As I wrote recently, there’s a whole boatload of small, independent presses out there putting out great literature. These presses have become the backbone of the literary community and the home of most of the really interesting work being written today. One of my favorites is Sunnyoutside.
Sunnyoutside is the brainchild of David McNamara, who runs the press from the publishing hotbed of Buffalo, New York. (I’m actually not being facetious about that–Buffalo is home to one of the best small press book fairs in the country.) I discovered the press because an old friend of mine, Brian Mihok, became an editor there a couple of years ago, and when I went to AWP in Boston in March, Brian and David let me crash on the floor of their hotel room. So–I guess this is a roundabout sort of disclosure–I consider both of those guys to be friends. However, my admiration for their press is entirely (well, at least mostly) independent of my personal affection for them.
Sunnyoutside produces a range of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction books and chapbooks. David does the design work, and he does a fantastic job–in particular, the letterpress, hand-sewn chapbooks are labor-intensive works of art, and would be even if they didn’t contain any words at all. Brian and David choose the titles for publication together, and there is some really interesting work in there. My favorites: Micah Ling’s Sweetgrass, a collection of lovely poems that wonderfully evoke their setting, the mountains and plains of Montana; and Anhvu Buchanan’s just released debut, The Disordered, a collection of poems written in the voices of people with a broad range of metal illnesses. That last one also offers a bit of symmetry for me: I don’t know Anhvu well, but I’d met him a couple of times at different reading series in the Bay Area, and when I was hanging out with Brian and David (as well as Dan Shapiro, whose book How the Potato Chip Was Invented is forthcoming from Sunnyoutside) at AWP, I found out they were publishing his book. Good people find other good people, I guess. We all ended up going out for beers and the other guys got to watch me strike out with a cocktail waitress. Because of course I did.
Anyway, Anhvu, Dan, and Micah all serve as examples that there are a lot of really cool writers out there that the general public–and I’m talking about the small portion of the general public that actually reads books–hasn’t heard of. And they are able to publish their work thanks to great small presses like Sunnyoutside. Don’t believe me? Go over to the website and order a book–you won’t be disappointed.