Should I start a poetry press?

It’s a question I’ve been pondering for the last year. If I did start one, it would be something small and accessible for my immediate poetry community. Say, for example, 5 curated poems per month via email.

There’s no money in poetry, so it’d have to be something with a relatively low impact on my day-to-day life that is also scalable in case I want to adapt it into poetry e-books or something of that nature. But it should also live online so that those featured in it can link out to it to showcase their work. As a poet myself, I know there’s a lot of value in that.

My friend Polina West runs a Substack newsletter called “Lollipops and crisps”. She just migrated over from TinyLetter, and I love the email format. It’s more intimate, and you know exactly whose reading your work. Plus, there’s an archive that lives online, which I find important.

Polina also recently released a very zine-like, DIY-style, hella punk collection, IRL IRL 005, published by Human Trash Dump. IRL IRL was started by her and April Vendetta, who runs Human Trash Dump.

One of the notes in its archive.org description is, “IRL IRL is looking for less anxiety inducing or habit-forming methods of sharing ideas and communicating amongst ourselves & with ‘the public.'” In other words, Polina and April are geniuses, and IRL IRL takes on a very “fuck social media” stance without actually saying it. . . which is essentially the same sentiment behind writing a low-traffic blog instead of harnessing the power of social media to get my 4,000 followers (spread across various platforms) to consume my work.

Now, Polina can say anything she wants, and the people who consume it have already opted in. They want to see her work. And that’s the power of email, a power social media (arguably) no longer holds. She’s not under the thumb of the algorithm, and neither is her work. I’d also like to note that IRL IRL submissions are via ProtonMail, which is consistent with her values.)

I’ve even faced a dilemma about starting this blog. Are blogs dead? The truth of this space is that I want to talk about process and showcase what I’m working on for anyone who is curious about work. It’s for the select few who are peeping my work, maybe those who want to collaborate or are just straight up creepers.

Honestly, I’m not even sure what it means to talk about “process.” I often think of the cerebral, inaccessibly “cool” poets and writers, especially those deeply steeped in academic circles all jerking each other off intellectually. I also think of how empty that feels to me.

Since CAConrad has had an immense influence on my work and life, I immediately think of their (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals, which is a form of discussing process that is non-pretentious and also very punk.

I just need to decide what suits me when I discuss process in this space. I guess in a way, that’s what I’m already doing.

So, start a press or not? I guess we shall see.

If you know of any writers or artists owning their spaces like CAConrad and Polina, please let me know.

If you’re interested in publishing a poem through my future press, please reach out to me, too.