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.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Looking ahead to Spring 2010

We are publishing three chapbooks plus the 2010 poetry contest winner this coming season while working hard with Kim Roberts to promote the very impressive anthology Full Moon on K Street that is soon to be released. Two of the poets we are publishing are Tony Brewer and Joseph Kerschbaum, who comprise half of Reservoir Dogwoods, an Indianapolis-based spoken word group. Brewer had submitted an entry into the 2009 poetry chapbook contest and I was the reader of his submission and found it very good. After the results of the contest were made known, I wrote Tony and asked him to resubmit the collection. He sent back the now revised collection, "Little Hand in Big Glove", which I felt was an extremely powerful collection.

On the other hand, Joseph Kerschbaum had sent a different collection and then sent a second one when asked. Neither Joseph or Tony mentioned that they worked together - as I was putting together the Spring season I noticed that they both lived in Indianapolis area so I googled them, and hmmm, how about that? I picked two poets who knew each other and worked together. Without knowing, of course, the "happy accident" if you will.

Funny how that happens

till soon


Saturday, December 19, 2009

updating Plan B Press

I want to begin by thanking Jim Mancinelli for curating and hosting a terrific new series in Philadelphia - at the Fishtown Airways gallery - called "Plan B Press poetry series" (catchy name, don'cha think?)

Jim started the series in April 2009 and it has just completed its first year, he will have a fresh new schedule beginning in Jan. 2010. Fantastic job, Jim, many thanks. I also want to extend my appreciation to Talia Weisz for putting together what has been described as a "marvelous evening" at Wild Goose Creative in Columbus, Ohio which doubled as her own book release party and group reading featuring Robert Miltner and Jason Venner. Jason's brand new book, Opening Up the Trees, is freshly out on Plan B Press. In addition to Jason, Katy Whittingham of Mass. is the newest member of the group. Her also freshly printed By a Different Ocean has just returned from the printers and it making its way out into the wide, wide world.

In a few precious weeks, after the season to be jolly has run its course, we will be on a path of incredible opportunity thanks to our teaming up with poet and editor Kim Roberts. Kim is the editor of the beltway online poetry journal which is also the best resource for poets in the DC area as it lists all the reading series, contest info, regional publisher info and features about the city of Washington, D.C. - a position she has now held for 10 years. Thus marking a 10 year anniversary, thus befitting such an anniversary - the reason for Full Moon on K Street : Poems about Washington DC . 160 pages, 101 poets. It's going to be an incredible ride as Kim has nearly monthly readings to support the anthology and to celebrate ten years of online success across the region and as far flung as Chicago (yes, there will be a reading in Chicago, a western surburb of DC). Can't wait for that to start! Jan. 2010!!

On Feb. 5, 2010 at the Soundry in Vienna, VA will be the next Poetry Lab which has gotten off to a terrific start. In Feb., we will have as featured poets, Mary Ann Larkin and Patric Pepper. We published gods & flesh by Larkin in 2007. Together Larkin and Pepper ARE Pond Road Press. The readings at the Soundry take place on the first Friday of the month at 8PM. In March 2010 CL Bledsoe will be reading.

Then on Feb. 9, 2010 at Moonstone Arts Center (formerly Robin's Bookstore) 110 south 13th Street in downtown Philadelphia will be a group reading with Collins, Mancinelli, Belluomini, Maguire, Bodien, Bullard and Meyers; these readings begin at 7PM.

much more soon,

Plan B Press

Friday, December 18, 2009

the value of the small press...

found this piece on the blog of Paul Sutherland's blog, it deals with the value of the small presses. Quite right indeed.

till soon

s - a - m

Thursday, December 10, 2009

more feedback from the Poetry Lab (12/4/09)

this posting from Bernadette Geyer, who was in attendance for the first Poetry Lab.


s - a - m

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

new to the "team" : Angelo Colavita

Introducing to all is the newest member of our Plan B Press team - Angelo Colavita has agreed to be our Philadelphia Publicity and Events Coordinator. Thanks Angelo! Now get out there and set the city on fire with poetry!!!

Monday, December 07, 2009

a review of the first Poetry Lab 12/4/09

the following was written shortly after the first Poetry Lab was completed:

"Well, for those who didn't make it last night (Peace and I were there, representin' Reston), Steve has put together a really good event at the Soundry in a perfect place for a poetry gathering. Imagine this.. a building that at one time was used as an auto garage. cleaned up and repainted and turned into an artists loft, an art galery, a performance stage and a coffee shop with free wireless Internet. (The stage and cafe are in separate parts of the building so you don't get the background noise with coffee grinders, blenders and espresso machines as in other places, I have read. There is nothing worse that that.) I have been to Business networking meetings where as a presenter, I was limited to what I could do by the location in that there wasn't Internet available of any kind, including GSM/cell. Of course I am thinking of the possibilities of Internet to support the Poetry Lab event Steve has talked about for April.

The Soundry has more of an industrial feel than the "tea an biscuts" (Peace's words) literary feel of that in Reston. However, that is what makes it really appealing. The moment that you walk through the door, your realize that this is a different kind of place, set aside for those who create. As you walk the winding art lined path back to the performance room, you get the distinct impression that you are about to become part of the communal, artistic, organic life-form that is the Soundry.

This is an open mic event, that really has a mic. Unless you can project your voice really well -- because of the size of the space, and the semi industrial accoustics and at times the heater kicks on. when reading there, one should consider that its use is not optional, as people will not be able to hear everything you are saying otherwise.

On a side note, the small coffee shop at the Soundry makes a good cup of coffee (free refills) that is distinguished by the lack of Starbuckian, or Carrabou Coffeean stigmas of corporate branding. The protective cardboard cup ring that prevents you from burning your fingers, blatantly reads "F*CK THE MACHINE", which helps the coffee taste that much better.

It is a significant event. A place to bring newly written poetry, let it rip, and press upon the boundaries of poetry that are often limited by what you can do in a coffeehouse or other place of business.

- Saul"

Friday, November 27, 2009

making lemonade out of...

Alaska bookseller will donate profits from Sarah Palin's book, 'Going Rogue,' to Defenders of Wildlife
November 18, 2009 | from AP
Now, this is mavericky.

An independent bookseller in Sarah Palin's home state is donating the proceeds he makes off her book to a group that is among the biggest critics of the former Republican vice presidential candidate.

Don Muller owns Old Harbor Books in Sitka. He's selling Palin's memoir, "Going Rogue," for $28.99, and says he will donate profits to Defenders of Wildlife.

The wildlife conservation group often butted heads with Palin over her support of the state's predator control program, in which bears and wolves are shot from aircraft.

Muller says he's not a fan of Palin. He tells the Daily Sitka Sentinel that donating proceeds to Defenders of Wildlife is a way to "carry the book and do something positive."

Thursday, November 05, 2009

a new chapter starts in Vienna, VA

Beginning Dec. 4, 2009 at the Soundry in Vienna, VA Plan B Press will be lending its expertise in curating and hosting a new poetry series - "The Poetry Lab". The Poetry Lab will be a poetic "Black Box" in the coolest space I have yet since moving to Northern Virginia in 2004!! The room where The Poetry Lab will be taking place is wired for sound, has art hanging from the wall and is the most experimentally-friendly space I have been in since setting up poetry readings in The Fat Little Demon's rehearsal space in a warehouse back in Lancaster, PA in the mid-1990's.

