This morning, when I went to wake my 11-year-old son, I found him at the window, a camera in his hand. “What are you doing up already, Paul?” I asked. “I just had to take a picture of the fog; it looks really cool,” he answered. His reply made me realize that the impulse to create, or to record what is beautiful, is inherent in all of us. Whether inspiration comes to us in a photograph or a poem, the arts are vital to us, maybe even more important than sleep.
At Carolina Wren, we nurture writers outside the mainstream—especially women, people of color, writers with disabilities and experimental writers. We believe these voices need to be heard, that they are vital to us. This year has been an eventful one for us:
- In January, we went live with a new website that includes many browser-friendly features such as videos of poetry readings, downloadable submissions guidelines, a blog, and an online store for our books and merchandise. In addition to books by our authors and some friends of the press, we also carry North Carolina Alphabet Posters, Carolina Wren Press hats, and some audio collections.
- In February, we launched two more books in the Carolina Wren Press Poetry Series: Minnie Bruce Pratt’s Inside the Money Machine and Yvonne Murphy’s Aviaries. Launch festivities included a party at the Hillyer Art Space in Washington D.C. Later in the year, Yvonne Murphy visited the Triangle for several readings, and she read widely in upstate New York through the year. In September, Minnie Bruce Pratt joined us in Durham for a reading co-sponsored by the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University’s Rubenstein Library, and to ride on our first-even Carolina Wren Press Parade Float. Our banners read “So-Les-Po” (Southern Lesbian Poetry) and the truck-bed was filled with poets waving to the crowds.
- On a sad note, in April of this year, we learned of the death of Jeanne Leiby, author of Downriver, the inaugural winner of the Doris Bakwin Award. Leiby, who had risen to editorship of the prestigious Southern Review, was memorialized widely this fall, in conferences and online.
- In May, we joined forces with Grey Mare Press and the National Library of Wales to make their newest title, The Book of Ystwyth: Six Poets on the Art of Clive Hicks-Jenkins, available in the United States. We anticipate a lot of interest in this book at next year’s Associated Writing Program’s conference.
- Another result of collaboration was the publication of The Monti’s Hippo Awards, Volume 1. This two-CD set features winners of the Hippo Awards for 2008 and 2009. The Monti is a monthly storytelling event in North Carolina.
- Nancy Simpson’s Living Above the Frost Line, our inaugural collection in the Laureate Series, was named a finalist in poetry at the Southern Independent Bookseller’s Association. It was recently reviewed in the North Carolina Literary Review and the Asheville Poetry Review.
- More and more of our poetry titles are being chosen as texts for university courses: Karen Anderson’s Punish Honey, Minnie Bruce Pratt’s Inside the Money Machine, and Evie Shockley’s a half-red sea.
- Grants from the North Carolina Arts Council and the Durham Arts once again helped us with publications and overhead.
In the coming year we will launch (as paperback and eBook) Margaret Hermes’s Relative Strangers, the most recent winner of the Doris Bakwin Award, selected by Jill McCorkle. We will shortly announce the winner of the most recent Carolina Wren Press Poetry Series competition, which is being judged this year by Lee Ann Brown. Later in the spring, we will be producing several back titles as eBooks, and also producing an audio sampler of Carolina Wren Press poets, from 2005 to the present. Back in the office, we are awaiting he next round of Doris Bakwin submissions, which will be judged by Moira Crone.
We are increasingly busy at Carolina Wren, but book sales continue to lag in this economy. So we ask for your help in support of our mission. Won’t you please consider giving Carolina Wren Press a tax-deductible donation? Remember the boy with the camera at the window, how the arts sustain us…. You can click right over to http://carolinawrenpress.org/donate and donate online, or send a check to Carolina Wren Press, 120 Morris Street, Durham, NC 27701.
Andrea Selch, President