great weather editors, from left to right: George Wallace, Mary McLaughlin Slechta, Jane Ormerod, Thomas Fucaloro, David Lawton, Lyndsey Ellis
For our end of the year spotlight, we’re focusing on another press very close to home. 3RP editor Mary Rose Manspeaker got the chance to talk to great weather for MEDIA’s Jane Ormerod about being part of a community of independent presses and the NYC community, forming connections through writing and publishing, and what the pandemic has meant for NYC and small businesses. great weather, based in New York City, publishes writers nationwide and internationally in poetry and prose anthologies and solo collections–and they are open for anthology submissions right now through January 15, so don’t forget to share your work with their fantastic team! To get an idea of what they’re all about, read the interview below and check them out on their website, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Mary Rose Manspeaker: What sets you apart as an independent press? As a press that looks for unpredictable, fearless writing, what stands out to you in submissions?
Jane Ormerod: “Sets us apart” is a tough one as I feel we are part of the independent press community. However, I do feel the fact we publish a small number of print titles a year – one poetry and prose anthology taken from open submission, plus one solo poetry collection – means we can work exceptionally close with our writers. For the anthology, we may suggest editorial tweaks and often get into fascinating dialogue with contributors. We always provide proofs before publication. For the solo collections, we collaborate with the author for over a year leading up to publication and then help with promotion after. It’s a partnership for sure and a privilege to be part of someone’s creative journey.
We are also proud of our book covers and design. And we love a challenge! Anyone who has picked up Steve Dalachinsky’s Where Night and Day Become One or John J. Trause’s Exercises in High Treason will appreciate the intricacies of the layout. For John J. Trause, we spent a lot of time researching the evolution of the Crayola crayon typeface to use in one specific poem. With the cover of our latest anthology, Paper Teller Diorama, the name of the work by artist Amy Brier is “Prague.” We used the same typeface, Metron, and blue color as seen on the classic Prague Metro system.
For submissions we look for surprise. When a poem or story heads in an unexpected direction or speaks truth in new ways. Work that introduces us to other experiences. Work that challenges. We love receiving hybrid writing that may be hard to place elsewhere. Our anthologies are a larger physical size so we can make advantage of white space or longer lines. We publish emerging and established writers from around the globe. The youngest has been sixteen and the oldest, I believe, in their nineties.
An anthology presents a mix of styles and viewpoints. An anthology is a community. A journey. Representation. A platform and a home. We spend a huge amount of time arranging the order of work in the book. Each work speaks to others around it. A final line resonates with the first line of another.
Submissions are open until January 15, 2022. Send us your best!
MRM: great weather is also an organization really involved in organizing performances and readings. How has this connected you to the NYC writing community, and what does that mean to the press? How does this aspect interact with your editorial vision?
JO: We have run a weekly reading series, Spoken Word Sundays, at the Parkside Lounge in New York City for several years. Local community and support are vital to us. The editors and hosts are all writers ourselves and we thrive off the energy that open mics offer. We see regulars coming as far as Philadelphia and Connecticut. Featured readers include writers from further afield and we aim to introduce new voices. The weekly series has just restarted. Thank you, NYC, for requiring vaccination proof indoors!
Pre-COVID, we organized an annual tour from Los Angeles to Seattle to promote our anthologies and to connect with contributors across the country. Many deep friendships have formed over the years and the ability to connect writers to others in their community has been a joy. It also means we can introduce our solo poets to a wider audience. We look forward to traveling again in 2022.
In addition, we arrange events in cities such as New Orleans and Chicago. Further afield, we have performed in London, Liverpool, and Manchester in the UK. Recently, Zoom open mics extended our reach again. Having a series of virtual book celebrations for our anthology allowed us to personally connect with a higher number of contributors. It is thrilling hearing a poem or story performed after seeing it on the page for so long.
Finally, we are a sponsor of the New York City Poetry Festival held on Governors Island where we have a book table and host a reading. It was amazing seeing everyone this summer after a year away.
MRM: How have you adapted to the COVID pandemic landscape, and what are your goals for the future? Have the past two years changed your outlook?
