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New York Times Poetry Profiles: Alice James Books
In the latest installment of New York Times Poetry Profiles, Dana Jennings interviews Carey Salerno, executive director of Alice James Books. The press was founded in 1973 by seven poets who sought to “establish a press that ‘gave women writers a chance,’ especially female poets who found their work to be rejected when they were not ‘writing like a man.”
A few interview highlights, here:
When you’re reading a manuscript submission, what are you looking for in the poems?
Simply, something compelling. Something with heart and connection. I’ve read many manuscripts that feel like the poet is just going through the motions, or perhaps figured out how to write a poem one way and there are 50 poems clipped together that are doing the same thing. I want discovery, adventure, heart, investment and skill. Also, I don’t just want strangeness or experimentation. There should be purpose. We want to be wowed, yes, but I can’t be wowed without the reassurance that there exists something purposeful and directional in a body of work.
Why Publish Poetry?
Poetry is the oldest established form for the written word, and it is a necessary embodiment of language, a vehicle by which we are able to express and explore even the most complex concepts and emotions. Poetry is a mode of expansion and play, a mode of questioning and affirming. It allows for discovery and meditation. The quiet and most intimate act of holding and reading a collection of poems — especially these days when our brains are overworked and we are inundated with noise — should be protected and kept sacred.
Read more at New York Times.