The 2024 Lord Nose Award Citation and Acceptance Speech


On June 27, 2024, CLMP held the annual Firecracker Awards Ceremony to celebrate the finalists, announce the winners, and honor the recipient of the 2024 Lord Nose Award​, Jim Perlman, founding editor and publisher of Holy Cow! Press. The Lord Nose Award is given to a publisher or editor in recognition of a lifetime of work in literary publishing to honor and celebrate the memory of Jonathan Williams, founder and publisher of the now legendary literary press, The Jargon Society. The Lord Nose Award was established in 2017 by David Wilk, with support from Jeffery Beam, Stanley Finch, and Tom Meyer. David Wilk presented Perlman with the award during the ceremony, and the following transcript includes David Wilk’s citation, followed by Jim Perlman’s remarks.


David Wilk:

This is the eighth Lord Nose Award, which was established in 2017 to commemorate and honor Jonathan Williams and his pioneering literary press, the Jargon Society.  

With this award we celebrate and recognize the importance of a lifelong commitment to literary publishing. CLMP has been an incredible sponsor and partner for all these years, and we are pleased to be recognizing another amazing, long-running independent publisher today.

Jonathan Williams was the founder, editor, and publisher of the Jargon Society. He was a poet, essayist, photographer, raconteur, and cultural observer whose wit was legendary. He dedicated much of his time and energy finding and engaging with an array of unique cultural characters, including poets, photographers, and some extraordinary folk artists and difficult-to-categorize creators, whose work he published and generously promoted for more than fifty years.

Beginning in 1951 at Black Mountain College, and continuing wherever Jonathan traveled and lived, Jargon published 85 books and over 30 broadsides and ephemera, all of which expressed Jonathan’s enthusiasm for extraordinary creative work, that he felt needed to be nurtured and shared, no matter the challenges of time, money, and distribution he encountered. His commitment to making beautiful, important books never wavered.  

Jargon’s publishing expressed Jonathan’s lifelong dedication to words and art, to discovery, beauty, and the joyfully social act of making public the work he believed in. 

I would like to recognize Jeffery Beam and Stanley Finch for helping launch this award, as well as Tom Meyer, Jonathan’s life partner, and CLMP for giving this project a home.

It is now my honor and privilege to give the 2024 Lord Nose award to Duluth, Minnesota’s Holy Cow! Press and its founder, Jim Perlman.

Like Jonathan, Jim is both a poet as well as a publisher. Holy Cow! Press has been publishing books steadily for 47 years and counting. That is an incredible accomplishment for any publisher, much less one that is committed to literary work—poetry, short fiction, novels, biographies, memoirs, and anthologies. Almost ten years ago, AWP recognized Holy Cow!, saying “This small press has provided an essential bridge for Russian, Jewish, Swedish, Indian, and American voices; for rural and urban trendsetters; for grieving, divorced, aging, little-known, or silenced; for cultural continuance; for guiding writers-to-come. Holy Cow! Press engages reading, writing, and youthful audiences in the power of art.” 

Congratulations to Jim Perlman and Holy Cow!—you exemplify what the Lord Nose Award is meant to recognize—a lifetime commitment to literary publishing, a willingness to break new ground, take chances, and stand up for overlooked voices.

Literary presses are mostly ephemeral. Much like poets and writers, their presses take form and substance through dedication and effort that is transformative, but so often transitory. Many literary presses have produced one or several great books each, but there are only a few that are able to operate for decades and still continue to produce great work. Those that last do so out of a powerful need, a commitment that expresses the ongoing love and attention of their founders. Literary publishers exist in a constant struggle for support and attention in a busy world, and their effort to survive and thrive is always existential.

This year, with the unexpected demise of Small Press Distribution (SPD), that reality has been highlighted most unhappily. With the support of Holy Cow!, this year’s award is being directed by CLMP to provide assistance to the many small literary publishers who lost money, books, and time because of this catastrophic event. We’re encouraging any and all of you who care about independent literary voices to make a contribution as well—in any amount—to support CLMP in its mission. This year especially, CLMP has gone above and beyond to help presses impacted by the abrupt closure of SPD. Your help is always appreciated. To donate, visit www.clmp.org/donate or checks may be sent to CLMP, 154 Christopher Street, 3C, New York, NY 10014.

I am certain that Jonathan Williams, Lord Nose himself, would have enthusiastically joined us in honoring Jim Perlman’s lifetime of publishing great books that truly matter. 

Thank you!

David Wilk

June 27, 2024

 


Jim Perlman:

Thank you, David, and the CLMP for this unexpected recognition. I am deeply grateful and humbled by your award. It’s an honor to be in the company of Bobby and Lee Byrd, Charles Alexander, and the others.

Looking back over these past many years, it seems fitting to acknowledge the many people and those projects that have been instrumental in my life as a small-press editor and publisher.

In my tenth grade Minneapolis high school English classes, Art Froehle and Sara Sexton inspired me to write poetry. I read “A Coney Island of the Mind”—and recall Ferlinghetti’s words “Constantly risking absurdity…” perhaps the lifelong credo for small-press publishers who take the risk. 

In the early ’70s, I co-edited and published the literary magazine Moons and Lion Tailes for seven issues before starting Holy Cow! Press in 1977. The press name had come to me in a dream—even now, it seems fitting for a publisher rooted in the Midwest. As Robert Bly once exclaimed “Holy Cow! Press can smell poetry coming right out of the ground!”

Our first few books were produced on a light table that my dad made out of a dresser drawer and frosted glass. In 1979, I read a thousand poems to select sixty for Brother Songs: A Male Anthology of Poetry. The following year we published Natalie Goldberg’s first book Chicken and in Love. 

I attended the University of Iowa as a graduate student where Professor Ed Folsom and our classmate Dan Campion conspired to coedit and publish what eventually became three editions of our monumental anthology Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song—on Whitman’s continuing worldwide influences. 

In 1984, we published our first Native-authored poetry collection—Star Quilt by Roberta Hill (Oneida), thus beginning a long tradition of press devotion to making available writings by First Peoples authors.

Nowadays we’re located in Duluth, Minnesota, a semi-rural northern community in the heart of flyover country, not too far from Robert Zimmerman’s birthplace and within sight of the Big Lake.

Over these past forty-seven years, I remain indebted to the many gifted authors we’ve published, to Consortium Book Sales for distributing our books, to the donors who have helped finance our projects, and to indie bookstores everywhere. 

My life partner, Deborah, has been with me every step of the way. I am grateful beyond words for her ongoing support and devotion. Yes, honey, I promise to move the boxes of books that are crowding our entryway.

Let me close by sharing Thomas McGrath’s poem from our first publication letters to tomasito:

How could I have come so far?
(And always on such dark trails?)
I must have traveled by the light
Shining from the faces of all those I have loved.

Jim Perlman

June 27, 2024