In the Midwest we love a good underdog story. Whether it’s an unlikely sports victory or the turnaround of a forgotten downtown, we find inspiration in the unexpected triumph over adversity.
Because of this, we University of Akron Press folks are especially excited about Leslie Harrison’s The Book of Endings being named a finalist for the National Book Award in poetry.
In the summer of 2015, I packed up my office at the University of Akron Press, thinking I would never return. Now, in 2017, I’m making plans to go to New York and cheer on University of Akron Press author Leslie Harrison at the National Book Awards, something I would never have imagined as I boxed up my owls and post cards and books and archived correspondence and favorite AWP swag and entered a world where I was no longer an editor.
Today I’m sending gratitude to everyone who helped us bring the University of Akron Press back. To those who advocated on our behalf, to Jon Miller who took the wheel, to Amy Freels (always!) for continuing to make the most gorgeous books on earth, to Noor Hindi, my assistant editor, to Sarah Dravec, Emily Levin, Jay Robinson, Courtney Turner, and Brew Wilson-Battles, who all read manuscripts with me and offered their insights. I also thank all of our poetry and poetics authors, along with Leslie Harrison, for having faith in the University of Akron Press. And finally, thank you to our readers. Poetry lives, and you have kept it alive.
We’re thrilled to share the news that University of Akron Press poetry collection The Book of Endings by Leslie Harrison is on the longlist for the National Book Award. We’ve never been longlisted for this before, and couldn’t be happier. Best of luck to Leslie!
What a pleasure to participate in a publishing panel at Ball State University with Sequoia Nagamatsu, Dan Raeburn, and Iliana Rocha. Thanks to Ball State Creative Writing for capturing us in action with this photo. It was great to bring a bit of Akron (including some #poetrylives buttons) to Indiana, and to talk about my experiences as a poet and editor.
Many thanks to the organizers of the In Print Festival of First Books at Ball State University for inviting me to come speak about my experiences as a poet and as the editor of the Akron Series in Poetry. From their website:
In Print XII (2017) will feature poet Iliana Rocha, fiction writer Sequoia Nagamatsu, and creative nonfiction writer Dan Raeburn. Rocha, Nagamatsu, and Raeburn will read from their work on Wednesday, March 15 at 8 PM in AJ 175. They will be joined by publisher/poet Mary Biddinger for a panel discussion about the publication industry on Thursday, March 16 at 8 PM in AJ 175.
AWP 2017 in DC is a little over a month away. How is that possible? I’m excited to be presenting on two panels this year: “Don’t Stop the Presses: On the Enduring Value of the University Press” early Thursday afternoon, and “Stars to Steer By: Rethinking Creative Writing Curriculum for the 21st Century” late Friday afternoon. I hope to see you there. Happy 2017 to all!
Even though it ended on a high note, with the restoration of the University of Akron Press, I’m glad to kick August to the curb and get back to work. Akron Poetry Prize stuff! Two excellent classes (one world poetry, one an MFA class on first books)! Plenty of student questions to answer! Once again I am taking far too much time writing, revising, and over-honing my syllabi. But what would a new semester be without all that?
In terms of my own poems, I’m still waiting. I can be patient. Last week we got to announce the good news about The Czar, and any day now Small Enterprise will roll off the press. Nothing against the desolation of the marshes and woods, but I rather like being able to talk to people again.
I don’t even want to tell you how many dreams I’ve had about the University of Akron Press over the past month. Some of them were ordinary dreams, like eating yogurt and scrolling through Submittable, and others were argumentative and involving closed-door meetings where people were angry. Every morning I’d wake up and have to once again remind myself that the press was gone.
Thanks to the amazing activism of our fans, authors, colleagues, and students, the University of Akron Press has now been restored. I feel like I need to find the world’s biggest thank you note (the kind that would put a huge novelty check to shame) and share it with you. This has been a dramatic and soul-wrenching summer, but I am so emboldened by the fact that our efforts were successful in bringing back the press, including the Akron Series in Poetry.
I’m gradually returning my owl pictures and post-its and books to my office. I may have to treat myself to some new office supplies, just to ring in this next phase. As of yesterday, I can now also say, See you at AWP 2016 in LA. Barn Owl Review and the University of Akron Press will be at table 313. All was lost for us, and we are incredibly thankful to have it back.
Maybe I’m a sentimental and overly dramatic poet, but in the past weeks I kept thinking of my little press office, and empty desk, frozen in time in its home in Quaker Square. Needless to say, after I’d dusted things off and settled in yesterday, it was like old times, but also not like old times. We’re shaken, but we are stronger. I can’t wait to tell my students this semester that poetry really does have power. The revival of the University of Akron Press is proof of it.