NA: Tell me about Rescue Press. What makes it unique? And what inspired the name?
CP: Rescue Press is an independent small press that publishes poetry, fiction, nonfiction, art experiments, and hybrid work. It is comprised of myself, my co-founder and managing editor Danny Khalastchi, our creative director Sevy Perez, editorial assistants Zach Isom and Alyssa Perry, and our social media and marketing coordinator Rachel White. The name came from my love of rhyme, primarily, although we are fond of the idea of “rescuing” as a generally responsible social action. We are practiced in posting bail, throwing life-rafts, sending a helicopter, patching wounds, picking fights, buying a drink, publishing your book, drying those tears, and babysitting.
NA: I read on your website: “Rescue Press in an independent publisher of chaotic and investigative work.” Could you explain what you mean by “chaotic and investigative”?
CP: By “chaotic and investigative” I mean we are looking for work that—whether implicitly, aggressively, aesthetically, or formally—asks questions or expresses the mind at work on a worry. The word “chaos” is itself a contradiction, contranym. Our common understanding—loss of control, turmoil—is only a sliver of its meaning. Complex chaotic systems not only represent the opposite of order (entirely random, irrational, or incomprehensible states of disarray), but also a subtler, less obvious set of patterns. Populations, fractals, leaky faucets, pendulums. A lens for interpreting tendrils, travel patterns, behavior. You can see how this serves as an apt metaphor for compelling writing. N. Katherine Hayles writes that chaos “is not a passive instrument,” but “active engagement with a vital medium that has its own currents, resistances, subversions, enablings, pathways, blockages” and, I would add, inquiries. For an example of this sort of approach, check out Patricia Rose (Danielle Rosen)’s The Institute for Species Systemization: An Experimental Archive—a hybrid work of science, psychology, linguistics, conceptual art, and performance—or Lauren Haldeman’s Calenday, an astounding book of poetry which investigates grief and birth, trauma and the mysterious origins of energy.
NA: Rescue Press was started in 2009, so it’s new. What inspired you to start a press?
CP: Rescue is turning five as we speak! Let’s eat cake! A few of the things that inspired Rescue’s genesis were a love of form, Ralph Waldo Emerson, feminism, Montessori memories, and a compulsion to make. Rescue was raised in the Midwest (it has lived in Milwaukee, Iowa City, Chicago, and Cleveland) and still calls a water fountain a “bubbler.”
NA: What was the first book you published? And why did you choose it?
CP: Our first book was Marc Rahe’s The Smaller Half, and we’re excited that his second collection of poetry, On Hours, is forthcoming from Rescue this spring. Here are a few wonders from that book.
NA: If you had one line of advice to someone submitting a book to Rescue Press, what would it be?
CP: Be stranger, Stranger.
NA: You publish poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and hybrids. I’d love to hear more about your hybrids. And maybe see a brief excerpt from a hybrid.
CP: The aforementioned Rosen book is a good place to start, as are Andrea Rexilius’ To Be Human Is To Be A Conversation, Zach Savich’s Events Film Cannot Withstand, Anne Germanacos’ Tribute, and Christian TeBordo’s forthcoming Toughlahoma. We’re extremely lucky to work with Hilary Plum and Zach Savich who edit our Open Prose Series, which publishes one work a year of nonfiction, fiction, or sui generis prose and accepts submissions during the month of January. They’ve chosen two extraordinary books so far (Germanacos and TeBordo) that complicate concepts of genre and form in exciting ways. “Hybrid” is one word for this sort of complication, but in general Rescue is fond of experiments with storytelling, framing, music, multimedia, reality, pacing, humor, and wit.
NA: How many poetry books do you publish each year?
CP: Approximately three books of poetry, one or two books of prose.
NA: Do all of your poetry books come from your contest, the Black Box Poetry Prize? Who judges the contest?
CP: Not all come from the contest; at least one does, often two. The others are solicited. Our judges so far have included Sabrina Orah Mark, Zach Savich, Heather Christle, and Maggie Nelson.
NA: Who was the 2014 winner of the Black Box Poetry Prize? Could you say a few words about why this book was selected? And could you post a poem from the book?
CP: This year’s winner was Sara Deniz Akant, whose first collection, Babette, was chosen by Maggie Nelson and will be published next fall. Akant’s work is bizarre and brazen, haunting and mischievous; it’s unlike anything you’ve ever read, I promise. A few poems from the book can be found at Lana Turner. We’ll also be publishing Dot Devota’s The Division of Labor, another extraordinary manuscript we pulled from the prize.
NA: Tell me about some of the highlights of Rescue Press. (Feel free to provide a link or two.)
CP: Danny and I are extremely proud of all of our books, and so I’ll leave you with a link to another fun thing we do, our Safety Book Interview Series in which poets and prose writers describe a book that has changed their life in some magical way, a book they couldn’t possibly live without.
Caryl Pagel is the author of two full-length collections of poetry: Twice Told (H_NG M_N Books, 2014) and Experiments I Should Like Tried At My Own Death (Factory Hollow Press, 2012). She is the co-founder and editor of Rescue Press, a poetry editor at jubilat, and the director of the Cleveland State University Poetry Center. She is an A
ssistant Professor of English at Cleveland State University and teaches in the NEOMFA program in Eastern Ohio.
Nin Andrews received her BA from Hamilton College and her MFA from Vermont College. The recipient of two Ohio Arts Council grants, she is the author of several books including The Book of Orgasms, Spontaneous Breasts, Why They Grow Wings, Midlife Crisis with Dick and Jane, Sleeping with Houdini, and Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum. She also edited Someone Wants to Steal My Name, a book of translations of the French poet, Henri Michaux. Her book, Southern Comfort was published by CavanKerry Press in 2010. Follow Nin's blog here. Follow Nin on Twitter here.