ČERVENÁ BARVA PRESS NEWSLETTER
Gloria Mindock, Editor Issue No. 40 November, 2008
Welcome to the November Newsletter.
Interviews, Raves, and book reviews will be in next months newsletter.
The press has a special feature in this newsletter called, "Editors Speak Out." The editors speak about writers not following
guidelines and some of the other taboos that drive editors/publishers insane.
We expect to be hearing from more editors. When completed, this feature will also run in the Istanbul Literary Review.
There are 16 new books by various authors added to The Lost Bookshelf.
Check out the books on the bookstore homepage at: www.thelostbookshelf.com
Cervena Barva Press announces a new poetry chapbook by Roger Sedarat
From Tehran To Texas by Roger Sedarat
Červená Barva Press, 2008
Roger Sedarat's poetry collection, Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic, won Ohio University Press's
Hollis Summers Award. His poems have also appeared in such journals as New England Review, Poet Lore, and Iranian.com.
He is the recipient of scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference as well as a St. Botolph Society poetry grant.
He teaches poetry and translation in the MFA program at Queens College, City University of New York.
Order here: http://www.thelostbookshelf.com/cervenabooks.html
New chapbooks coming out in November are by Korkut Onaran, Irene Koronas, and Robert K. Johnson, and look for new full-length books by
Lo Galluccio, CL Bledsoe, Michael Nash, and two books by Denis Emorine.
In December, look for 3 new e-books by online contest winners. As you can tell, 2008 has been a busy year for the press.
Copies of "Brothers" by Eric Wasserman and "The Book of Colors and Painters"
by Korkut Onaran will be mailed to
poetry and fiction contest entries of 2007 during this month and December.
October was such a busy month for the press but also so much fun for me.
I took part in the Chinese Poetry Conference at Simmons College organized/Chaired by Afaa Michael Weaver.
I met so many wonderful poets. With Ye Mi Mi and with Chinese translator Denis Mair, we translated a poem
by Ye Mi Mi from Chinese to English. I learned so much from Ye Mi Mi and Denis Mair. They both are so amazing.
Words could never express all that I learned from the both of them.
Other excitement, Glenn Sheldon flew here and did numerous readings from his book,
"Bird Scarer" (Cervena Barva Press, 2008).
We both read together at the Brockton Library Series and had a great time..
Denis Emorine flew in from France for the Cervena Barva Press Reading at the KGB Bar in NYC.
He read from "Letters to Saida" (Cervena Barva Press, forthcoming Nov., 2008). Roger Sedarat
celebrated his new chapbook, "From Tehran to Texas" (Cervena Barva Press, 2008). The other two
readers, Andrey Gritsman and Roberta Swann
have books forthcoming in 2009. It was a very special evening with Cervena Barva Press authors.
Cervena Barva Press Reading Series
Pierre Menard Gallery (Harvard Sq.)
10 Arrow St.
Readers: Irene Koronas, Robert K. Johnson, and Sue Owen
Reception to follow
The press will be launching new chapbooks by Irene and Robert.
The Cervena Barva Press Reading Series will begin in March of next year instead of February.
I will be away for half of February.
Most Small or Alternative Small Presses suffer from a "labor of love" mentality.
I've been operating the Lummox Press for 15 years. During that time I have dealt with hundreds of poets who have
submitted their work for publication in both a small magazine that I published for eleven years and a series of chapbooks
called the Little Red Books. I also get submissions for the same magazine which is now on line as well as an all poetry
journal which is also on line. So, I can safely say that over the past fifteen years I have read thousands of poetry
submissions. I am also in a unique position because I also write and submit poetry to other magazines, both in print
and on line. This gives me the unique opportunity to see both sides of the fence and to sympathize with the many poets
who contact me for publication.
When I was a teen, in high school, I dabbled in poetry, none of it very good. There was no place to hang out and
collaborate besides the beach, unlike today, and poetry was something that weirdos wrote; Beatniks, English professors,
old men and a few women and the like. Spoken word wasn't a genre and coffee houses were few and far between (in fact it
wasn't until years later that I realized what a thriving poetry scene existed in Los Angeles back in the 60s). I mention
this because I think that with the evolution of the computer, the Internet and coffeehouse culture, an attitude regarding
poetry and its dissemination to the masses has emerged that is, perhaps, different than it was forty years ago.
The mimeograph revolution of the sixties and seventies gave anyone with access to the machine (and the patience to run it)
an opportunity to create a chapbook/poetry mag. Distribution was limited to a small group of friends and fans. But with
diligence, you could reach beyond your city limits. But it was still very time-consuming and cost money to create. It
was a true "labor of love." I doubt that very many involved in this movement recouped their expenses (unless they had
Now we move ahead to the nineties, the affordable home computer, the fledgling Internet and the reemergence of coffeehouse
culture and the Coffeehouse Poet. The instant gratification of public readings to your pals down at the open mic began a
whole generation of readers for Gen-X, Gen Y-me and so on. And this angst-riddled poetry could then be passed along to
others via the Web or via chapbooks which could now be produced by anyone who could type (I'm a one-finger typist myself).
Suddenly one could typeset and layout chapbooks without having to rely on or wait for others. The whole operation could
be done at home by one person.
Oddly, most Coffeehouse Poets seem to be uninterested in being published. They read their poems from scraps of paper, or
typed sheets in plastic page protectors, or from the glow of their laptops. They read for the adrenalin rush that applause
brings. It's the immediacy, the now, that they live for. They are in the pure zen moment.