JO: COVID hit us fast. For those of us in New York City, we had no idea when – or indeed if – we would see each other again. We canceled our trip to the AWP Conference and Bookfair on March 3, 2020 and shut down our reading series on March 15. Our plans were to launch Thaddeus Rutkowski’s collection Tricks of Light at AWP and hold a live NYC book launch the following month.
Looking back, I am proud how quickly we adjusted. We started an online “Poem of the Week” and “Flash of the Month” from early April until late summer. Submissions arrived Monday-Thursday and were published on the Sunday. Starting July 2020, our editor Thomas Fucaloro curated a Wednesday ten-minute feature Zoom reading. This has been a huge success and continues ever week. Thaddeus’ book launch was rescheduled as virtual and we celebrated the publication of our 2020 anthology, Escape Wheel, with a monthly series of Zooms. In the summer of 2020, we switched our Sunday series to virtual and made a lot of new friends. All Zooms are also livestreamed to Facebook.
Focusing on the anthology, through selection from 1,500 submissions, working with over sixty selected writers, plus layout and design, gave purpose to the early days. From a team perspective, it was important to be kind to one another and not overburden ourselves. If one of us needed to take time away, the others supported. Taking editorial meetings to Zoom helped us bond closer as no one was excluded geographically from in-person meetings. The editorial team is split between New York City, Long Island, upstate New York, and the Midwest. The creative ideas spark when all of us are involved.
Another important development was setting up our online store. It gives us great joy whenever an order comes in and we know our books are being shared to the world. And we love going to the Post Office! Please use code BBF21 for a 20% discount on all full-price titles during December.
We so miss meeting and chatting to people at bookfair and readings!
MRM: What would you say is the most important aspect and outcome of supporting independent presses and bookstores? Of bolstering the literary arts?
Lockdown was a devastating time for all small businesses, bookstores and small presses included. Independent presses rely on book sales and donations to survive. Book sales for us ceased for a while. For a small press, writers often achieve their highest sales at live events and these opportunities were lost. The chat format on Zoom and Facebook provides much-deserved praise and encouragement for writers. However, sales are far lower at an online event.
Independent presses showcase a variety of non-mainstream voices, encourage creativity, and inspire. We urge readers to look at the bios of writers they admire and discover other small presses and literary journals. And don’t forget the enthusiasm of your local bookseller. There are so many wonderful organizations out there. Writers deserve readers and an audience. Art offers us the hidden, the unnoticed, and it may often challenge us. It demands attention. We all need to head off the beaten path…
MRM: Since starting in 2012, how has your vision for the press expanded? Your masthead has even grown as recently as 2020; what do you look for in collaborators, and what does the future look like for great weather for MEDIA?
JO: great weather for MEDIA began with the intention of publishing a yearly anthology of poetry and prose. In 2014 we published our first solo poetry collection, Retrograde by Puma Perl. We are a small team of six editors, plus we are thankful for support from additional event hosts and organizers. We welcomed Lyndsey Ellis as our new prose editor in October 2020. As a novelist, essayist, and social activist based in Missouri, Lyndsey brings a fresh eye to the team. The next AWP Conference is being held in Philadelphia in March 2022 and I can’t wait to meet Lyndsey for the first time in person!
January 2022 will be our ten-year anniversary. All our books remain in print and we love every single one of them.
MRM: Tell us about your most recently publications and what’s in the works—feel free to plug your new books!
JO: Our latest anthology is Paper Teller Diorama. The poetry and short fiction are outstanding, plus we are honored to include an interview with the current poet laureate of San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin.
Coming up in early 2022 is the superb debut poetry collection from Mario Jose Pagán Morales, Receta. As in-person events hopefully return, we are excited to show this book off to the world. A shoutout too for Thaddeus Rutkowski and Tricks of Light as its publication hit the start of the pandemic. Despite the timing, the reviews have been immense. It is brilliant book.
Please check out our website and remember we are accepting submissions until January 15!
You can also check out the titles by great weather staff published by Three Rooms Press!
Sharp Blue Stream by David Lawton