—Yes, it was Thomas Stearns Eliot, a Nobel Prize winner, who penned in his “The Waste Land,” the popular line: April is the cruelest month. But, here we’re a bit more optimistic because April is the coolest month as poetry is celebrated across the country and California during National Poetry Month.
One of the leading national poetry websites belongs to www.poets.org, whose editors have compiled the list of small presses (see below). Click on the website’s California section and you’ll be reminded that Carol Muske-Dukes is the state poet laureate. Also, available on the site is networking opportunities with a roster of groups such as the Independent Writers of Southern California.
Not on the website, however, is D.G. Wills, the bookstore popular with poets and non-poets like (7461 Girard Avenue, La Jolla, 858-456-1800). Dennis Wills has been in business for more than 20 years. The bookstore is right out of central casting, including being next door to a wonderful coffee house. What else does a budding poet need?
Since you asked, poets need to be published. And, the following list of small presses will give you that chance. But be smart about it. Go the old fashioned route. Don’t call or email. Go to the website of each journal and do your homework as to what they focus on publishing. Then write a cover letter to the editor describing your style of poetry. Enclose your poetry with self-stamped envelope and patiently wait for fame and fortune to come knocking.In the meantime, for the latest in California’s poetry scene wander through the websites of these wonderful journals. Sample what they publish. After all, it is Poetry Month.
CALIFORNIA SMALL POETRY PRESSES & JOURNALS
Apple Valley Review
--www.applevalleyreview.comThe Apple Valley Review, a semiannual online literary journal, was founded in 2005. It is published in the spring and fall of the year. Each issue features a collection of new poetry, short fiction, and essays.
--www.avecbooks.orgAvec Books publishes innovative contemporary poetry that deals with the Central California region. The journal also accepts articles and editorials relating to Central California poetry.
Bear Star Press
--www.bearstar.comFounded in 1996, Bear Star Bear Star Press is located in the foothills of rural northern California and publishes poetry (& occasional literary fiction) by writers living west of the central time zone. Each year they award the Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize ($1,000 and publication) to a writer from the region.
City Lights Publishers
--www.citylights.comSince 1955, City Lights has been an independent publisher of cutting-edge literature and books on compelling social and political issues. The publishers formed City Lights Foundation, a nonprofit educational and cultural organization, with the goal of advancing literacy and the literary arts. Book lovers can make a pilgrimage to the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco to check out the best that's published in a wide range of subject areas.
--www.14hills.netSince its inception in 1996, Fourteen Hills has held an impressive reputation within international literary magazines for publishing the highest-quality innovative poetry, fiction, short plays, and literary non-fiction. A publication of San Francisco State University's Creative Writing Program, the biannual journal is committed to presenting a great diversity of experimental and progressive work by emerging and cross-genre writers, as well as by award-winning and established authors.
Kelsey St. Press
--www.kelseyst.comKelsey St. Press has been publishing innovative writing by women since 1974. The Press administers the Frances Jaffer Book Award for a first book of poetry. In the mid-1980's Kelsey St. initiated a unique series of collaborations between visual artists and poets. Kelsey St. coordinates the collaborations and then documents the results.
--www.stmarys-ca-edu/eternal/mary/index.htmlSaint Mary's College's online literary journal of contemporary poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction by established and emerging writers.
New American Writing
--www.newamericanwriting.comFounded in 1986, New American Writing is a literary magazine that emphasizes contemporary American poetry. The magazine appears once a year in early June and is distinctive for publishing a range of innovative contemporary writing.
--www.poetryflash.orgPoetry Flash is a poetry review and literary calendar for the West. Poetry Flash started the annual Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival with Robert Hass. Heyday Books and Poetry Flashhave collaborated to produce a series of poetry books intended to showcase, document, and celebrate poetry in California and will release four volumes annually.
--www.poetryinternational.sdsu.eduSan Diego State University's annual literary journal surveys a wide range of contemporary poetry in America. Each issue also includes a translation section which features poetry from many countries of the world translated into English. San Diego State University Press publishes the journal.
Red Hen Press
--www.redhen.orgFounded in 1994, Red Hen Press is a nonprofit literary press which publishes 16-20 high quality innovative titles a year in poetry, literary fiction, creative non-fiction, counter culture and education, including The Los Angeles Review.
--www.rattle.comPublishing out of Studio City since 1994, Rattle is an independent, national poetry journal. Each issue features interviews with two contemporary poets, and a tribute section with poetry written by a specific ethnic, vocational, or stylistic group. The journal also features the annual Rattle Poetry Prize, which offers $5,000 for a single poem.
Small Press Distribution
--www.spdbooks.orgFounded in 1969 in Berkeley, SPD is the only wholesaler in the country dedicated exclusively to independently published literature. SPD gives the public access to the broad spectrum of literature published today by distributing books to bookstores, libraries, and readers.
The Threepenny Review
--www.threepennyreview.comThe Threepenny Review is a quarterly review of the arts and society. Each issue contains new poetry, short fiction, personal memoirs, and essays on books, film, theater, dance, music, architecture, visual arts, television, and politics.
University of California Press
--www.ucpress.eduAs the nonprofit publishing arm of the University of California, the Press publishes a full spectrum of distinguished works, including poetry. The University of California Press also offers electronic versions of almost all of its journal titles and over 500 books online, many of them out of print.
ZYZZYVA--www.zyzzyva.orgStarted in 1985, this long-running and well-respected journal publishes only West Coast writers and artists, featuring poetry, fiction, art, photos. Published triannually.
SUNDAY REVIEW—A new online literary review
appearing exclusively on Pillar to Post (www.tomshess.blogspot.com).