by Katie Naughton, Colorado Review Associate Editor
It’s late January, which means that it is reading season at the Center for Literary Publishing for the editors and judges who will select one manuscript to be published as the winner of the Colorado Prize for Poetry and two manuscripts to be published in the Mountain West Poetry Series. (If you missed this year’s deadlines, be sure to look out for next year’s! The annual open-submission period for the Colorado Prize for Poetry is October 1 to January 14, while the Mountain West Poetry Series submissions are generally invited from early October through the end of November. )
We can hardly wait to start copyediting, designing, typesetting, proofreading, and finally holding and reading these books-to-be, but wait we must. Maybe an analogy to farming and seasons makes sense here: fall is harvest; winter is waiting and planning. But while we’re waiting for the arrival of this season’s new manuscripts, we’re actually also in the midst of work on two manuscripts selected last year. I’ve never farmed and I’m losing track of the extent to which this is a reasonable metaphor. Maybe it’s more reasonable to compare us to very frequently pregnant mothers. We can’t wait for you to join us, 2017’s books of poetry! But in the meantime we’re gestating 2016’s books right now.
Here are the buns currently in our oven at the Center for Literary Publishing.
House of Sugar, House of Stone, Emily Pérez, Mountain West Poetry Series
Anticipated release date: March 2016
How we’d describe it: What you’d get if Grimms’ fairy tales were written by a mother, full of love, awe, and fear. From the book:
A New Mother Discovers Emptiness
That winter I resigned my role as hope—
with only two hands, smaller always than I’d needed,
and twice as many yearning mouths to fill.
I concocted stories, songs, and spells,
and once we’d sucked the marrow clean
from words, I spun, I wove, I kept conniving to confect,
but there’s only so much sweetness in the world.
I poured pity on the two of them,
just children still, all their pleasure flown.
In each other’s faces we reflected want,
so I sought solace on my own.
I found it first within the darkness of the woods,
which rendered me invisible. I found it next
within the distance of the stars, whispering how miniscule,
how meaningless my sorrows. Who insists on being heard
when faced with all that space? What is emptiness
when perched upon the lip of a black hole?
I tried to teach those little ones to see,
I pushed them toward the door.
And when they would not go, I locked them out myself.
Here is a pathway, here is bread, I said, you’ll learn
these walls were never real. Make a new home
inside your head. To those who ask me,
What if they are calling in the woods?
I say, at least they’ve learned to sing
and to those who wonder what if
they’re trembling with fear?
I say, then at last they’re full.
&luckier, Christopher J. Johnson, Mountain West Poetry Series
Anticipated release date: November 2016
Where’s the title from? A line from Whitman’s Song of Myself, which serves as the book’s epigraph: “And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.” From the book:
I scoff & offend
I scoff& offend& sing wind
in the form of words to the back of my hand,
Hear me, get me to a party; a circus of bodies
w/ faces flushed& fleeting, tormented
by selves made soft w/ liquid
to forget the cold math of heat,
to lay in yr tomb, pull the covers, to sleep;
i deceive w/ intentions the animal my want is,
take from me these phantoms
&still i’ll imbibe& grope for& wail&
seek the coinage of flesh&
know what i want but act like it isn’t.
We hope you’ll look for these books in 2016, also check out these books of poetry published in 2015! (Which, to continue this ridiculous analogy, are, I guess, our new babies?)
The Business, Stephanie Lenox, Colorado Prize for Poetry, 2015
The Verging Cities, Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Mountain West Poetry Series, 2015
A Lamp Brighter than Foxfire, Andrew S. Nicholson, Mountain West Poetry Series, 2015