Tuesday, May 21, 2013

"YOU: THE ADVENTUROUS READER..." Join Keith Ekiss in supporting Tavern Books during our mid-year fundraising campaign.

Hardcover editions of this year's new titles.
We're excited to announce our 2013 mid-year fundraising campaign! Starting today, we are reaching out to our readers for support in our mission to publish essential works of poetry from around the world. Our goal is to raise $25,000 during this giving campaign, and we're confident that we can do it. Reaching this goal is easier than it might sound: if all of our readers make a tax-deductible donation between $10 and $25, not only will we reach this goal, we will exceed it. Your donation will be used to help fund these forthcoming titles in beautifully designed paperback and hardcover editions: Winterward by William Stafford; Duino Elegies by Rainer Maria Rilke (translated by Gary Miranda); Fire Water World & Among the Dog Eaters by Adrian C. Louis; Collected Translations by David Wevill; My Blue Piano by Else Lasker-Schüler (translated by Eavan Boland); and Skin by Tone Škrjanec (translated by Matthew Rohrer and Ana Pepelnik).

Tavern Books author Keith Ekiss has written a personal plea (below) on our behalf. Keith, along with Sonia P. Ticas and Mauricio Espinoza, is currently at work on a four-volume edition of Eunice Odio’s epic masterpiece, The Fire’s Journey. Please join Keith in helping make this campaign a success.

. . .

Dear Reader,

I’m writing to you with a simple request: please donate to Tavern Books and buy a book or two today.

Why? Because in an era of corporate publishing, when financial pressures force small, independent publishers to put the bottom line above art, Tavern Books has taken a stand.

Tavern Books has a vision, and they need your support.

The Fire’s Journey, my translation of the amazing Costa Rican poet Eunice Odio, wouldn’t exist without Tavern’s vision and you: the adventurous reader. Tavern will publish the entirety of this 450-page epic poem over four volumes. No other publisher would take that risk.

Tavern specializes in rescuing deserving poetry from oblivion, returning to print contemporary masterpieces like Killarney Clary’s Who Whispered Near Me and W. S. Di Piero’s translation of Leonardo Sinisgalli’s Night of Shooting Stars. Tavern publishes the work of poets we should never forget, like Greta Wrolstad, Jo McDougall, and David Wevill.

Tavern Books is good for you and good for your soul.

Remember: no one cares what a web page smells like or how it feels to hold a laptop. We remember books. And Tavern Books makes beautiful books.

I’m proud to have given during this fundraising campaign. I hope you will join me.


Keith Ekiss

. . .

Donate through our support page

CHEERS! And thank you for your faith in the book.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

What's New with Poetry State?

Two weeks from today, the Tavern Books team will take a road trip to Grand Ronde, Oregon to accept a generous grant from the Spirit Mountain Community Fund. With the grant, we'll be launching a new phase of Poetry State, our book donation drive for Oregon libraries.

Last year, we had the pleasure of donating over 2,500 poetry titles to libraries serving rural and Tribal populations across Oregon, as well as to innovative local book lending services like the Multnomah County Library Jails Program, the Multnomah County Shelter Program, and Street Books. In some cases, we've been able to double the number of poetry titles on their shelves! But because we don't have control over the contents of our stock (all books are given to us by publishing companies, book stores, and an incredible pool of individuals), we haven't yet been able to take requests for specific titles. We were inspired to start purchasing book stock after consistently receiving requests from librarians and program directors for a wide range of material: everything from anthologies of Native American spiritual poetry to foreign language and bilingual works to the collected works of poets like Lucille Clifton, Jack Prelutsky, and Emily Dickinson.

Now, for the first time since Poetry State's inception, we'll be able to purchase brand new, customized poetry collections for 12 of our partner libraries based on the specific requests of librarians and patrons. We couldn't be more excited, and we're grateful to the Spirit Mountain Community Fund and all Tavern Books supporters for helping us to make it happen! Check back often for ongoing updates on this new phase of Poetry State and for profiles of our partner libraries.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Basil Bunting, lost love, and advocacy

Part of our excitement every day at Tavern Books has to do with the work of bringing out-of-print books back into a living catalog. Publishers have the great responsibility—and the great luck—to serve as advocates for writers, and in our case that means attempting to reintroduce important, loved poets who have gone under-represented. This week, I've been listening to an LP of Basil Bunting reading his long poem “Briggflatts” and thinking about the history of a tremendous poet who was little known for the majority of his life. As the story goes, what slight recognition Bunting garnered as a young poet (including the admiration and very public support of Ezra Pound) couldn't withstand his long service to the British Military during and following World War II; when he returned to his native Newcastle in his fifties, he suffered a long period of painful poverty and obscurity. But helped by the fierce advocacy of a group of young writers who were in awe of his poetry, he was able to gain a public presence very late in life. At the helm of this group was the rogue adolescent poet Tom Pickard, who organized readings for Bunting in Newcastle and promoted his work to publishers like Fulcrum Press. It was during this second wind, at the age of sixty-four, that Bunting began his masterpiece “Briggflatts”—an intensely musical and guttural autobiographical poem about a lost love from his youth. To think: one of the first things he did after being rediscovered was to recover for the world something else that had been lost! What strikes me most when reading it, and especially when hearing Bunting read it on the recording, is that the very precise and real object of love at the center of the poem seems almost equally weighted with the beautiful, boggy layers of personal, local, and national history; regional mythology; and literary tradition that unfold around her. It's as if when Bunting resurrected his lost love, he couldn't help but dredge up all kinds of cultural debris with her. With any hope, that's the kind of dredging-up that we—the reading public, writers, literary advocates, and publishers—can accomplish when we help usher a forgotten but loved poet back into a catalog.

