“Poets Take Note” — Philip Dacey (Nigeria)

by Philip Dacey (Nigeria 1963-65)

Peace Corps Volunteers, returned or current, who are turning their experiences into poetry and looking for appropriate publishing outlets, ought to know about WordTech Communications of Cincinnati, publisher of my most recent book. Owned and operated by Kevin Walzer and Lori Jareo, WordTech specializes in poetry, utilizes print-on-demand technology, but — and this is important — is not a vanity press. The publishers are determined to make poetry profitable for all concerned without requiring subsidization by the poets themselves.

One sign of their seriousness is their ability to attract contemporary American poets who have a significant following already. Their list includes Barry Spacks, Allison Joseph, Frederick Turner, Rhina K. Espaillat, and Nick Carbo.

Jareo and Walzer are in fact well aware of the automatic association of p.o.d. technology and vanity publishing. They aim explicitly at severing that connection, demonstrating by their own example that the technology of printing is one thing and the publisher-author arrangement is a separate thing. (They don’t even accept reading fees, which is standard for many non-p.o.d publishers; WordTech doesn’t want your money; they want to create a broad, paying audience for excellent poetry.

The two together bring to their enterprise much experience: two books of literary criticism, a book of poems, and ten years of magazine writing and editing. Both come from a corporate background; their combination of business and literary skills/interests make their success a good bet.
Books from WordTech appear under a variety of imprints including David Roberts Books, Word Press, and Turning Point. Different imprints tend to reflect different genres of poetry.

Given their interest in a wide variety of poetry — lyric, narrative, formal, social, experimental — I recommend WordTech Communications to the poets among you in search of a publisher.

A caveat: besides having nothing necessarily to do with vanity publishing, the p.o.d. technology should not suggest to anyone that the editors’ criteria are in any way different from the standards at non-p.o.d. outlets. The editors’ experience with, love for, and commitment to quality poetry mean that the submission of a manuscript to them comes with the definite risk of “no, thank you” as a response.
Good luck to you.

Philip Dacey (Nigeria 1963-65) was raised in St. Louis and earned his BA from St. Louis University, an MA from Stanford, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. A Peace Corps volunteer in Nigeria in the 1960s, he lived in Yugoslavia on a Fulbright Fellowship and also traveled widely in Europe. Known for his dexterous use of traditional verse form, Dacey published more than a dozen books of poetry, including Church of the Adagio (2014), Gimme Five (2013), Mosquito Operas: New and Selected Short Poems (2010), The Deathbed Playboy (1999), The Paramour of the Moving Air (1999), Night Shift at the Crucifix Factory (1991), and many chapbooks. With David Jauss, he coedited the anthology Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms (1986). Dacey’s work has been set to music by David Sampson, Elizabeth Alexander, and Robert Whitcomb and performed at venues that include the Carnegie-Mellon Institute and by orchestras such as the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and the Southwest Minnesota Orchestra. Individual poems have been included in installations at the Bailey-Boushay House and featured in artist Letterio Calapai’s wood engravings.

Dacey’s honors and awards include three Pushcart Prizes and the Discovery Award from the Poetry Center of the 92nd Street YM-YWHA. He was the recipient of a Woodrow Wilson fellowship from Stanford University as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bush Foundation, and the Loft-McKnight Foundation. He served as poet- or writer-in-residence at Wichita State University, the University of Idaho, and Minnesota State University at Mankato. While teaching at Southwest State Minnesota University, Dacey founded the Marshall Festivals, the Minnesota Writers’ Festival, and the International Film Series. He lived in Minneapolis until his death in 2016.


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