Eventually they either outgrow this need for external approval or they begin to study writing more seriously (workshops,
college etc). They notice that everyone it seems is writing poetry and either submitting it to print mags or Ezines or
even creating there own mags/ezines. They want to be able to say, look how good I am, I've been published. If they don't
outgrow this phase, they'll be shopping a manuscript for publication and hopefully be picking up royalty checks from their
mailbox…though this might be something that MFAs dream of more than anyone else.
My point in mentioning all this is that most of the poets I have dealt with over the years (both known and unknown) are
impatient. Not only do they expect you to accept their work unconditionally, they want you to do all the legwork to get
it out to their audience…In the world of small press poetry, the truly pure poet is a voice for the muse and isn't
concerned with such mundane tasks as the cost of production or sales or promotion (that's somebody else's job). As
long as he or she is getting the accolades of the crowd (plus a little folding green), that's enough. Unfortunately,
while the maker of the poems doesn't have to do anything else to demonstrate their genius, the maker of the book (the
vehicle by which their genius is presented to the world) has to try every conceivable method to bring the world to them.
Otherwise, what's the point?
And here in lies the rub. Publishing, whether it's on a mammoth or miniscule scale is work. Sometimes it's hard work,
sometimes not. But even if it's a part-time job, it gets old fast when you're not getting compensated for your time.
It doesn't have to be money; there are lots of other ways to be compensated. Granted, money talks loud and clear, but
it also comes and goes mighty fast. The other forms of compensation that last are things like friendship and respect.
To be successful in an operation like the Lummox Press, in other words, to keep the flame alive, one has to develop a
partnership with those you are publishing. This is probably also true for the larger presses and publishing houses.
The writer of the poetry has to be willing to get out there and promote the book. If that doesn't happen, if they don't
take an active role in promoting their own work, then the enterprise is doomed from the get-go.
MY ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION
The first thing poets who are submitting to a magazine/ezine or small press should do is find out what the poetry is like on
the mag, ezine or press they are going to submit to. Too often they don't have a clue and just send a bunch of poems which
pisses off the editor to no end and makes it hard on the rest of the submitting crowd. Or the poet sends a link to a page of
their stuff and invites the editor to go in and "cherry pick" a submission for the poet. This is plain stupid in my book,
and unless you are some monster poet granting me an audience, it just isn't going to happen.
Once you find out what they publish, it's a good idea to make contact before submitting. This has become so easy in this
electronic age that there's just no excuse not to. The editor will appreciate it (if they don't you might want to steer
clear of them - red flag warning) and will tell you to send a few poems of such and such length. If you're serious, you'll
do as they ask; if you're not you'll do like the guy who asked me to look at his manuscript and sent the whole thing
(all 300 pages) despite the fact that I asked him to select a few examples. He couldn't understand why I didn't like that
(or his poetry, for that matter). When I explained (which was a mistake because he obviously couldn't understand a simple
request), he said I was wrong. I said it was a choice I'd have to live with. I'm sure he'll remind me of this when someone
else publishes it. It wasn't the first time and it won't be the last.
Too often poets expect to be babied. They have a hard time with rejection and conversely expect you to explain to them what
they did wrong. I have been asked on numerous occasions to edit a rejected poet's work. I have found that they leave me
alone when I suggest that they pay me for this service. Money talks, etc.
In terms of print publication, the editor/publisher has to explain to the poet that they are entering into a partnership.
The publisher will do their best to make a book (chapbook, CD or whatever) of good quality; will print an edition of X amount
of books (although POD makes this a little dicey - defining the number in that edition); and will supply the poet with help
in promoting the sales of said book. The poet, on the other hand, must understand that he/she is expected to inform any and
everyone they know about the book and how to get a copy. It's not much to expect but without an audience, there's no sales
and without sales, there's no point…unless you doing it as a labor of love or are ego-tripping. I think either of these are
guarantees for early burn-out.
Over the years, I've published a series of small books (some would call them booklets) of poetry by many poets both known
and unknown. It's surprising how many well-known poets expect a small press to do all the work. They should know better,
as they've been doing it for years. But no, they get this idea that you have a magic wand and can get their work out to the
world by just crossing your arms and blinking. And you, the publisher, end up with a bunch of books gathering dust.
These are my thoughts on your question.
Indian Bay Press
On the negative side, our primary concern and observation pertains to the majority of contributors who
fail to support their own work.
We encourage every contributor we publish to promote themselves by promoting us among friends and associates to
either buy the issue their work appears in or subscribe. We rarely see this type of support, and frankly it is
As you know, money is always an issue for the small and independent press. Without the press, poets and writers
lack a venue for their work, and consequently we give them a voice they would not otherwise have.
If presses and contributors do not support one another, then neither will be successful.
Ibbetson Street Press
Things I don't like as an editor:
People who put stickies on their poems with cats, women in flimsy under garments, smiley faces
(x####), etc... Cheapens the work for me.
People who make personal attacks on you, your magazine, etc...when their work is rejected.
People who have no idea what your magazine is about and send inappropriate submissions.
People who don't proofread their work well.
People who don't include SASE with their poems.
People who have been published many times and then are pissed off that you don't publish them once.
People who insists that if you aren't writing politically--you aren't writing.
People who "insist"
Thank you RD Armstrong, Doug Holder and Jason Mayo.
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