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An Interview with Dancing Girl Press

By Harriet Staff

Over at Laura Madeline Wiseman, a great interview with Dancing Girl Press’s Kristy Bowen, who responds to recent VIDA stats by saying, “I do feel like dancing girl does a lot toward making women poets part of the general conversation that is American poetry, even if other entities are still falling short.” More:

You write that the goal of DPG was to “To publish poets who were emerging in the morass of contemporary poetry, poets who fell through the cracks between the mainstream and avant-garde. Poets who wrote interesting and surprising work that varied from the mundane. Poets who employed hybridity and collage. Poets whose work was like nothing else.” Beyond your goal to publish such work, what else influences your decision making?

I tend to gravitate toward collections that are tightly woven projects, where every poem within the manuscript works toward a concept and has a reason for being there. There is always a lot of discussions about “project books” vs. “mix –tape” books and the pitfalls/benefits of using those approaches to guide a book-length manuscript. But I feel like chapbooks, because of their length, lend themselves very much forward the former. While both writing/reading an entire 50+ page collection of poems about X, Y, or Z might prove overkill or tiresome, a slender 20 page chap might be just the perfect length.

As for the press’s inspiration:

In a couple of interviews you noted the name for DGP was inspired by a French poster of a can-can dancer and in other interviews you note that you have a strong proclivity for the gothic (especially the Midwest gothic), horror, and the Victorian. How do these find manifestation in Dancing Girl Press?

I think, in with my proclivities for strange and quirky books, falls a proclivity for books that have some sort of darkness to them. This isn’t true of everything we publish, but probably a vast majority of it. I suppose it’s probably only natural that the elements I feel pervading my own work are reflected in the things I choose to publish. I can think of a couple books, Kristen Sanders’ Orthorexia and Erin Mullikin’s Strategies for the Bromidic that would be considered somewhat dark, though in very different ways. A history and research buff, I also tend to gravitate toward things that are historically based, books like J. Hope Stein’s [talking doll;] (about Einstein) and your own She Who Loves Her Father (about Cleopatra).

You recently spoke at AWP in a chapbook publishing roundtable with other editors of chapbook presses. Was there something from that roundtable discussion that you wish every poet and writer had been there to hear?

I tend to get nervous and worry through most speaking engagements then block them out, but I remember it was a great panel. I was sitting next to Andrew Wessels from The Offending Adam which makes these amazing little chapvelopes filled with booklets and broadsides. I know we talked a bit about the process of publication, from the point where a manuscript is read and accepted on down to the day it’s officially released. A lot of people were surprised at the smallness of an operation that produces so many books.

Read the full interview here.

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Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, July 10th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.