press (http://www.clmp.org)

WELCOME TO THE CLMP NEWSWIRE
We are pleased to bring you the third issue of The CLMP Newswire, a biweekly news dispatch on the world of literary publishing.  Los Angeles-based journalist, Leslie Schwartz, covers the literary publishing beat, reporting new and underreported news of interest to independent publishers of fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction nationwide. The CLMP Newswire is distributed free of charge to CLMP members and to non-members for $12 a year (see below for details).  Suggested news items should be sent directly to Leslie Schwartz at lschwartz@clmp.org.  All other questions, concerns and commentary should be directed to newswire@clmp.org.  We hope you enjoy this newest service from CLMP!

Peggy Randall
Executive Director
Council of Literary Magazines and Presses

Table of Contents for April 15, 2001 (Volume 1, Number 3)

AHINGA PRESS WINS GRANTS TO HELP AT-RISK YOUTH

Like most small non-profit presses, Anhinga got its start by publishing poets from a crop of homegrown writers. For Anhinga (http://www.ahinga.org), home meant Tallahassee, Florida, the native habitat of the bizarre anhinga bird that dries it wings by remaining outstretched and motionless for hours at a time.

For the next decade, Anhinga kept its publishing aim focused on the region's poets. But in the early eighties that changed when Anhinga published its first full-length volume of poems by Michael Mott, whose national standing marked the start of a new vision.

Now, according to Anhinga's director, poet Rick Campbell, two-thirds of the poets it publishes are of national stature. With the establishment of the Anhinga Poetry Prize, the press had completed its cycle of outreach to the national poetry community. Or so it thought.

Simultaneous to the growth of the press, Joann Gardner, a poet and professor at Florida State University, and a member of Anhinga's board, was asked to teach a poetry workshop called Runaway with Words for at-risk youth (http://www.floridanetwork.org/words.htm).  The experience changed the way she thought of poetry. "Everyone assumes that these kids are working from a much worse place than the rest of the world," says Gardner. "But it's just poetry with a different set of values."

Shortly afterward, Gardner wrote "Runaway with Words: A Short Course on Poetry and How to Take it With You," a workbook designed to teach young writers how to write poetry. She then compiled a collection of poetry from the youth workshops she taught and began to look for a publisher. "The most likely choices of presses to publish it didn't want to take the risk," says Gardner. "Then Rick said, `we'll publish it,' and I had to laugh because up till then it never occurred to any of us that we should work together."

For Gardner, the choice to collaborate was rooted in the press's original mission to support its own poets, a community component that had admittedly lapsed since the press expanded its mission. With the publication of the workbook and the poetry anthology, Gardner and Campbell saw their partnership as a chance to step back into a pair of old boots. One more time, Anhinga's focus changed, becoming a poetry press of national prominence that also took on a community-minded commitment to support at-risk youth.

This year, Anhinga received two grants, one from the NEA and another from the Witter Bynner Foundation in New Mexico, to create Runaway with Words poetry workshops in three states - Florida, Utah and Oregon. "Joann came to us for help and we became a fiscal agent for her," says Campbell.

Campbell sees the financial support as having two benefits. The first, he admits, is not altogether altruistic. "Any exposure helps the press," says Campbell, acknowledging that the grant increases Anhinga's base income, and the workshops give its books a marketing forum and thus a chance to make sales.

But Campbell also believes that poetry can serve a larger social function. "I'd like to think that Anhinga Press can publish good poetry and contribute to society," says Campbell. Gardner agrees, but her spin on the partnership with Anhinga is a bit different. "It gives the press the resources to publish more established poets. But, if you think about it, through this program it's the at-risk youths who are really supporting the national poets," says Gardner.

GRAYWOLF SINKS ITS TEETH INTO ACADEMIA

For more than 25 years, Graywolf Press (http://www.graywolfpress.org) has kept ahead of the pack by publishing sixteen books a year and maintaining a sizeable backlist of over one hundred titles.  But as an independent not-for-profit press that relies primarily on arts grants to stay alive, Graywolf Press is always looking for ways to avoid the endangered species list. "We couldn't survive on sales alone," says Marketing Director Janna Rademacher who recognized that one of the press's strongest markets was academia.

The St. Paul, MN-based press has always had an active backlist, and though it doesn't publish technically academic titles, the diversity of its list, according to Rademacher, has strongly appealed to the academic community. This appeal began back in 1988 when the press published what became a popular book for professors just beginning to explore the controversial topic of multiculturalism.

The book, Graywolf Annual #5: Multicultural Literacy, Opening the American Mind unchained more than just minds. It flung the press's doors wide open to the academic community. Even now, it remains a mainstay of the academic diet, garnering enough orders each year to keep it in print. The book's success prompted more and more professors nationwide to mine Graywolf's backlist of contemporary poetry and literary criticism to use as texts in their classrooms. But Rademacher realized that in order to keep sales active, there had to be a push toward a broader academic audience.

So after the press created its website, with the help of a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Rademacher saw her chance to grow one of the press's bread and butter customers through the use of new technology. As Graywolf became more web savvy, the question was how to ride the online wave with a short board. Limited funds and novice experience communicating through the technology grapevine were challenges for the press and, in particular, for Rademacher whose techno-skills were admittedly weak.

Nevertheless, Rademacher forged ahead, creating Online Academy in 1996. Using traditional snail mail mass marketing, Rademacher sent a brochure announcing the launch of its new academic online outreach program to 30,000 professors throughout the country. The concept was simple. Professors were invited to browse through the newly created Online Academy Resource Center on the press's website to view its most popular academic titles, look at corresponding tables of contents and read selected excerpts.