The possibilities are limitless. The Poetry Lab will be held the first Friday of the month from 8-9:30PM at the Soundry and we are looking for poets interested in participating.

Very excited about the prospects here, it's a fantastic space!


s - a - m

Friday, October 30, 2009

Plan B Press on the silver screen

A little while ago, Jason, the owner of Wolfgang Books in Phoenixville, PA posted something on Facebook asking people if they recognized the bookstore in a trailer, the trailer above, for a new movie coming out called "99 percent sure". I watched the trailer, and then at 1:58 of the trailer I got real excited and backed up the trailer and froze the image and sure enough I KNEW which bookstore it was because I was looking at SEVERAL Plan B Press books!!! Wolfgang Books is in the film and we are represented !! Awesome!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

new feature : a fitful hat of questions

I forget the sequence of events but sometime after moving the DC area from Philly, I became aware of Kim Roberts and her Beltway online poetry journal. She began to link our events and contests on her vast resource pages. We found an electronic home in the DC while I was being more than mildly distracted by Grad School and Katy was began working at Foggy Bottom.

Kim organized the first DC area publishers event at her house in North East DC, and I was there. Something like that simply couldn't happen in Philly. Anyway, over time Kim and I discussed various ideas and she then approached Plan B Press with an idea for publishing the tenth year anniversary anthology of Beltway. We readily agreed.

The idea for developing this form of "interview" or "e-nterview" comes as much from the medium as from images that play often on repeat in my head of bowlers whirling in B&W without bodies from Hans Richter's Ghosts Before Breakfast (1928). So this is the initial rendering of A fitful hat of questions :

PBP : You seem to have become something of a DC literary archivist, how did that happen?

KR: It happened when I fell in love all over again with Walt Whitman. When my friend Martha was dying of cancer, I went back to Whitman's writing about nursing Civil War soldiers. I was living with Martha, taking care of her, and it gave such comfort to me to read about Whitman's experiences in the hospitals in DC--it was truly a help to me emotionally. That led me to re-read his poems, and that led me to wonder where he'd lived when he was a resident of Washington. I couldn't find anyone who'd done the research on his boarding houses--where they were located, what his living conditions were--so I did it myself, going through his correspondence at the Library of Congress as well as checking annual City Directories. The real trick was translating pre-1870 addresses into current street addresses. Before 1870, the street numbering system was completely different, which provided quite a challenge. I was able to find sites of seven boarding houses where Whitman lived.

I later got interested in the city's rich Harlem Renaissance history. Unlike my research on Whitman, many author's houses from the 1920s still stand, and it was exciting to find where Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston and other literary heroes of mine lived.

PBP: What prompted you to start Beltway Poetry Quarterly online magazine?

KR: It was the idea of my friend Kathy Keler. Kathy is a painter and graphic designer, and she started a website called "washingtonart" to showcase other area visual artists. She thought it would be a great idea to pair this with some poems, and--after convincing me, since I initially took some convincing--Kathy taught me some basics of html, and designed the logo and overall look of the journal. I can't believe that it will be ten years old this coming January! The journal has taught me so much, and introduced me to so many poets.

PBP: Can you give some detail to your walking tours of Washington DC ; they are all literary tours, correct?

Yes, I now give Whitman Walking Tours of downtown DC and Harlem Renaissance Tours of the U Street area. Mostly school groups hire me, but I've given tours for patrons from Arena Stage, and alumni associations from Howard University and the Corcoran School of Art. I love giving the tours.

For a few years, I worked on "The Big Read" for the Humanities Council of Washington, and created walking tours tied to the books they were promoting, so I wrote a Zora Neale Hurston tour, an F. Scott Fitzgerald tour of Dupont Circle (called "Jazz Age Stories of the Rich and Scandalous"), and a "New Deal Washington" Tour of the neighborhoods around the White House (to accompany the book The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers). I also wrote a walking tour of the Rosslyn neighborhood for Arlington County government, which looked at architecture, public art, and history.

PBP: The anthology, Full Moon on K Street, which you are editing, has evolved from a celebration of Beltway Magazine to a more sweeping look at the city’s poetry over the past 50 years. How did that happen?

KR: The anthology is an overlapping of my several obsessions: poetry, of course, but also literary history, and the built environment. I love cities--their architecture, their grid, the way large groups of people use the space--and I love DC especially. I've looked at a lot of other anthologies, and nothing like this exists--a portrait of the city from 1950 to the present, and the places within the city that have meant something special to these authors.

PBP: What types of obstacles have you had to deal with in preparing the anthology? What has been most frustrating and most rewarding in the effort?

KR: Compiling an anthology is much harder than I imagined! There were lots of authors I knew I wanted to include, and I looked back over their work, and was surprised to see that many never wrote poems set in DC. That includes such authors as wide ranging as Larry Neal, Archibald MacLeish, Owen Dodson, and Anthony Hecht. There were other authors, such as Dierdra Baldwin, Gloria Oden, and Haki Madhubuti who did not respond to my request for poems. It would have been lovely to have included all of them.

But there were lots of wonderful coups as well. I spoke to the next-of-kin of many authors who have passed away who were enthusiastic about the project. Some, like Ed Cox's family, were thrilled to be reminded that their loved ones are still read and loved by the larger literary community. I am so grateful to them (as well as the families of Hilary Tham, Ann Darr, Betty Parry, and others) for the warm responses they gave.

I was also gratified by the poets who--like Myra Sklarew--decided to write poems specifically for this anthology. And I was pleased to be able to track down so many authors who once lived in DC and have since moved away, such as Michael Lally, Gray Jacobik, Minnie Bruce Pratt, and Sharan Strange.

There are also poets included who I think should be better known to readers. I was able to get permission to reprint a poem by Essex Hemphill, the pioneering African-American gay rights activist whose poetry is a revelation, but whose work was long kept out of circulation by family members wanting to preserve their privacy. There are poems by Percy Johnston, a leader of the Howard Poets of the 1970s, and Eugene McCarthy, best remembered as a Senator and five-time Presidential candidate. Their poems, different as they are, show great humor and an deep engagement with the world around them. Jose Emilio Pacheco, little known here, is widely considered Mexico's greatest living poet. He taught at the University of Maryland for one semester a year for many years, and his poem about Sligo Creek is a terrific addition to the book. And Gaston Neal, who published so little during his lifetime but was a mentor to so many, is included with a tribute poem to Sterling Brown.

What was hardest was keeping the anthology restricted to only 100 poems. (Actually, I overshot the mark slightly; there are 101.) I could easily--very easily!--have included twice that number. There are many, many authors I regret leaving out. But there was a lot I was trying to balance in this collection: I wanted each decade from the 1950s to the present to be well represented. I wanted to include poems about the widest range of the city's geography (not just poems about the monuments and Capitol Hill). I wanted to include authors who are well known next to authors who would be new discoveries for most readers. Overall, I am very exciting with the mix I was able to bring together.

