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The New York Times Profiles Octopus Press

By Harriet Staff

NYT‘s “Arts Beat” profiles Octopus Press! Dana Jennings interviews the editors of Octopus Books: Hajara Quinn, Zachary Schomburg, Mathias Svalina, and Alisa Heinzman.

What are you looking for in a poetry manuscript?

We accept submissions for full-length poetry manuscripts every April, and we have started accepting submissions for translations of poetry every May. Because we accept manuscripts from this anonymous, open annual reading period, a great deal of the reading we do is from writers with whom we’re not familiar. It’s invigorating. It’s like looking for a new species by inviting all of the flora and fauna over to your house.

I think we want to be disarmed and then we want to be equipped with a new vocabulary. Or maybe it’s the other way around, and we want to be equipped and then disarmed. Either way, we want it both ways. We’re not looking for gravitas so much as we’re looking for a kind of back-door seriousness. Also, what we look for in books expands a little with every new book. If we knew what we were looking for, we’d just write our books ourselves.

What book in the last five years do you wish you had published?

We have something of a rolling and continuing wish list of books we would have been elated to publish. This is the privilege of publishing alongside other small presses like Factory Hollow, Letter Machine, Black Ocean, Flood Editions, Ugly Duckling Presse, Song Cave and so many others. Some of these include: Julie Carr’s “100 Notes on Violence” (Ahsahta Press), Jane Gregory’s “My Enemies” (Song Cave), “Texture Notes” by Sawako Nakayasu (Letter Machine), “Thin Kimono” by Michael Earl Craig (Wave Books), “To Anacreon in Heaven and Other Poems” by Graham Foust (Flood Editions) and “Great Guns” by Farnoosh Fathi (Canarium Books).

Learn more about Octopus at NYT.

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Posted in Poetry News on Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 by Harriet Staff.