Friday, September 12, 2008

Press Published First Book

Well, it's done. The first official title from my non-profit press, C&R Press, is out. It's Michelle Bitting's GOOD FRIDAY KISS. The press started nearly two years ago, and the journey has been eventful, to say the least. But we've hit our stride now, and have our first poetry anthology coming out within a month(BREATHE: 101 CONTEMPORARY ODES), soon to be followed by Stacey Lynn Brown's CRADLE SONG and Jon Veinberg's THE SPEED LIMIT OF CLOUDS. Did I mention that all of these will be out within the next six months? We got to the point where it was either surrender to the ongoing hiccups in starting up a press or tough it out through the problems and actually start publishing. You can see which we decided. (PS--It's the right choice).

The reason I'm writing about this all here is not to brag that I've helped create a new poetry book for the world (well, maybe a little), but to talk about the process of editing someone else's literary baby. Having honed my editorial skills over the past fifteen years at a half-dozen lit mags and a number of different university positions, I felt quite capable of the task. But like most things worth doing, it was a heck of a lot harder than I ever imagined. Knowing how short-sighted editors in the past often unjustly railed about word choice, imagery, and line breaks in my own work, I didn't want to become That Editor. You know--the one you want to chuck off the Empire State Building, only you don't because their incredible thick head would probably take out a bus at ground level.

What I finally did was go through it a couple of times, line by line, making notes on a Word document. When I was done, I went through and came up with the most pertinent pages of comments I had. Some were tough. Some were hair-splitting. Some were just plain grammar issues. A few were tough to classify--call it "listening to my own ear." But here's the part I love. Bitting was gracious and thankful and happy for the comments which I worried might make her hate me forever. That's what C&R was based on--being an author-friendly house where we're all on the same team. I'm incredibly happy that Tom Lux picked GOOD FRIDAY KISS to be our first De Novo winner because Bitting is our type of writer--someone who cares as much about a quality contribution to the world of literature as we do. And we thank her for it

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