PBP: Who have been your most important influences/mentors in your development as a poet?

KR: There are so many poets whose work I love, who have shaped me as a writer. But I will name three here, whose work I return to again and again: Walt Whitman (a former DC resident himself), Marianne Moore, and Gwendolyn Brooks.

PBP: Is there a quote that you live by?

KR: I've long loved this one, from President John F. Kennedy--which I made Beltway Poetry Quarterly's motto: "When politics corrupts, poetry cleanses."

I will give you the fuller quote here. Kennedy wrote: “When power leads a man toward arrogancy, poetry reminds him of his limitations. When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses. For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.”

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Plan B Press and editor Kim Roberts team up !

New Anthology! Full Moon On K Street: Poems About Washington, DC

Plan B Press will release a new print anthology in January 2010, edited by Kim Roberts. Full Moon On K Street: Poems About Washington, DC will include 100 poems, written by current and former residents of the city between 1950 and the present.

Contributors include:

Karren L. Alenier, Kwame Alexander, Abdul Ali, Francisco Aragón, Naomi Ayala, Jonetta Rose Barras, Holly Bass, Paulette Beete, R. Dwayne Betts, Derrick Weston Brown, Sterling A. Brown, Sarah Browning, Regie Cabico, Kenneth Carroll, Grace Cavalieri, William Claire, Carleasa Coates, Jane Alberdeston Coralín, Ed Cox, Teri Ellen Cross, Ramola D, Kyle Dargan, Ann Darr, Tina Darragh, Christina Daub, Hayes Davis, Thulani Davis, Donna Denizé, Joel Dias-Porter, Tim Dlugos, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Roland Flint, Sunil Freeman, Deirdre Gantt, David Gewanter, Brian Gilmore, Robert L. Giron, Barbara Goldberg, Patricia Gray, Michael Gushue, Daniel Gutstein, O.B. Hardison, Jr., Essex Hemphill, Randall Horton, Natalie E. Illlum, Esther Iverem, Gray Jacobik, Brandon D. Johnson, Percy E. Johnston, Jr., Fred Joiner, Beth Joselow, Alan King, Michael Lally, Mary Ann Larkin, Merrill Leffler, Toni Asante Lightfoot, Saundra Rose Maley, David McAleavey, Richard McCann, Eugene J. McCarthy, Judith McCombs, Tony Medina, E. Ethelbert Miller, May Miller, Samuel Miranda, Miles David Moore, Yvette Neisser Moreno, Kathi Morrison-Taylor, Jose Emilio Pacheco, Jose Padua, Michelle Parkerson, Betty Parry, Linda Pastan, Richard Peabody, Elizabeth Poliner, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Liam Rector, Joan Retallack, Katy Richey, Joseph Ross, Ken Rumble, Robert Sargent, Gregg Shapiro, Myra Sklarew, Alan Spears, Sharan Strange, A.B. Spellman, Hilary Tham, Maureen Thorson, Venus Thrash, Dan Vera, Rebecca Villarreal, Belle Waring, Joshua Weiner, Reed Whittemore, Terence Winch, Ahmos Zu-Bolton II.

A series of readings to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Beltway Magazine will commence in January 2010!
The opportunity to pre-order this unique anthology will be available soon!!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

catching up with myself again

The reading at Wolfgang Books on Sept. 19 was great. Chris Bullard presented his work extremely well, considering the motorcycles and teen aged LOUD girls outside. C L Bledsoe read some terrific pieces, including one that I can foresee being the title of a new collection. Elizabeth Bodien read some blazons . She read new and more experimental work. s - a - m read a mix of work. Got the best response to an older piece about a "real life" situation that was heartfelt and tragic-true.

The following weekend, Sept. 26, Katy & I visited with our dear friends Jim (Mancinelli) & his partner, Dave, in Philadelphia. It was really nice to spend time with some really good friends.

This weekend we are "back to it" again, laying out books and creating stunning visual covers.

till then!

Monday, September 14, 2009

a little advance press for this weekend's reading..

Plan B Press is returning to Wolfgang Books in Phoenixville, PA, I got interviewed briefly about the reading and a bit of history HERE. The photo credit goes to 3 year old Julia Jean May, her first.

The line up includes:
Chris Bullard, 2009 poetry chapbook contest winner
C L Bledsoe
Daniel Collins
Elizabeth Bodien
and possibly, Andrew Bradley

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

impending move

we are relocating to a house in the section of "Alexandria", VA just south of Rt. 395 (it's like calling Roxborough "Philly", ya know?)
we are moving in on Sept. 15,2009 and will be opening a PO Box around the same time. Once we have it, we will let you know our new Plan B Press address.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

another fore-parent of the work we are doing

Author Karla Kuskin dies

New York Times
Posted: 08/22/2009 07:06:07 PM PDT
Updated: 08/22/2009 08:50:36 PM PDT

Karla Kuskin, a noted children's author and illustrator whose work combined sly wit and propulsive vitality with deep thoughtfulness about the essential natures of people, animals and things, died Thursday at her home in Seattle. She was 77.
The cause was cortical basal ganglionic degeneration, a neurological disorder, her son, Nicholas Kuskin, said. A longtime Brooklyn resident, Kuskin had lived in Seattle in recent years.
The author or illustrator — often both at once — of more than 50 books for young people, Kuskin was known in particular for the volumes of rhymed verse she wrote and illustrated. They include "In the Middle of the Trees" (1958); "ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ" (1963); "The Rose on My Cake" (1964); and "Soap Soup and Other Verses" (1992).
Ideal for reading aloud, Kuskin's poems are known for their stealthy humor, deceptive simplicity and unforced though carefully worked-out rhymes. The listener is buoyed along on a flowing metrical current, as in this verse, from her collection "Near the Window Tree" (1975):
When a cat is asleep
There is nothing asleep
That is quite so asleep
As a cat.
She has finished with darting,
Careening and leaping
Now even the soft air around her is sleeping.
As a writer, Kuskin worked with some of the country's best-known artists. Among her most widely praised books are two she did with the noted illustrator Marc Simont, "The Philharmonic Gets Dressed" (1982) and "The Dallas Titans Get Ready for Bed" (1986).

In both books, Kuskin describes in spare, lyrical prose things that happen when we are not around to see them. In the first, members of a symphony orchestra prepare to go to work. In the second, football players divest themselves postgame of layer upon layer and then, looking "like small wet whales," shower.
Kuskin also collaborated with the American painter Milton Avery. Avery, who died in 1965, left behind a series of enigmatic paintings he had done to illustrate a children's story by a friend, the writer H.R. Hays. Deemed too expensive to produce, the project was abandoned, and Hays' original text was lost.
Karla Seidman was born in Manhattan on July 17, 1932, and reared mostly in Greenwich Village. She attended Antioch College before transferring to Yale, from which she received a bachelor's degree in 1955.
Her first book, "Roar and More" (1956), was born of her senior graphic-arts project at Yale, for which she had to design and print a book on a small press.
Kuskin's first marriage, to Charles M. Kuskin, ended in divorce; her second husband, William L. Bell, died in 2006. She is survived by two children from her first marriage, Nicholas, of Pelham, N.Y., and Julia Kuskin of Seattle; and three grandchildren.
Her other books include "Jerusalem, Shining Still" (1987; illustrated by David Frampton); "The Upstairs Cat" (1997; illustrated by Howard Fine), a verse parable about a long-running feline border dispute that emphasizes the futility of war; and "Moon, Have You Met My Mother? The Collected Poems of Karla Kuskin" (2003; illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier).

