We talk of someone being a stand-up guy. Over the course of ten plus years CavanKerry Press has been a stand-up poetry press. It has published books about poets, first books, second books, new and selected books, and many other books of many poets at various stages in their careers. CavanKerry’s presence at AWP shows that CKP’s commitment to poetry is unflagging. There aren’t many presses in this country where poetry comes first. CavanKerry is such a press and that means a great deal.-CKP poet, Baron Wormser
During the first week of March, Teresa Carson, CKP Associate Publisher and I spent a snowy, fun, exhaustingly long weekend at the Associated Writing Program’s Conference in Boston. Along with 11,000 others. This conference is the Project Runway for independent publishers and MFA programs. We get to strut our stuff and show our wares. An added bonus: it’s also a place to see old friends.
The up side begins when Teresa and I have unpacked our six or so boxes of books, supplies and racks and start the design part–setting our two tables in as graceful a tableau as we might a formal dining table. And that’s a tricky proposition—requiring Teresa and I to move boxes and racks in various configurations to showcase the books, banners, posters, pamphlets, sign-in sheet, Poets and Writers article about The Waiting Room Reader II and tootsie roll pops that we include to entice possible customers. By Wednesday at five o’clock or so, we were set, and I have to admit to a swelling in my heart to see so many of our books so beautifully displayed. When else do we get a chance to view the breadth of our work? Teresa and I were proud—very proud. I topped off the evening by attending my good friend and CKP poet Karen Chase’s magnificent reading at Harvard while Teresa put her feet up with soup from Au Bon Pain (our dietary haunt for the five days we were there; their soup is superb).
The official opening of the conference was Thursday and to our delight we saw again and in some cases met for the first time scores of our writers from all over the country. Their pride in the press is/was palpable. Several did signings—Judi Hannan, Kevin Carey, Wanda Praisner, Paola Corso and Baron Wormser –and offered Teresa and I help in managing the table. There is great pleasure in that—watching our writers interact so gracefully, so generously.
That was pretty much the case for all three days. Scores of writers came by to introduce themselves and talk about CavanKerry and underscore how beautiful our books are and how much they’d love to be published by us. Included in the joyful connections was meeting new publisher friends with whom we will collaborate. In the midst of a universe of publishers, who are also hoping to sell books, we decided to have a special AWP sale! (Teresa’s brilliant idea) and ended up selling scores of books which delighted both of us.
Saturday was a highlight for me. A new feature was added to this conference in that publishers were able to purchase time to have a reading, so we did. We featured all the new books—Paola Corso reading from The Laundress Catches Her Breath; Wanda Praisner from Where the Dead Are (our most recent publication), Nin Andrews from The Waiting Room Reader, Volumes I, II and I from Confessions of Joan the Tall. It was glorious to read with my fellow CKP writers—how few are the chances to do that.
We ended the weekend with dinner with good friend and CKP editor Baron Wormser and his wife, Janet, and headed home on Sunday quite satisfied with our weekend and as tired as we’d be if run over by a Mack truck. Exhaustion notwithstanding, we were very clear about how important it was for CKP to be represented at this conference because it’s the largest of its kind in the US for independent publishers and MFA programs. As such, it offers the greatest visibility for our writers and books. It also provides writers from across the country an opportunity to meet us, see our books, learn about the press and perhaps send us a manuscript.
What I carry around with me now is the picture of that splendid array of CKP books, the pleasure of reading with my fellow writers, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. And spending days and days with my good friend, Teresa. For a recluse like me those are abundant riches.