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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
All other questions, concerns and commentary should be directed
We hope you enjoy this newest service from CLMP!
Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
Table of Contents for April 15,
2001 (Volume 1, Number 3)
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
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,"
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
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
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
"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
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.
...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
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
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