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DIY Poetry Publishing Cooperative

April 28, 2007

Josh Corey on small press (and very small press) poetry . . .

For as long as I can remember I've been a haunter of bookstores and libraries. But I didn't begin to accumulate books in a serious way until I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1999 to begin a Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford. It was there that I developed my interest in alternative American poetry, and started buying as much of it as I could afford. What do I mean by "alternative"? Contemporary poetry isn’t on many people's radar these days; even highly literate denizens of English departments don't always know much about what's going on in poetry. The poets who do break through to something like mainstream attention—John Ashbery, Mary Oliver, Louise Glück, and Billy Collins come to mind—actually represent fairly narrow swatches of what's been possible in American poetry for the past fifty years. These are the poets published by the big publishing houses, whose books actually stand a chance of being reviewed in the New York Times Book Review. But it's actually the small and really small presses in this country which have done the most to keep something like a living tradition of poetry alive. I should say rather "traditions," because the glory of American poetry is its multiplicity, the range of its techniques and styles and preoccupations. I have tried, in building up my collection, to accumulate as broad a swathe of these alternatives as one poor graduate student can.

Do read the rest.



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