Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Celebration of Somerville’s Small Presses

By Doug Holder

The small or alternative press does not have a “small” place in literary history. Poets as diverse as Whitman, Frost, Ginsberg or Bukowski, have cut their teeth in the world of little magazines and small presses. The thousands of small presses (defined as press runs of fewer than 5,000 and less than twelve titles per year) have provided a way for the emerging poet to have his or her art find an audience. Major university libraries like University of Buffalo, Brown University, and the University of Wisconsin/Madison have huge collections that archive many of the booklets, chapbooks, broadsides, etc… that have been produced to date. For instance: Mike Basinski, the curator of the University of Buffalo Poetry and Rare Books Collection, is dedicated to collecting first editions poetry books, etc… from all small press poets and publishers from around the globe.

The city of Somerville is a city that has a rich history of small presses. From Robert Smith’s still thriving “Yellow Moon Press,” to the now Brookline-based Zephyr Press; there has always been a number of small presses putting out product. Magazines such as: “Dark House,” “Aspect,” and the” Boston Literary Review,” all had roots in Somerville.

On Feb. 19 2007 at 8PM three Somerville small presses, “Ibbetson Street,” “Sunnyoutside,’ and “Cervena Barva Press” are going to be part of a celebration of the city’s small presses at Club Passim presented by Richard Cambridge’s resident “Poet’s Theatre” The event will include selected readings by poets from the said presses such as: poet Catherine Sasanov, Mary Bonina, Timothy Gager, Lo Galluccio, Ann Carhart, Philip Burnham, Nate Graziano, Deborah M. Priestly, and Molly Lynn Watt to name a few. There will also be a book table with books from all the publishers.

All three founders of these presses will be on hand to introduce their writers and give an overview of their enterprises. Dave McNamara, founder of sunnyoutside and a graduate of Emerson College’s Publishing Program, will talk about his dedication to innovative writing as well as production values with regard to design, font, paper, and illustrations. Gloria Mindock, the founder of the Cervena Barva Press, has a long history as an editor and a publisher of the defunct “Boston Literary Review,” as well as extensive experience in avant-garde theatre. Mindock will talk about her popular literary e-newsletter as well as her growing publication list of poetry, and fiction titles. And yours truly Doug Holder will talk about the “Ibbetson Street Press”, and the 30 plus books and twenty journals they have published since 1998.

The event will be a great introduction for the novice as well as the more established poets and writers to familiarize themselves with our rich literary terrain.

Doug Holder For more information go to

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