Hayden's Ferry Review


An Interview with Copper Canyon Press

HFR's tribute to small presses strikes again. Check out our past interviews here!

What makes your press different from other publishers?

Our press is unique in the effort we put into developing and maintaining intimate relations with our authors as well as with our readership. We pride ourselves on the focus and dedication of our small staff, which is realized in the quality of the books we produce. Our diversity of publications range from reprints to major authors and emerging poets; as well as translations from Estonian and Arabic to Bengali and Spanish. The publication style of translations that we employ is noteworthy due to the presentation of bilingual editions with the original poem en face. We follow the dictum “The practice of translation is plainly impossible and nevertheless indispensable.” – W.S. Merwin.

What’s a recent book you’re excited about?

A book we’re particularly excited about is Richard Jones’ The Correct Spelling & Exact Meaning. We’ve been publishing Jones since the eighties, and have always felt a strong kinship with his work. As a staff we recently read his newest manuscript in a reading group setting, and were reinvigorated by his poems, such as “The Lesson”, “Miracles”, “Shadow Boxing”, “The Span”, “The Face”, “King of Hearts”, “This Blue World”, and “The Pyramid.” One of the staff mentioned that Jones should be read by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac, and eerily enough, Keillor read him the very next day.

What advice do you have for emerging writers looking to be published by a small press? What is it about a work that makes you want to publish it?

We recommend that aspiring authors educate themselves on the requirements of publication with any given press, as well as well as that publisher’s reputation, history, and published work. Our advice to would-be poets can be best explained by Copper Canyon poets Marvin Bell, John Haines, and Eleanor M. Hamilton, whose thoughts on the writing and publishing process are available on our website, under the “Getting Published” tab. We would encourage reading W.S. Merwin’s “Berryman”, and Hayden Carruth’s “On the Impossible Indispensability of the Ars Poetica” as other sentiments of advice.

What prompted the founding of the press?

Copper Canyon Press founders Sam Hamill, Tree Swenson, William O’Daly, and Jim Gautney envisioned a press that would exhibit the vitality of poetry that they believed was necessary to the human condition.

It seems like with large publishers in financial straits, the small presses are getting more attention. So we ask: what has your press done to grow? Do you see further growth?

Our status as a non-profit publisher dictates our ethic and continuing efforts to cultivate a thriving relationship with our donors and readers. It speaks to the importance of constant growth that our Development Committee is continually working towards garnering more support, while sustaining current relationships. We supplement developmental campaigns with marketing and publicity initiatives that serve to expand the audience of readers for our books. This currently involves branching out into the world of social medias, i.e. Facebook, blogging, and maintaining an ever-evolving web presence.

How big can a press be and still be considered small?

Such distinctions are made in the publishing industry according to organizational budgets. Our budget is miniscule, yet our reach is large. Additionally, we are considered a small press because we rely on a core staff of six members, supplemented by a strong intern program.

Visit Copper Canyon's website here.