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NYTimes’s ArtsBeat Blog Profiles Copper Canyon Press

By Harriet Staff


We strongly recommend Dana Jennings’s fantastic and informative interview with Copper Canyon Press’s Executive Editor, Michael Wiegers, on the New York Times’s ArtsBeat blog! It’s a great glimpse into the inner-workings of one mighty small press publisher, tucked away in the woods of Port Townshend, WA.

Small presses are the lifeblood of poetry. Whether tucked behind the nurturing skirts of a university press, or weathering (mostly) harsh cultural indifference on their own, small presses are often the first to ferret out new and vital voices, to exhume lost masterpieces or to translate essential work from other languages.

Many smart people say they’re panic-stricken by poetry, as if it were an iambic migraine to be ducked. One purpose of these occasional profiles in poetry is to educate readers who might be tempted by the art, but who aren’t sure where to start. We mean to gradually create a guide to the vast archipelago of independent-press poetry publishing.

Copper Canyon Press

(Except where noted, these questions were answered by Michael Wiegers, Copper Canyon’s executive editor.)

A Brief History

Copper Canyon Press was started in 1972 by Sam Hamill, Tree Swenson, William O’Daly and Jim Gautney. In 1974, the press moved to Port Townsend, Wash., where it established a permanent residency with Centrum, a nonprofit arts agency. Over the past 40 years, Copper Canyon has published nearly 500 titles, including works by the Nobel Laureates Pablo Neruda, Odysseas Elytis, Octavio Paz, Vicente Aleixandre and Rabindranath Tagore; the Pulitzer Prize-winners Ted Kooser, Carolyn Kizer, Maxine Kumin, W.S. Merwin and Theodore Roethke; the National Book Award winners Hayden Carruth, Jean Valentine, Lucille Clifton and Ruth Stone; and some of the most original contemporary poets and translators like Jim Harrison, C.D. Wright, Red Pine, Dean Young, Arthur Sze and Lucia Perillo.

Why Publish Poetry?

In poetry I find what cannot be found elsewhere, and that intangible, irreducible “thing” or “expression” at the heart of the best poems is a wild, untamable part of the human landscape. Poetry is the oldest form of considered expression and through it we are connecting not only with our generation, but with centuries of human expression. And we learn about ourselves. I want to be a part of that making and engage what I consider to be the better parts of the human intellect and imagination.

Continue reading at NYT.

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Posted in Poetry News on Friday, October 25th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.