The Power of Small Presses

Screenshot of Black Ocean website ©Black Ocean

I think it’s cool to be learning about small press publishing companies because when I think of the word publishing, I tend to associate it with companies like Flatiron, HarperCollins, or Macmillian. I feel like small presses tend to be overlooked due to the number of books that are being pumped out by these bigger companies; it’s sad because smaller publishers produce such great work written by amazing authors. After reading several articles, I found that most of the presses were created simply out of the desire to do so, or they wanted to see certain types of writing published: “In many ways the most important push for us was realizing that no U.S. press was daring enough to publish my translations of Aase Berg, a major young Swedish woman poet who was writing these wild poems unlike anything that was being published in the U.S.” (Göransson). Johannes Göransson of Action books wanted to publish something very unique and the only way he could do that was by starting his press with Joyelle McSweeney to release the material he wanted to.

For many, it is a passion to deliver poetry to those who love to read and listen to it: “Janaka and I have always believed there was a hungry audience for poetry—even if they didn’t know what they were hungry for yet. And we’ve also believed that there is a larger audience for poetry than just poets alone, and we have been determined to find it…” (Adams). Community and poetry seem to go hand in hand most times, I feel like poetry has a large audience that all appreciate poetry: “In the lovely, beautiful world of poetry, community is ideal…Community has both an economic value and a social value…Community is often the most that we have. Community is a feeling. And I like to feel” (Carmody).

Although I am not a huge fan of poetry (as of right now) when I do read poetry or I am around others who love poetry, the dynamic feels so different, it feels like a family of people who are all coming together for the same purpose. The landscape of literature is huge, bigger than most of us think and it makes me wonder how much small presses can shine through it all. From the articles, the founders of these presses seem so passionate and driven to provide work that is exceptional and most times, writing most of us has never seen. There is something so intimate about small presses and they pride themselves on the work they release. Small presses might not be as popular as our larger publishing companies, but they have earned their rightful place in the literary world and they have just as much to give. Presses such as Action Books and Black Ocean want to make a statement, they have words they wish to share with the world and that’s beautiful.

Works Cited:

Carmody, Teresa. “On small press publishing” Jacket2, Jacket2, 25 Sep. 2013, https://jacket2.org/article/small-press-publishing.

Carter, Laura, and Carrie Adams. “An Interview with Black Ocean.” Jacket2, Jacket2, 22 Oct. 2015, jacket2.org/commentary/interview-action-books.

Carter, Laura, and Johannes Göransson. “An Interview with Action Books.” Jacket2, Jacket2, 8 Oct. 2015, https://jacket2.org/commentary/interview-black-ocean.

1 thought on “The Power of Small Presses”

  1. You are definitely right about Small Presses having some AMAZING works come out of them. Some of my favorite stories were produced by lesser known presses. While I think it is a good idea to publish through a press (as the press will also want to support your work in their favor also), I think there should be less focus on the size/popularity of the press in question.

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