Professors could also purchase an "examination copy" at a reduced price to determine whether the book matched their teaching needs. Also after logging on and answering questions that would help further Graywolf's marketing aims, professors would then be entitled to receive a free book. Finally, in exchange for allowing Graywolf to publish and share a syllabus from a customer's classroom that features a Graywolf title, participating instructors are sent a free book from the catalog.

The program, according to Rademacher, has taken some time to catch on but the Graywolf database of prospective academic institutions and professors continues to grow.  Since the inception of Online Academy, the sale of books to the academic community has grown from 10 percent of overall sales to 15 percent.  "We're holding steady," says Rademacher, "and we're building a loyal readership while maintaining a strong source of revenue for the press."

KIDDIE BOOK SURPRISE HIT FOR WOMEN'S LIST MAG KALLIOPE

What do rock star Sting, actor Jamie Lee Curtis and conservative family values pundit "Dr. Laura" have in common with Kalliope (http://www.fccj.org/kalliope/kalliope.htm), a 23-year old journal of women's literature and art?

It's definitely not Kalliope's award-winning fiction and poetry. Nor is it Kalliope's distinction for being one of the longest running women's literary journals in the country (Oregon's Calyx was established two years earlier in 1976). And there's certainly no similarity between the three celebrities and Kalliope's never-ending battle to stay afloat in eternally lean times.

No, what these three disparate celebrities and this one small literary magazine have in common is that they have all published children's books.

"People are calling from all over the country because they want a copy of the Gwendolyn Brooks poem in the book," says a surprised-sounding Mary Sue Koeppel, Kalliope's long-time editor, about the children's book Lollipops, Lizards and Literature.

Koeppel should be surprised. For starters, Kalliope is known for publishing high-caliber literary writing by, for and about women, and for its hackles-raising tenth and twentieth anniversary men's edition.  Not for producing cutesy kids books.

As an award-winning literary journal dedicated to publishing women's voices and art, Kalliope has tried to maintain its editorial reputation by supporting young up-and-coming writers while also featuring writers of major national and international merit like Margaret Atwood, Joy Harjo and Maxine Kumin.

"The last 23 years of the journal's existence," says Koeppel, "have been spent carrying out the publication's mission to celebrate women in the arts by publishing their work and by providing a forum for their ideas and opinions." That's why the buzz about Lollipops, Lizards and Literature has Koeppel and others at the journal pleasantly amused. But, says Koeppel, it makes sense.

"People love the simple beauty of Brooks' poem,' says Koeppel, adding that the success of the book is not an indication that the magazine has any ambition to turn itself into a full blown literary press. "It was more of a way to address concerns with literacy in the community," says Koeppel. "Especially disadvantaged children."

So Koeppel put her editing hat on but in a different environment, at first inviting high school students to contribute to an anthology of literature geared for kids. The result was the highly regarded New Lit on the Block. The book's success spurred Koeppel on. With the help of private donations, including a grant from award-winning poet Joy Harjo, Koeppel edited Lollipops, Lizards and Literature. The ring-bound, paper-covered anthology features poetry and artwork by children as well as poems by Brooks and Harjo.

With the financial backing of The Prudential and Centurian Press, the book is currently in its fourth printing and Kalliope gives free copies to children in local homeless shelters, the YWCA and shelters for abused women. In many ways, Koeppel says, Lollipops, Lizards and Literature is really just an extension of Kalliope's mission to support women in the arts by reaching out to homeless women's shelters and providing the book free of charge to the children.

IN BRIEF. . .

...Oakland-based Burning Bush Publications has just launched its first e-zine.  In Our Own Words features work generated by local creative writing classes, press-sponsored poetry contest winners and submissions.  Burning Bush, founded in 1996, describes itself as a grass roots organization that doesn't "dance to the dollar sign." Each year, the press sponsors the "People before Poetry Contest" designed to "reward a poet who inspires others to value human life and the natural world instead of values based on short-term economic advantage." The press's primary push is to publish the writing of students and emerging writers. Check them out at http://www.bbbooks.com.
 
...The Georgia Review (http://www.uga.edu/~garev/index.html) has announced that poet, fiction writer and literary critic Terry R. Hummer will be the next editor of the magazine, succeeding the 25-year tenure of Stanley W. Lindberg who died in January, 2000. Hummer has twice won the Pushcart Prize for his poetry and has received both a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Past editing posts have included the editorship of the Kenyon Review from 1984 to1989 and, following that, the editorship of the New England Review until 1993. He was also the poetry editor of the Cimarron Review. His latest book of poetry Useless Virtues published by Louisiana State University Press, will be on the shelves this fall.

DON'T MISS THE NEXT ISSUE
...Stories from Palm Springs: Highlights from the AWP 2001 Conference
...Latin American Presses Speak Out on Trends, Traditions and the Future of Latin American Writing.

The CLMP Newswire
© The Council of Literary Magazines and Press.
154 Christopher Street, Suite 3C, New York, NY 10014  212-741-9110
Issues are distributed on the 1st and 15th of each month.

News reported by:  Leslie Schwartz (lschwartz@clmp.org)
Edited by:  Peggy Randall (prandall@clmp.org)

Generous funding for the 2001 editions of The CLMP Newswire has been provided by the Wallace-Reader's Digest Funds.

The CLMP Newswire is distributed free to members in good standing of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, the only national service organization serving independent publishers of literary books and magazines.  Membership information is available from CLMP's Director of Membership, Brenna McLaughlin, at bmclaughlin@clmp.org.

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