Not familiar with this person’s work, guess I have some research to do!

Friday, August 21, 2009

announcing our Fall 2009 line up

we are happy to announce our Fall 2009 releases :

Opening Up the Trees by Jason Venner
Wolf Spider by Michael Fisher
By a Different Ocean by Katy Whittingham

we are very excited about these books and more details will be following in short order.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

congrats go out to Elizabeth Bodien

We want to congratulate Elizabeth Bodien for winner the first annual Lehigh Valley Literary Award in poetry recently in Easton, PA. She won for her chapbook, Plumb Lines. So how does "award winning chapbook" and "award winning poet" sound?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

want to feel better? read a book

Want to Feel Better About Yourself? Read a Book!
According to the results of a survey from the Pepsi Optimism Project, Americans are optimistic—more optimistic, in fact, than they were back in November 2008. Specifically, the surveys shows that people become more optimistic about our personal relationships, health, finances, and overall well-being in the last seven months (although they're a bit less optimistic about their careers these days). What attracted our attention, though, was the sort of things that make people feel optimistic—and might just lift the spirits of those of us in the publishing industry, too.

While the official survey report zeroed in on the importance of a constellation live events like music concerts, theatrical performances, and speeches, the one "optimism booster" cited by more respondents than any other—88 percent—was "books." Unfortunately, that's not broken down by categories, so it's not quite clear whether fiction or non-fiction lifts people's spirits, so you should probably read a little of both, just to be on the safe side.

(Meanwhile, 56 percent of those surveyed say they feel optimistic after attending poetry readings, which was pleasantly surprising as we had not realized poetry readings were so popular—although clearly they should be!)

A few more data points, as long as we're here: Oddly enough, 96 percent of those surveyed expressed optimism about the shape of things to come, but only 25 percent had an upbeat perspective on the immediate future and the year ahead. And though more than two-thirds of the baby boomers, Gen-Xers, and millenials queried said they'd recently witnessed or participated in activities that made them feel optimistic, only 59 percent of those 63 or older would say the same. (Finally, less than a third of Americans, the survey adds, gain optimism from blogs—although, again, it was unclear whether that means reading blogs, writing them, or both.)

Posted by Ron Hogan

Summer In Session

While we are, for the most part, on a bit of a hiatus at the moment, we have been having sporadic bursts of activity; an email announcement here, a book release there. But in addition to that, Mr. President is also writing up important business paperwork, so we should be able to provide you with updates on that this autumn along with our newest releases.

We are gearing up for another jam-packed autumn, about 4 books slated. Plus we are planning on attending a few events as well, including a gig in Baltimore in September and an event at Wolfgang Books in Phoenixville, PA. If you are close to either of those locations, please stop by and check out our press. There will be a handful of our poets present to read, sign books, hobnob, etc. And sometimes, it's just good to put some faces with names, and voices with poems. Please check out our website's events calendar as details emerge.

Lately we've been posting news and Op-eds on publishing and poetry, with links to other sites. We find it's nice to bring a little outside world into our blog. Tell us what you think. Do you like these little blurbs or would you rather stick to PBP-centric stories only?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

we flutter, we twit

a few months ago, I set up a twitter account for myself /the Press/ an upcoming book of mine
under the name "bardwire"

the book is FAST WHITE

last night a good friend of mine from my undergrad daze at Temple University came to visit and challenged me to use Twitter for creative purposes, I said FINE

so I have. In addition to updating activities for the Press I will be composing work on Twitter and writing about what is likely to be seen as a "breakthrough" book, Fast White!!!

Friday, July 31, 2009

more reason to avoid Kindle

Amazon Sued Over Kindle Deletions

When you buy an actual BOOK, it is yours - it can not be deleted as an electronic file it is an actual physical thing. Any notations you make in your BOOK remain there as long as you keep that BOOK. Apparently, the same is not true of "reading devises". Expense little kink they need to fix, I believe. (it is not a book, it is not a book, it is not...)

have a great weekend!


Monday, July 20, 2009

new books are out

Chris Bullard You Must Not Know Too Much
Talia Weisz When Flying Over Water
Bob Marcacci a man floats

are all available now. The first printing of Bullard's book as his was our 2009 contest winner and he gets the lion's share to himself. He is reading tomorrow night in Philadelphia at the Fishtown poetry series with host Jim Mancinelli. The other two poets are currently traveling abroad so, they won't be reading in support of their books for a several more weeks. We will announce their availability to our mailing list contacts before general distribution. Look for it soon!

David Highsmith congregations is now at the printers. We anicipate it being available by the end of the month or early August at the latest.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Our Late Season: an Update

We are still in our spring season.

Yes, it's true.

This season keeps on going and going. We still have three more books in the works for the "spring": When Flying Over Water, You must not know too much (our 2009 chapbook contest winner), and congregations. When Flying Over Water is actually complete, so we're planning a release date for that. You must not know too much is at the printer, and congregations is nearing the end.

It's just been a long, long spring.

We are in the process of changing locations, I've had an employment shift lately, and we were stricken by massive computer problems that continue to plague us. It's been a really rough season overall. I am planning to have a light autumn consequently since we'll be getting a late start. Of course,... Steven will be weighing in on that I'm sure.

If we can get settled in to a new computer and new location soon, I anticipate our upcoming seasons to be more timely. Anticipate - not guarantee.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

a poem amidst the revolution (Iran)

my words could do no better, whoever you are, Ms. Iranian lady, be well.

Monday, June 22, 2009

News about Salt Publishing (UK)

The UK's largest independent poetry press, Salt Publishing, has staved off bankruptcy after appealing for help from its fans. Ten years old and the home of poets including the rising UK star Luke Kennard and award-winning Australian poet John Tranter, Salt last month found itself on the edge of a financial precipice. The effects of the recession - spring sales were down nearly 80% on the previous year - coupled with the end of its Arts Council funding, an enormous tax bill and a demand for payment from a major creditor meant it had a £55,000 budget deficit. "It was absolutely the end," says director Chris Hamilton-Emery. About to lose his home - Salt is a family business - he began cancelling the books Salt had lined up, but then he came up with a possible solution.

The Just One Book campaign, encouraging fans to buy one of Salt's 300-plus titles, started with a single post on Facebook, and quickly went viral, with Twitter, Facebook and hundreds of blogs all picking up on it. The orders started to rush in, and as of this week, Hamilton-Emery says the worst is - hopefully - past. "We've had more than 1,400 direct orders, worth £32,000, over the last four weeks, from Kazakhstan to South America. It's quite extraordinary, and very humbling."

I wanted to mention that two of the poets we have published have also been published by Salt. Anne Blonstein and James Thomas Stevens. I hope for the best for Salt.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


on their way from the printer is Talia Weisz "When Flying Over Water" and the first reprint of Francine Tolf Like Saul.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

green eggs and slam (but I don't like slam!)

