During the war, we felt the silence in the policy of the governments of English-speaking countries. That policy was to win the war first, and work out the meanings afterward. The result was, of course, that the meanings were lost. You cannot put these things off. One of the invitations of poetry is to come to the emotional meanings at every moment.
—Muriel Rukeyser, The Life of Poetry
Paris Press began almost twenty years ago with the simple mission of resurrecting Muriel Rukeyser’s The Life of Poetry, a collection of essays originally published in 1949 that explore how resistance to poetry is connected to the modern world’s fear of individual thought and emotion, which then lends itself to a world that seems ever more fractured and confusing.
Over the years, Paris Press continued to publish works by Rukeyser as well as other women writers who had “been overlooked by commercial and independent publishers,” and these books immediately began earning attention from national publications including the New Yorker and New York Times Book Review, along with features on programs like NPR’s Fresh Air.
Paris Press publishes all genres by women writers from all over the map, but every text—whether poetry, play, or prose—deeply explores and illuminates those “emotional meanings” Rukeyser describes as essential to confronting and defying a world that remains as chaotic and volatile as it was in 1949.
Today, Paris Press is on the brink of several new developments: a more comprehensive website and blog launching this summer; a new award for a short story collection that will include publication by Paris Press; and an increased focus on educational outreach. Jan Freeman, poet and Executive Director of Paris Press, shares what’s in store for readers, authors, and educators.
Q: Due to backlog, Paris Press is not currently accepting new manuscripts. When will the press once again be opening the floodgates?
A: That’s about to change. We are just finishing updating our website for the press, and the new and improved site will be launched by the end of July. With the launch, we’ll be expanding our programming. We’ll include a blog, we’ll start publishing individual works by writers—bothcontemporary as well as writers from earlier time periods—and we’ll be accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction for our online site. We also will soon begin accepting book-length submissions online, so we’re joining the twenty-first century. The Internet opens things up in an exciting way that Paris Press is now embracing.
We’ll also have a book length short-story manuscript competition in honor of Alice Munro receiving the Nobel. We are still finalizing who our judge will be, and then we’ll announce on the website the timeline and guidelines for submitting manuscripts.
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