As a not-for-profit literary press serving art and community, Cavankerry is committed to expanding the reach of poetry and other fine literature to a general readership by publishing works that explore the emotional and psychological landscapes of everyday life, and to bring that art to the underserved where they live, work and receive services.
Founded in 2000 by Joan Cusack Handler and Florenz Eisman, CavanKerry began with the aim to demystify poetry. The idea has grown and the press has continued to bring poetry to people where they live, work, and receive services.
CavanKerry Press supports talented writers by:
– Providing a rigorous editorial process for manuscripts, engaging the authors to work directly with the editor to produce the best work possible
– Producing beautiful books of high quality
– Offering opportunities to bring their work to the community, and to engage in community programs
– Promoting their books across the country and in a variety of media.
As of March 2024, CavanKerry Press has currently published 124 volumes in print with several more under contract. Our 91 authors are geographically, culturally, economically, and stylistically diverse.
The press publishes 5 to 6 books each year through one of the five categories:
– Emerging Voices, works from early or mid-career poets
– Notable Voices, works of established poets of merit and distinction
– Memoir, memoirs of writers keeping with the theme Lives Brought to Life
– LaurelBooks, fine collections of poetry and prose that explore the many poignant issues associated with confronting serious physical and/or psychological illness
– Florenz Eisman Memorial Collection, work from a New Jersey writer in honor of CavanKerry’s first Managing Editor
COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITY
While publishing books is our reason for being, CavanKerry has a deep commitment to connecting with the community. Since its inception in 2000, CavanKerry’s mission has included the creation of programs that bring our books and writers to diverse audiences where they live, work, and receive services.
Families First Discovery Pass
CavanKerry has joined forces with The New Jersey State Council of the Arts and the New Jersey Department of Human Services, to bring free books to those receiving New Jersey Supplemental Nutrition Program (NJSNAP) and Women Infants and Children (WIC) through the Families First Discovery Pass program.
Presenting Poetry & Prose
CavanKerry brings writers into diverse underserved communities with free Presenting Poetry & Prose readings. CavanKerry’s writers are the spine of the program – each contractually committed to offer three free community service events annually for the first three years their book is in print.
CavanKerry’s GiftBooks program was establish as a means of giving back to the community. The press annually donates up to 10% of its inventory to underserved members by way of libraries, schools, geriatric centers, shelters, prisons, and hospitals.
To date CavanKerry has donated over 35,000 books.
Poetry Out Loud
Poetry Out Loud is a national organization that encourages high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation.
CavanKerry partners with the program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, by donating GiftBooks to participating schools, and by supporting authors as participating judges. The press donates signed author copies from the participating judge to the students who participate in the state finals.
GiftBooks are also given to the New Hampshire and Maine Poetry Out Loud programs.
Collaborations with other Nonprofit Arts Organizations
CavanKerry partners with other arts organizations on programming/co-sponsoring literary events. These include: Wordseed Inc. (responsible for our partnership with the Paterson Poetry Festival and greater Paterson area programming), Monson Arts: Conference on Poetry and Learning (responsible for the Summer teaching artist opportunity we give to the NJPOL state finalist’s teacher), and The Poetry Society of NY(responsible for the NYC Poetry Festival and other ancillary NYC literary programming initiatives).
CavanKerry publishes LaurelBooks – The Literature of Illness and Disability, which focuses on the lived experience of illness. The press sponsors the “Poetry Heals” program, formally co-sponsored by the New Jersey Council on the Humanities. Through “Poetry Heals,” LaurelBooks’ authors lead workshops for the medical staff in various New Jersey hospitals. The participants of the workshop are presented with a LaurelBook upon completion.
One of the many populations that CavanKerry serves is that of the ill and disabled. When ‘everyday life’ involves living with chronic illness, the emotional and psychological issues become more urgent and complicated. With that in mind, CavanKerry publishes LaurelBooks – The Literature of Illness and Disability, dedicated to the literary exploration of the ‘lived experience’ of illness — the complex and intense emotions associated with the confrontation of chronic, life threatening illness and its effects on self, family, marriage, and work.
The press’s eleven published LaurelBooks deal with childhood leukemia, multiple sclerosis, lymphoma, bone marrow transport, cerebral hemorrhage, infertility, emotional dysfunction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Ewing’s sarcoma, schizophrenia, the death of a spouse, and a historic portrait of hospital incarceration in the early 20th century.
The Waiting Room Reader
With CavanKerry’s commitment to supporting the community and producing works of Lives Brought to Life, has come the publication and donation of the Waiting Room Reader: Stories to Keep You Company, Volumes I and II. The Reader is an anthology of poetry and prose from many authors, a compilation of wonderful words designed to ease the stress and anxiety of patients held captive in hospital waiting rooms, anticipating news of a loved one or health care for themselves.
To date, over 19,000 copies of the Readers have been gifted to over 80 hospitals in the New York metropolitan area and nationwide for the benefit of their patients. Pending funding, long term plans include publishing a new volume every three to four years, large print, Spanish, and multi-language editions.
CavanKerry Press books are proudly distributed by the Chicago Distribution Center.