The official weblog of the little-poetry-press-that-could, Plan B Press. Specializing in chapbooks, we have published of over 40 books from authors both local and international.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
The idea of the Press was tied directly to the existence of the first poetry festival taking place in the USA during National Poetry Month (each April). By the time this idea was being acted upon the National Poetry Month concept as presented by the Academy of American Poets was in its third year. Nowhere in the United States, and frankly nowhere on the planet, was there a month-long poetry festival. Only in Berks County, Pennsylvania. Only the one presented by the Berks Bards, only the one called Bardfest.
As the founder of both the festival and the organization to present the festival, I had also come to the idea of creating a Press to showcase some of the poets and the work being presented during the 30 day festival. Across Berks County during 1999, at a multiple of different venues and locations, poets read, shouted, performed, sang, and listen to dozens of poets coming from across the state and region as well as many county-wide poets.
At the end of this thrilling, overwhelming month the Berks Bards, now all of 6-weeks old as an organization, collected poems that were read during the fesitval for our first anthology, Bardfest99. The Heroic efforts of Dianne Miller resulted in the first project to bear the name 'Plan B Press' on it.
This collection of writings by 21 of the participating poets with a list of 30 plus venues on the front cover. It began an instant collector's item in the area, and now is long out of print. But since every Press has to begin somewhere, here is our beginning story.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
1999 - first book, Dianne Miller's I'm Not Finished Yet.... a perfectly delightful way to begin, with a sense of incompletion. Cofounder Dianne Miller is first out of the gate with this collection of poems written over the previous few years accompanied by black & white photos taken by author. Many of these poems appeared in the poetry newsletter/journal that she edited called 'Two Thought Minimum'.
This period of time was quite productive for Dianne as she began to make her imprint into the Central Pennsylvania literary scene. In 1996, she stumbled upon a scene at a coffeehouse in Lancaster, PA called The Monk's Tunic and it's poetry night hosted by stevenallenmay. The reading series was called Two Thought Minimum and had begun the previous summer. Twice a month, on a Tuesday night, poets from the area and occasionally from far off Dover, Delaware and Philadelphia would fill the air with verse, coffee, and energy.
Among those attending were Terri Durden, who was one of the first poets published by the fledgling Press in 2001.
A chance remark made by stevenallenmay during a reading in December of 1996 led to Dianne creating the poetry newsletter, Two Thought Minimum, which existed until 1998. At that point it evolved into 'Verb.o.city'. It ceased publication around the time that Plan B Press began.
Monday, September 10, 2007
The concept was to create a Press to publish people who would be reading at the month long poetry festival, Bardfest99. That didn't exactly play out as we had imagined but what did was a publishing entity that did publish work of some of the poets who had been the driving forces behind the festival. Dianne Miller's "I'm Not Finished Yet" was the first collection brought out. That was in 1999.
While the poetry festival succeeded beyond our wildest imaginings, the co-founders of Plan B Press had concerns beyond those of printing books. Dianne had a family and stevenallenmay had a zillion other projects to begin. There would be Bardfest2000, Lebanon Poetry Project, Lancaster Poets Out Loud (Dianne Miller with Terri Durden primary organizers), Bardfest2001, and scores of individual and group readings and events across Central Pennsylvania.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Initially publishing poets from Central Pennsylvania, Plan B Press has evolved into a more urban-based Press. Plan B Press began as the brainchild of stevenallenmay, who began the press with Dianne Miller in 1998. Plan B Press evolved out of a poetryzine called "Two Thought Minimum" named for the poetry series where they met in 1996. Dianne was the one with a computer and the desire, stevenallenmay was the one with the idea and the energy. In 1999, these two collaborated to present Bardfest, the only 30 day poetry festival to occur in the United States during the month of April. The Press published its first handful of books over the course of the next two years.
In 2003, Dianne Miller passed control of the press to stevenallenmay and Katy Jean May, who initiated an editorial and geographical shift. Plan B Press was moved to Philadelphia and began publishing multiple titles by a distinctive array of authors. The reach of the press expanded to other states, and in 2005 to other countries. Plan B Press continues to grow and define itself by not only the authors that it publishes, but also by its readers.
Plan B Press is transitioning into a 501c3 non-profit in order to better serve not only the authors it publishes, but also the community at large. By being able to expand its catalogue of wonderful grass-roots writers, it has the opportunity to enrich the literary community at the same time.
Artistically, Plan B Press is looking for artists who might, in this age of internet and digital access, not be entirely comfortable with the confining tag of "poet" or "writer" but who sees his/her own work as something beyond labels. An artist who presents multimedia work, including text may in fact rather be called "artist". This merging of technology and art with the striction of literature and poetics is one of the spaces that Plan B Press now attempts to fill. Jump-starting this process, over the summer of 2005 Plan B Press began developing a new division called "Stay At Home Press" specializing in the direction toward 'art books'.