Is Slam in Danger of Going Soft? as it appeared in New York Times.

For the record, I don't much like slam poetry nor Mr. Smith. Slam does not translate into a book. It's good on DVD perhaps, or a CD. But on the page? I can't think of a single book by a slam artist that has been successful. Okay, maybe Saul Williams. Okay, that's one. Capturing performance on the page is extremely difficult.

Friday, June 05, 2009

from the 2009 BookExpo, how to do everything wrong

Stupid Things Booksellers & Publishers do.

It's an ongoing situation, isn't it?

Monday, June 01, 2009

tension, reflex, release (why we print on paper)

Publishers Meet in New York, Going Paper-free

We read this and shake our heads. This is a Printing Press! Remember it!!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

we haven't reached the "bottom", yet!

Japanese author Koji Suzuki, of the 1998 Hollywood film "Ring," poses with toilet paper rolls printed with drawing of a ghost on them to promote the product in Fuji, central Japan, Saturday, May 23, 2009. The product, dubbed "Japan's scariest toilet paper," carries Suzuki's latest horror story "Drop" for release next month. The toilet paper roll would be "a horror experience in the toilet," manufacturer said. (AP)

Okay, we hadn't thought to go there yet. Perhaps we might have come to this eventually. There is no line between advertising and product "placement" anymore. Everything goes - everywhere!!!
Reminds me of something, say.....

Friday, May 29, 2009

Economics of Poetry

I was sent this NPR article this morning on the business of poetry:

Large publishers have been hit hard by the recession... But one corner of the publishing world has its own strange economy. Poets and those who publish them are used to earning next to nothing for their work... For editors like Bob Hershon, poetry is also a labor of love. His Hanging Loose Press advances poets the money they need to print and bind their volumes. Poets try to recoup that cost by doing readings and coaxing friends to buy their books. Hershon says his friends in commercial publishing are losing their jobs. "But we can't be out of work because we don't take any salaries," he says. "We're nuts, but my co-editors and I work out of our hip pockets.

This sounds eeerily familiar to me.When we took over the press in 2003, my meagre "real job" income was not only supporting us, it was the life support for the press. We considered it a triumph in 2005 when the press was actually supporting itself. There was even a moment when we were almost thinking that one of us might one day be monetarily compensated for our work. But that moment passed and we returned to our routine.

In the six years that I have been co-running Plan B Press, I haven't been paid a dime. I get thank you's and compliments, which are much appreciated, but the possibility of a salary somehow escapes me. When we receive inquiries from graphic designers looking for a job, it makes me chuckle a bit. They never mention the phrase pro bono, nor would expect to see it. But in a business as small as ours, if the only two current employees aren't getting paid, neither would any additional staff. Small arts organizations thrive on volunteers. Without volunteers, many small businesses would crumble.

Running a poetry press is a labor of love. It certainly isn't a money making venture. We can all agree with the NPR article- poetry is recession-proof. As Bob Dylan famously sang: When you got nothin', you got nothin' to lose.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Update on Book Schedule 5/28/09

Moving along at,…well not breakneck speed, but we’ve completed all but one book, and the layout on that one is nearly finished. Ever since getting our computer back from the shop it’s been coming and going, freezing when overtaxed (every 45 minutes or so). I’m growing frustrated with the whole thing. Is it the RAM? It’s all Apple-origin! I just don’t know.
We anticipate Talia Weisz’s book going to the printer on Friday. Bob Marcacci’s book should be back any day now. And the proof for congregations should be with the author soon, once we can get a contract together.

So we’re swimming along nicely.

I will be cutting airplanes out of paper this weekend. At least I won’t be relying on our computer.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

ripples across the pond in Philly (2)

also wanted to mention that Plan B Press poet ryan eckes is the host and curator of the Chapterhouse Reading Series in Philadelphia.

Monday, May 25, 2009

ripples across the pond in Philly

A handful of years ago now, after I stopped hosted the Eternal NOW! poetry series at Robin's Bookstore in Philadelphia, I was discussing the next evolution (as I saw it) in poetry reading presentation with Michele Belluomini and Jim Mancinelli. We all agreed that having poets in art galleries would be an ideal situation.

It took years for the timing to work out but Jim happened into a good situation at Fishtown Airways Gallery where he began curating a poetry series in April 2009 with Plan B Press poets Ryan Eckes and Michele Belluomini. Here's a note from Jim pertaining to his new series :

The Fishtown Airways Poetry Series

LOCATION: Fishtown Airways Gallery
200 E. Girard Ave. (2 blocks from the Girard Ave. El stop)
Philadelphia, PA 19125
WHEN: The 3rd Tuesday of every month (except August)

May 19 JC Todd & Catherine Staples
June 16 Mel Brake & G. Emil Reutter
July 21 Jim Mancinelli & Christian Bullard (winner of the 2009 Plan B Press poetry chapbook contest)
August 18 NO READING
September 15 Liz Abrams-Morley & Courtney Bambrick
October 20 Leonard Gontarek & Samantha Barrow
November 17 Jim Cory & Dan Maguire
December 15 Acoustic guitar virtuoso An Evening with David Falcone
(A FAPS Free event!)

This is a new reading series that will take place on the 3rd Tuesday of
the month. There will be a hiatus for the month of August. The Fishtown
Airways Art Gallery is at the corner of Shackamaxon and Girard, in the
“Riverside” section of Fishtown. The exact address is 200 E. Girard Ave.
and it is two blocks from the Girard Ave. el stop. This is a newly
renovated space and is perfectly designed for readings. The format will
include two featured poets, each having 20-30 minutes, with a break in
between each poet. The last poet will be followed by an open reading
where a participant can read one long piece or two short pieces. I will
moderate the series.

Jim Mancinelli

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

News of our poets

Elizabeth Bodien reports that Plumb Lines is a finalist for the first ever Poetry Award that will be given by the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group. The winner will be announced at a dinner in late July. Congrats in advance to Elizabeth.

Dan Maguire's Finding the Words is going into it's 3rd printing since Nov. 2008.

Ryan Eckes' when i come here is also going into it's 3rd printing.

Jim Mancinelli continues to host and curate the Fishtown Airways Poetry Series, Fishtown Airways Art Gallery, 200 E. Girard Ave. (Philly) If you are interested in reading for his series, please send him an email.

Deborah Filanowski is busily planning for the next poetry festival to occur at Stonehedge in Tamaqua, PA this July. Details to follow.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Loving and Hating Apple

For two days I had been trying to telephone our Apple store to find out how our computer repair was going. Busy signals. beep - beep -beep... Since I had been told that they anticipated the part coming in on Tuesday, I figured Tuesday night would be a reasonable update day. Busy signal. How about Wednesday? Busy signal. Off to the Apple store we drove on Wednesday night. I made my way back to the Genius Bar where a perky concierge greeted me. I asked for a status update and she went into the back room to ask around. Meanwhile Steve and the kids are browsing laptops and walking loops in the stroller.

