Akron postcard on the cusp of July

FullSizeRender (8)There’s something exhilarating about being on the cusp, and right now I’m excited for the arrival of July. The baton-pass from June to July mirrors the passing of Akron Poetry Prize manuscripts to the judge after months of reading and deliberation.

For a moment today I thought about how I’ve read close to 600 poetry manuscripts in the past two months, and by the end of the weekend it will be a full 606. I love this part of the year, but at times I feel like there are almost toxic levels of poetry in my bloodstream.

I hope to convert this energy into poems of my own. Onward into the rest of the summer. Or at least onward into July.

I’ve got the baton firmly in hand.

World’s Biggest Thank You Note

IMG_0725I 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.

IMG_0788Thanks 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.

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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.

Love Song for the Akron Series in Poetry at the University of Akron Press

uapress awpI’m not sure where to start, so I will send you to the Kenyon Review blog, where I say a few things about my editorial home since 2008, the University of Akron Press.

My favorite poetry collections are ones that aren’t afraid to show their teeth. I lecture my graduate students about how taking risks can be a way to understand a poem’s underlying obsessions and passions. Many of the books that I accepted for publication as my editor’s choice selections were first books by innovative new poets such as Sarah Perrier, Emilia Phillips, Brittany Cavallaro, and Jennifer Moore. During my time as editor of the Akron Series in Poetry, and the Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics, which I founded in 2009 with John Gallaher, I worked closely with designer Amy Freels. I can say that what we did was not just literary publishing, but the creation ouapress aamf art. We engaged deeply with the books, pondering the intersection of text and design, and corresponded extensively with the authors regarding all aspects of publication. In many ways it felt like we were a pair of midwives, offering support and encouragement and wisdom to ease something miraculous into the world.