--Natalie Garyet

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Split editions

This Friday, a freight company will deliver two pallets of our new titles to the office. These are the first titles that we're printing as split editions (simultaneous hardcover and paperback printings). From here on out, we're printing all full-length collections in split editions. There's a reason why publishers seldom publish hardcovers--they're blazingly expensive to print, heavy, cost more to ship, require additional design and layout . . . etc. But, there's just something about a hardcover that announces itself as an artwork with a lasting depth, especially when it's offset printed and well designed. You can't fault the "paperback original," nor can you fault publishers that choose print-on-demand and short-run-digital printing options over offset printing (SALT is a great example--they publish a host of deeply talented authors and are able to do so through inexpensive digital printing). It's true, you have to publish fewer authors per year in order to publish books in hardcover--and it hurts. But, tonight, looking at some of my favorite books, I was reminded why it's essential to print hardcover editions. I pulled one of my prized books down, The Man with the Blue Guitar by Wallace Stevens. I'm very lucky to have a rare first printing of the first edition of this book (a gift from another poet), which is a stunning hardcover edition with a very understated dust jacket. The end sheets, pictured above, are strikingly designed (utilitarian and lyrical), and they have a startling texture that is difficult to describe. They nearly feel like pool-table felt. They are alive. 

Michael McGriff

Aesthetically Pleasing Books

Aesthetically Pleasing Books

Marilyn Hacker translates from the French into English; that’s really nice of her. There are many French poets, now and from long ago, I and others can’t read because we don’t know French. We love poems, yet there are certain poems we can’t know. In the introduction to Vénus Khoury-Ghata book Nettles (Graywolf, 2008), Marilyn Hacker mentions that Vénus says: “My mother is illiterate in two languages.” I don’t want to even think about the languages I’m illiterate in! I’m just thankful people translate work they find important. Although, I don’t want to talk about translation here, and how things are lost, and how the original is so much better, because, basically, poems translated into English have moved me, have mattered, and have inspired me in the same fashion poems written in English have. There are only things to be gained! Translations are little windows overlooking a culture or a time where there was once no window. What I want to talk about here is far less important. I want to talk about books I can’t read, books I have purchased out of the sheer love of design, in languages I don’t understand. Maybe you, too, have done this? Maybe you have bought a book for its foxing, or for the way it smells, or because the sides of the pages are blue, regardless of how you are going to comprehend its meaning. Sometimes, I flip through their pages and (because I can’t read them) I stare at a poem as if it were a photograph in a collection of black and white photography, an abstract print that relates some obscure emotion through light and composition.

Carl Adamshick

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Amanda Coplin, The Honest Pint, and good mail

Friend of Tavern Books, poetry advocate, and Portlander Amanda Coplin has recently published the critically acclaimed novel The Orchardist (Harper Collins, 2012). The Orchardist, which is forthcoming in numerous translated editions around the world, has been garnering unabashed praise from The Daily Beast, NPR, and The New York Times Book Review (just to name a few). We'd like to congratulate Amanda on being a finalist for the 2012 Barnes and Noble Discover Award for Fiction. This recent news has our office abuzz.

In the coming months, Coplin will be a contributing author in our Honest Pint series (more info on the Pint here). For those who haven't encountered her prose, you're in for a treat.

The Honest Pint has taken off, and we couldn't be happier with its trajectory. We're delighted by the Pint's growing subscription list, and we feel its diverse readership reflects the scope of this series. We want the collective Honest Pint publications to truly reflect the way writers interact with poetry; we want a literary venue free of partisan aesthetics, fenced-in ideas, and school-of-thought attitudes; we want to explore a landscape of poetics where Bob Kaufman passes the salt to Theocritus. We have forthcoming Pints written by novelists, film critics, poets, philosophers, story writers, and instillation artists. The subjects of these Pints range from the Concrete poems of Ian Hamilton Finlay to the epics of Robinson Jeffers to the lyric connection between Andrei and Arseny Tarkovsky. Our ultimate goal with the Honest Pint is to collect each of these individual pieces into a grand, sweeping, quirky, and refreshing anthology of poetics...and we couldn't be more pleased with how things have started out.

Since our first Honest Pint mail-out in January (Albert Goldbarth's meditation on the 17th-century poet Margaret Cavendish, Ray Palmer, and the metaphors of 'smallness'), we've been getting emails from subscribers thanking us for doing something different, something new, something outside the halls of institutional thinking. It's not every day that you get an actual art object in the mail that hovers somewhere between the realm of pamphlet and fine printing, between scholarship and whimsey, between writer and reader. Thanks to all of you who have subscribed! We can't wait to send you the next installation.

Happy reading, and here's to another good mail day!

Michael McGriff

Thanks, Paulann!

Paulann Petersen, Portlander and Oregon Poet Laureate, is one of our state's most inspiring literacy advocates. We'd like offer up our heartfelt Thanks for a wildly successful Tavern Books fundraiser that she graciously hosted in her home last night. Over the past two years, Paulann has helped us develop and sustain our Poetry State program (follow this link to learn more about PS)--in fact, Paulann is THE reason Poetry State exists.

Her role as our state poet is not one she takes lightly--she's on the road year round traveling to Oregon's far-flung towns, giving community workshops, hosting events, mentoring writers, and serving as an example for those of us working in the arts. On top of that, Paulann is a member of our Board of Directors. And...she continues to write and publish great books. We can't thank her enough for her efforts.

Thanks, Paulann, for all you do. Like so many, we've run out of adjectives to describe your commitment to the arts.

For those looking to support Poetry State or Tavern Books, do be in touch (tavernbooks@gmail.com)! We'd be delighted to have you join us in our efforts to bring books of exceptional poetry to Oregon's public libraries, Tribal libraries, and alternative book-lending programs.


Michael McGriff
Founding Editor