A few minutes later, Perky Concierge comes back to inform me (wearing her best saddened newscaster face) that the part hasn't come in yet. Then she smiles. This isn't smiling time. This is commiserating time. I've been without a computer for nearly two weeks now and she's smiling at me. No - beaming at me.

I knot my brow. "Well, when do you think you'll get the part?" Perky shrugs... and smiles. This is not an oopsie moment, Perky! Then she suggests that I call back for an update on Friday, adding that she hopes the phones are working by then. Friday? Call back Friday? Perky has no idea at all when the part will come in or when it will be installed or when the tests will be run. She's a concierge, a salesperson essentially. I understand that. I'm not expecting the world here.

I had been very happy with Apple's support up until recently. When everything seems to have died in my Mac all at once, all of the tech people I dealt with were responsive and provided updates, walking me through the process. Unfortunately, It seems that the Apply Way is to fix parts one at a time, and every part that is in my computer seems to need to be special ordered. If Mac Stores are many Apple users' lifeline for technical problems, you would think that they would carry some parts. I guess they only keep parts for their newest gadgets... you know, the ones that probably aren't breaking down yet.

I met Steve in the doorway and broke the bad news. He shouts, "What the fuck!" I suggest to him that we just leave before he screams at one of the employees. We walk out the door with our kids, the smoke curling off of Steve's head. Perky Concierge II smiles and waves, "Have a good night, guys!"

This is not a good night, Perky.

You are not Mary Tyler Moore, turning the world on with your smile.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Technical Difficulties III

Our little computer is back at the shop as of Sunday morning. It is supposed to be back today, but I've given up plotting a timeline. Needless to say, our entire book production is on hold.

A third printing of Ryan Eckes' book "when i come here" was sent off to the printer on Saturday before our computer decided to freeze on us again. But we haven't been able to make any progress on our spring season books. Luckily, now that the corrected proof is back, Bob Marcacci's "a man floats" should be heading to the printer once we make those edits.

We also bought hand made paper this weekend for Talia Weisz's "When Flying Over Water". And Steve and I were discussing cover ideas for "Congregations". We need to start on the contest winner's book too. But this will all come after we get our little metal dynamo back from Apple. We plan to purchase a laptop soon after so that we can prevent this supreme amount of downtime in the fture.

The upside: all contest winner responses have been sent; and we're spending more time discussing the future of the press, projects, and incorporation details.

Stay tuned...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Technical Difficulties: Update

As we are computer-less at the moment, it's amazing how little we can actually accomplish.

1) No proofs to authors. (in fact no progress on layouts or covers either)
2) No blog posting or website updates
3) No typed correspondence or purchase orders possible

We're back to pen and paper on everything. It's nice in a way to focus on other things. Our trusty Editor is writing responses very quickly on contest entrants now that he is is disconnected from the internet.

The library has proven itself to be a very helpful stopgap. It is free and accessible, but you are booted off after 30 minutes. No questions. No exceptions. Also apparently it's acceptable to talk loudly in a library if you are at the computer terminals. This is news to me. I thought there was still the Quiet Rule in effect at libraries, except for the kids' section where the occupants are literally incapable of staying quiet- especially around others.

So the computer is still at the shop, but we hope to be back up tonight or tomorrow, but I won't place any bets. It is Friday afterall and we're still in a blackout.

Thanks again for your patience.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Technical Difficulties

Well, our Macintosh just died on Sunday. The power supply is kaput. So our local Apple store has ordered the part and should have the working CPU back to us at some point between Wednesday and Friday hopefully.

Unfortunately this means that we're a bit out of commission on orders and general correspondence; although we are doing our best to address thing on a delay. Basically we ask that you be patient with us until we are back on track.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

and we have a winner.....

the winner of the 2009 Plan B Press chapbook contest is -

You Must Not Know Too Much by Chris Bullard (Collingswood, NJ)

congrats to Chris and all the wonderful submissions we received this year!

Thursday, April 02, 2009

updating the contest

2009 seems to have been a stellar year for the submissions to our contest. The readers are beside themselves dealing with so many fantastic manuscripts. Congrats to all who have participated, you will all be notified once the judge makes her decision. I daresay that her job this year will be wonderfully difficult

(better her than I)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Paying for Information, Literature and Art

So I heard that will start charging a fee soon to view content. As someone who likes to have access to online news, my first reaction, obviously, is to say, "No." However, my rational side quickly steps in, thankfully I have one, and thinks it over a bit.

As a current, yet reluctant, resident of northern Virginia, my local newspaper is the Washington Post. I have never read a Virginia newspaper. There ARE local papers, super local, but nothing close to WaPo. WaPo recently raised its prices. I was a bit stunned to see the daily paper price double. Usually I read the online version. It's the most up to date, I can see older stories that I may have missed from previous days, and there are more interactive features, like chats and polls that would be missed in the paper format. But the paper format still has an allure. I tend to read more of the paper, taking in stories that I might otherwise skip. I can also carry it with me and read it while commuting.

When I was living in Philadelphia, we subscribed to the Inky. That is, until our newspaper deliverer broke one of our front door windows with a particularly fierce throw. Sunday newspapers are heavy, but not THAT heavy. We had a brief subscription to the daily paper, but we could never seem to read it every day. The papers would stack up and by the end of the week we would be recycling whole sections that we had never even gotten to, or conversely we would try to soak up stories that were irrelevant, like theater reviews for shows that had closed or community meetings that were scheduled for yesterday.

I also never really understood the point of having a Daily News and a Philadelphia Inquirer. I realize that the Daily News is more blue collar and the Inky more blue blood. But couldn't the two be combined? OR another thought. WaPo has a free daily version available at train stations and some bus stops called "Express" and it runs pieces that reference stories that are in its mother paper. Kind of an 'if you like THAT, than try THIS!" kind of thing. Philadelphia already has the Metro newspaper, but competition couldn't hurt.'s website is a lot better than it was and I think that it provides a useful resource. However, it's odd that there is a main page, then links to the two completely, utterly, different websites of the sister papers: Inky and Daily News. And the kicker for me? The cover story for is not the same as either of the cover stories for the papers. (sigh)

But the content of these news sources, no matter how fragmented, is still valuable. Philadelphia papers have talented writers, and there is a lot going on culturally, artistically and politically in Philadelphia. There should be a wealth of material. We should be willing to pay for that. But it is about priorities and mindset. Some folks are willing to put down $12 for a sandwich at lunch, but are reluctant to buy an independently made product, like a piece of art, a book, or a performance. These experiences, tangible or not, will last your whole life,.. unlike that sandwich. Paying for your local information, although not as tangible and not as impressionable as more artistic pieces, is also something that shapes you and provides something meaningful. It is a resource. You really do appreciate something more if you pay for it yourself, like a car when you're a teenager or the first clothes you buy for yourself. But can get enough people who are willing to pay for it? I just don't know.

Like a subscription to any other website, such as e-mail, Flickr, etc. it's a matter of priorities. In economically difficult times, it may be hard to warrant a subscription to an online newspaper, a book purchase, or a ticket to a performance, but it can be food for the soul. And we all make choices every day about where our money is going.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Spring 2009 In Progress

We are laying out our three books for 2009. Two proofs are already completed. Printer quotes need to be gotten. Covers need to be thought out. The anthologies that will be available to the public probably won't go up until this summer. I plan to release them as a unified bunch. We plan to be moving this summer as well, so there will be a bit of upheaval again, but we will spread the word as much as we can.

