We’re interested in Massachusetts arts organizations that identify a specific need for artists, then shape their organization to directly meet that need in essence, match the right horse with the right course.
We talked to Abigail Beckel and Kathleen Rooney, founders of Rose Metal Press, a recent recipient of organizational grant support from the MCC. Abigail and Kathleen saw a community of writers (such as past Artist Fellows Steve Almond and Peter Jay Shippy) doing out-of-the-ordinary work. So they formed an out-of-the-ordinary press to publish it.
The course: a growing number of literary artists are creating works – like flash fictions or book-length poems – that push the boundaries of form and have trouble finding a place in traditional publishing.
The horse: Rose Metal Press, an independent, not-for-profit publisher of hybrid genres.
What we do: We publish a total of three books a year: One is the winner of our annual short short chapbook contest, and the other two are full-length books selected from what we receive in our specific open reading periods or what comes over the transom in the form of unsolicited submissions. We make our selections based on our mission statement: “We’re an independent, not-for-profit publisher of hybrid genres specializing in the publication of short short, flash, and micro-fiction; prose poetry; novels-in-verse or book-length narrative poems; and other works that move beyond the traditional genres of poetry, fiction, and essay to find new forms of expression.”
Since we only do three books a year, we’re able to promote them fairly aggressively by sending out tons of review copies and setting up as many readings, panels, and workshops all over the country as our various authors are willing and able to do.
Whats up next: In August, we released our latest short short chapbook contest winner, How Some People Like Their Eggs by Sean Lovelace (read an excerpt), so we’re up to our eyeballs in getting the word out. He’ll be doing a couple readings in Indiana in October and November, so if you find yourself in or near the Hoosier State then, you should check him out.
Early next year, we’re going to release The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice, edited by Gary L. McDowell and F. Daniel Rzicznek, the second book in a two-book series that started with The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction, edited by Tara L. Masih and released in spring 2009 (ed. note: read an interview with Tara Masih).
After the launch of the second Field Guide, we’ll publish our as-yet-to-be-selected Fourth Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest winner in the summer, and in fall 2010, we’re excited to release one of the most unusual books we’ve done so far, Color Plates by Adam Golaski. Color Plates delivers eerie small fictions that blur the lines between art and prose, time and place.
In the meantime, we have upcoming readings featuring our various authors in such states as Colorado, Connecticut, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, and, of course, Massachusetts. You can get all the up-to-the-minute details here.
What writers interesting in submitting work to us need to know: We have a very specific focus, per our mission statement, but we always try to emphasize that our interpretation of “hybrid” is extremely broad, since innovative often comes to us in forms we hadn’t dreamed up yet ourselves and can barely name. But at our mission’s core is the combination or merging of genres in an innovative and effective way. The best way to figure out what we mean (everybody says this, including us, and we say it often, but that’s because it bears repeating) is to read some of our books. But if you’re reading this interview and you think you may have something that we’d be into, the best course of action is to query us and see. Be sure to mention that you heard about us here!
We will accept submissions for the Fourth Annual Short Short Chapbook Contest between October 15 and December 1, 2009. The winner will have his/her chapbook published in summer 2010. For information on how to submit to the contest, as well as submission inquiries in general, see the press’s web site.
Abigail Beckel has worked professionally in publishing for more than eight years and is a published poet. Her poems have been published in 13th Moon, Rainbow Curve, and Family Matters: Poems of Our Families (Bottom Dog Press). Poet and writer Kathleen Rooney is the author of numerous books, including Oneiromance (an epithalamion) (Switchback Books, 2008), Live Nude Girl: My Life as an Object (Arkansas, 2009), and the forthcoming prose collection For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs (Counterpoint Press 2010).
Images: Rose Metal Press logo; cover art for HOW TO BUILD A GHOST IN YOUR ATTIC by Peter Jay Shippy (Rose Metal Press 2007); cover art for BREVITY AND ECHO, edited by Abigail Beckel and Kathleen Rooney (Rose Metal Press 2006); cover art for FIELD GUIDE TO WRITING FLASH FICTION (Rose Metal Press 2009).