In case you haven’t heard, April is National Poetry Month, and today, instead of highlighting the poets behind your favorite works, we’re turning to the ones who make it all possible: the publishers.
With an inundation of social media, chapbooks, and more, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of poetry that exists. That’s when we look to the publishers – the few, the brave, the mighty, who wade through lines upon lines to raise up the best and the brightest of voices. O! Those careful curators, who show us new poetry that crackles with potential and remind us of the old favorites we hold close in times of need. We are eternally grateful to the endless hours they spend examining word after word to feed our literary souls.
We reached out to a few of those helming modern poetry publishing to find out—what moves them? What are their favorite lines of poetry?
“I loved you before I was born.”
— Li-Young Lee, The Word from His Song (BOA Editions, 2016)
BOA Editions is located in Rochester, New York. Their latest book of poetry is The Black Maria by Aracelis Girmay.
Chris Fischbach, Publisher at Coffee House Press:
What kind of poem
Would you make out of that?
240,000 natives working
In the Johannesburg mines.”
— Langston Hughes, from the poem “Johannesburg Mines” (1928)
Coffee House Press is located in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their latest book of poetry is They and We Will Get Into Trouble For This by Anna Moschovakis.
Kelly Forsythe, Director of Publicity at Copper Canyon Press:
“Don’t listen to the words—
they’re only little shapes for what you’re saying,
they’re only cups if you’re thirsty, you aren’t thirsty.”
— Jean Valentine, from the poem “as with rosy steps the morn,” from Break the Glass (Copper Canyon, 2010)
Copper Canyon Press is located in Port Townsend, Washington. Their latest book of poetry is Alamo Theory by Josh Bell.
— Rodrigo Toscano, Explosion Rocks Springfield (Fence Books, May 2016)
Fence Books is located in Albany, New York. Their latest book of poetry is Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror 2 by Paul Legault.
“It’s not how far you fall, but how you land.
Are you here for the sowing, reaping, or the dead?”
— Justin Chin, from Gutted (Manic D Press, 2006)
Manic D Press is located in San Francisco, California. Their latest book of poetry is The Roots of a Thousand Embraces by Juan Felipe Hererra.
“Hell, I love everybody.”
— James Tate, from Riven Doggeries (Ecco Press, 1979)
Wave Books is located in Seattle, Washington. Their latest book of poetry is Olio by Tyehimba Jess.
There you have it, folks. The most beloved lines of poetry from the people who’ve seen it all. Thank you, publishers, for all of your time, taste, and dedication!