One of our earlier authors, Jim Mancinelli is starting a reading series in the Fishtown neighborhood of Phladelphia beginning on the first Friday of April. Our website has details. Two of the first night's guest poets are also former Plan B Pressers: Michele Belluomini and Ryan Eckes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

our sisyphus moment

I reach for an empty mug of coffee, awake since the kids stirred at 5 AM. Hours of whoosh pass, Katy off to work and the kids now napping. I reach for an empty mug of coffee. And stare at our running man. The running man. He is in constant motion, He's a kindred of the White Rabbit in the Alice in Wonderland stories. He a blur of activity. An outlined image - a swirl of light.

And every day he runs up the hill (to paraphrase Kate Bush), trying to scale the peaks. Trying to launch himself into space. Forever young and jubilant. Forever rushing - likely in too many directions at once. Forever, like Sisyphus, trying to do the heroic and impossible simultaneously.

It's hard to be the running man, running with a briefcase full of dreams, in front of or against his shadow. And yet, our logo does define us quite accurately. Constantly in motion, in full sprint. Gripping our briefcase tightly. Mad as a hatter. And grinning ear to ear, just thankful to being ALIVE and able to pursue our goals, however often they may change.

But they don't really change; our lives have. Katy and mine. We have added "parent" titles to Co-founder and Editor, and Creative Director. It's a different thing, certainly. My attention, which is well known for it's shortness, has gotten shorter. My energy levels are through the roof. I am ready to roar (we saw lions at the Zoo over the weekend, they were noisy)

It's springtime and we are ready to ZOOM!!!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Meeting Time!

We had our first official meeting in months yesterday. It was actually warm weather the last time it happened. We've been managing fairly well in spite of this, but... signals were getting crossed, assumptions were being made, and we didn't have time to really regroup.

So we discussed our spring lineup, plotted what paperwork we need to get in, who needs to be contacted, and what quotes we need to send to our printer. The last of the submissions are trickling in, as I mentioned in the last post, but those should be on their way to judgedom soon. We all have checklists of what needs to get done. Now we just need to actually do it.

Sometimes all it takes is a good meeting to actually discuss the current needs, issues and successes to figure out what you need to do. We're notfans of beurocracy so we don't use the official meeting format, whetever it's called., Roberts' Rules of Order or something?... I could Google it, but I don't feel like it. And as you can see, we don't meet often and talk about "synergy," "thinking outside the box," "no I in Team" or any other of those meettings-from-hell catchwords and phrases.

It was good and I hope it reflects in how our spring season runs. We'll see....

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Considering your Book/Contest Submission

The contest has now ended and we will be reviewing and sorting the manuscripts, setting them up to be judged. Once we receive the results we will create the book and and announce the winner online.

For those of you that decided not to submit to the contest but would like to submit your manuscript to us (please give us a few months) or to another press, please consider the following before clipping the papers together and signing your name in the introductory letter.

1) Does it seem like a collection? Is it a unified vision?

2) What do you want it to look like? How does the text look and what about the cover?

3) What would your dream book look like? ...aside from having a "New York Times' Bestseller" label on the front cover.

4) What will separate your book from someone else's on the same shelf at the bookstore? (the answer is not, "my genius writing style and clever wordplay" although I'm sure it's true.) What would make someone pick your book up over another?

Please consider these things before putting that manuscript in the mail. It will give your book much more clarity whether you submit it to us or any other press. In the meantime, we'll keep you informed of the contest's whereabouts.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Contest Still Open

We seem to have been on a bit of a posting hiatus lately, but we're back!

Our poetry chapbook contest is still open. Details. We've received dozens of entries so far and are purging them of identifiers for our readers, and piling them up. Everyone who has submitted to the contest so far seems to have followed our guidelines. I only want to mention three things, though.

1) this is a chapbook contest, so keep the collection short

2) it helps if you actually give your collection some sort of thought. Throwing some poems together and not titling it makes it seem like you have not put much effort into it - as a collection.

3) remember who you are sending the collection to. Don't call us by a different company name or write the wrong title of the collection on your introductory letter.

Aside from that, keep the submissions coming. We appreciate a challenge. The better the writing, the more difficult the decision.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Spring cleaning in the brain

One of our daily press priorities is upkeeping our web presence. Whether it's working on the website, updating our blog, maintaining our social networking sites,or searching the website for other opportunities, we frequent the internet. It can be at the expense of other tasks, depending on what needs to be done. And it always comes at the expense of our own creative outlet. I can manage to work for an hour or two every few weekends. But more often than not, it's clic clic clic-di di di- cli cli, keyboard tapping for the press.

As a trained visual artist I can work in a number of media, but I often resort to collage because it's portable, fast, and doesn't need to dry. I used to paint fairly often; I haven't in three years. I used to draw, weekly at least; now twice a year is a good record for me. It's all pretty much been replaced by drag-and-drop and clic clic clic.

The point of all this is that it's good once in a while to return to an old-used method. Step away from the computer and television screen. I know it can be distracting to have no distractions, but do it anyway. Now, just spend some time with yourself, even if you don't actually make anything new. You need to have some alone time, unplugged from the internet world.

I'm no Ted Kaczynski. I think that the computer can be very useful.

Yesterday while waiting at the bus, I was listening to a little girl try to recall the names of Santa's reindeer with her dad. She couldn't think of them all. She avowed, "when I get home I'm gonna type into the computer 'Santa's reindeer names' and see what they are.'" It's a handy thing, the internet. But it can be white noise too.

So spend some time with a pen. Focus on your own mental distractions for an hour or two. It's refreshing and it's good for your work and yourself.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

this is the sort of project we seek

Katy made this small "art book" a few years ago, and Tom Tavenner put it up as a flipbook, it's the sort of project that we seek as a Press. Katy's little book

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Into the home stretch

It's almost mid-February and we are rounding the final turn, heading into the home stretch for our 2009 poetry chapbook contest. It's exciting for us as we will soon be publishing yet another NEW book (which we thrive to do). I am one of the readers but as this is a blind submission process, only Kate (the non-poet) actually sees all the raw submissions before dividing up the stacks and sending them off to our various readers, who then send their favorites to our JUDGE. This year that would be Deborah Ager of 32 poems magazine.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Something we aren't (a POD)

Someone sent me an article from a recent Time magazine on this subject and here's a similar article from the New York Times both dealing with the multilayered subjects of self-publishing, audience development, distribution, publicity, etc. The whole range of issues that is connected to "Print-On-Demand" publishing. I will state again, I am not for it. Never have been. It's vanity press publishing - all done electronically, like that makes a difference.

It doesn't. I was reading something in a book over the past year and wrote a note to myself which said "just because someone has published a book doesn't mean they should, nor does it obligate people to read it". And THAT truth is not much discussed when reporters write about this "brave new world" of publishing. Publishing crap doesn't make the thing smell better nor somehow make it readable when it may clearly may not be. There's this weird little concept I truly believe in called "EDITORIAL CONTROL". Silly me, I thought part of the job of a publisher was to weed out junk. To prevent garbage from being published. Wow, geesh, that seems to have fallen by the wayside.

To what end? More garbage that no one wants to read - or doesn't have time to read - on top of the mountain of books published each year by established publishing companies, and mid-level, hello people, there's a GLUT of books out there and only so many hours in a day to read....we can not live on reading alone. People need to work at jobs to afford to buy these books, or e-books, and if we continue to publish complete garbage simply because WE CAN that isn't going to lead to more readers, but fewer. People will continue to cut back on their reading to watch TV or play video-games, or watch films in surround sound in their living rooms. We are affecting our own demise. There is no one to blame for this glut of garbage than the publishers or self-publishers of said garbage.

Plan B Press has always been careful about our numbers, our authors, and our books. We are mindful that books of poetry, and that's most of what we publish, is not a necessity. It might be food for the soul but it doesn't compare with the sagging economy and the endless purging of jobs that is happening in the United States right now. Besides, we like our running man icon enough to want only a certain aesthetic or quality to be associated with it. Again, silly us, how can we possibly survive? Well, it's important to have principles and to stick to them. Have fewer books come out each season instead of just pumping out material, if you will, because that's "how it's done". Yeah, that's been how it has been done and the companies that have done that since the 1920's and 1930's are the same ones that are dumping employees and cutting back on the number of books that they are buying these days. The model of "how things work" doesn't work. But, I would and do argue, that doesn't mean that PODs are the answer.

One thing that supporters of POD publishing don't discuss is the imperfect quality of each book. I have seen enough POD books to know that they all look alike. They are produced, by machine, with little to no human oversight. They are stylistically laid out the same, same paper stock, same bar code inside the last page. It's an elaborate cookie cutter technology applied to publishing. Since the books are published after or at the point of sale, there is no guaranteed that any two books will look identical. YES, it avoids closets full of unsold books. Indeed so. But those unsold books in a closet printed by humans are at least printed at the same time and using the same paperstock and are, well, identical.

As a publisher who has been fortunate enough to have worked with the same printers for a half dozen years, I know their operation. I know the limitations of their equipment. I know what they CAN do. They make suggestions about problems we present to them and because each of our 'projects' are unique, we are always presenting them with problems. See, we want each book that we publish to be special, unique, and well, 'novel'. A machine can only do so much, it's programmable to do X or Y. That's how I can spot a POD so quickly. They look like a Print-on-Demand. (That's not a compliment, in case you are curious).

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Old Season/New Season

As I complete the last anthologies for authors and plan to create the limited number of for-sale anthologies, we have begun reviewing manuscripts that have been sent in of late and we have selected a mere 2-3 for this spring. Submissions to our poetry chapbook contest are growing in number (yay!) but we still have another month to go. So Spring 2009 is looking good. When we decide on our spring selections we will post them and give updates on their progress.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

thoughts on a snowy day

john updike 1932-2009
My wife tasked me to write in the blog today, and I sat down uncertain what to write about - when I saw a breaking news story that John Updike died today at age 76.

Updike grew up about 12 miles from the town where I lived and I was keenly aware of him and his achievements since he was one of the most successful writers to emerge from Berks County, PA (along with Wallace Stevens who was also born in Reading, PA). In the heady lead up to the first Bardfest and the creation of Plan B Press back in 1999, one of the locations where poets met and read to each other was a used bookstore on the main street of Shillington, a shop called Tattered Pages. The owner of Tattered Pages has a small shrine to John Updike there by the counter with photos and many of his books in first edition Hard Bound. We would admire these books behind glass and then huddle to read our poems. Few if any mentioned John Updike at all in their work.

Like any number of artists who leave their birth town or community for success in the wider world, Shillington is where Updike was "from". In the same was the small community of Leola, PA is technically where Plan B Press is "from" as well. It was the initial heavy lifting by co-founder Dianne Miller that brought the idea of a press into the reality of this Press. The Press has evolved into a publisher of talent from across the country and parts of Europe.

Tattered Pages folded a few years ago, and now the subject of their worship has also moved into the reeds. Things change, life goes on. John Updike had written more than 50 books. PLUS all those stories in The New Yorker. He had an incredible output of work, and among them, it should be noted, was The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures (1958), which was of course a book of poetry. Updike began as a published poet!

Here's to your spirit, Mr. Updike, may the divine have a writing table ready for you upon arrival.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Rhyme Repertoire

As my two year old daughter learns "I'm a little teapot short and stout. Here is my handle, here is my spout…" I encourage all poets out there to stretch yourselves beyond rhymes such as sad/mad, love/above, (word)-tion/(word)-tion.

Surprise us all!

Monday, January 19, 2009

freshly out - Like Saul by Francine Tolf

We are proud to announce the latest Plan B Press book, Like Saul, by Francine Tolf. The book is freshly out and available to the general public. Here's the link the webpage for her book Like Saul.

Thanks for your continuing support of Plan B Press!

NEXT UP: SPRING 2009 season!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Projects, Including the Contest

We have a number of new projects coming up in 2009. Often I am unaware of the books we are publishing until the manuscripts are handed to me to lay out for the printer. This can be tricky when the book has zero visuality and I'm asked to provide a creative angle to it. hmmmm.

So whereas know that we have 2-4 projects lined up for the Spring (on top of the contest) I really don't know what they are yet. If I did I would let you know.

How is that for an uninformative post?

I believe the Sandy Crimmins First Book Award will be pushed to the Fall. simply because we have not focused on the publicity for it yet and it deserves some real attention that can not be given when we are working on our annual chapbook contest.

Our winners are always pleased with the books we come up with. There have been some less than stellar experiences with winners simply because they didn't put faith in our ability to produce a nice book, but the end product proved them wrong. I don't understand why you would pay to enter a book contest if you didn't think the publisher would do a good job with your book, but I'm not an author so perhaps I just don't understand.

To those of you entering our contest, best f luck to you, give me something good, and -yes- we DO make beautiful books.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

2009 poetry chapbook contest

In case you have missed this, the 2009 poetry chapbook contest is underway. The prize is $225.00 plus 50 copies. Our judge is Deborah Ager of 32 poems magazine. Deadline is March 1, 2009. Full details at

2009 chapbook contest

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Have a Facebook account? Become a fan of ours!!

We will start posting author events and book releases on our Plan B Press Facebook page in the coming months, so stay tuned.

Plan B Press on Facebook.

*cough* We're Back! *cough*

The Plan B Press crew has gotten collectively ill again. We rang in the new year with sniffles and hacking coughs. It is a cold that is fighting the good fight. Ten days later and it is JUST going away. So, as we slip back into our normal routine and collect ourselves up off the floor, we return to our usual scheduled programming.

I bring you the following updates:
1) Like Saul by Francine Tolf: is at the printer . Inside is printed, covers are being worked on now.

2) Dan Maguire's web page is up and running and his book is available. It is selling very well so far. We're not too surprised as it's a nice collection.

3) oh, anthology! The interiors are printed for all remaining poets (honest!) I've begun painting the covers. I plan to trim, staple, and bind the books this weekend. Perhaps after I get off line.