In the summer of 2011, during my second year studying in Goddard College’s Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program (poetry) in Plainfield, Vermont, I was sitting at my desk in Pasadena, California one night and decided to start a press, Shabda Press. The journey began in the dark, perhaps in the darkness of an egg, a woman’s womb or the womb of the earth. I had no idea how to start a press but my fingers searched for the path and I began to feel my way in the dark, researching different options and learning as I went along while fueled by the love of writing poetry and the love of sharing poetry that I loved. I created an account for a free website and then proceeded to send out a call for submissions. My idea was that this was a labor of love and I wanted to put my attention into taking care of each poetry book I would publish so I wanted to keep things small. I started with the idea of publishing one book a year. I used InDesign (the trial version) for the first time while creating the cover for Shabda Press’ first book. I had no previous training, but taught myself. I received quite a few submissions for the first call and published Goddard alumna Sayra Pinto’s poetry book, Pinol : Poems (2012).
This summer, Shabda Press will celebrate its fifth year of life and has published poetry books by poets around the country and world, including Joan I. Siegel, Michael Shorb, Jennifer Clark, Nahshon Cook, Lowell Jaeger, Michael Rothenberg, Mariko Kitakubo, Deborah P. Kolodji and books by three Goddard College alumni – Pinol : Poems by Sayra Pinto (2012), Hunger Moon by Susan Deer Cloud (2014), A Slow Education by David Giver (2013) and I Still Remember the Last Time You Held My Hand by David Giver (2015). Susan Deer Cloud’s new book of poetry, Before Language, is forthcoming this summer, and we will celebrate its release as well as the release of other recent books, by having a reading at Poets House in New York City and at the New York City Poetry Festival on Governor’s Island. At the end of the year 2016, Shabda Press will publish its first full-length anthology of poetry, Nuclear Impact: Broken Atoms in Our Hands.
In 2014, in order to share poetry and spread the word, Shabda Press joined forces with three other small presses to create the Coast to Coast Poetry Press Collective (c2p2). The Coast to Coast Poetry Press Collective consists of four small presses, Shabda Press (Pasadena, California), Many Voices Press (Kalispell, Montana), Hummingbird Press (Seattle, Washington & Madison, Wisconsin), and FootHills Publishing (Wheeler Hill, New York). Hummingbird Press is co-edited by CX Dillhunt and Drew Dillhunt, a Goddard College MFAW alum (Port Townsend, WA campus). c2p2 is another Goddard College alumni collaboration. For the past few years, c2p2 has had a booth at the AWP Bookfair selling books published by all four presses and has hosted readings around the country.
I came to understand that the network of poets, publishers and friends that I work with are like a subterranean mycelium network; we nourish each other, communicating with each other in our ancient language of kindness and humanity, creating the foundation of life. We decompose, we make what seems impossible, possible. We are an important part of the literary ecosystem. Importantly, through writing and poetry, we take or absorb the poison out of the system similar to the role of mushrooms saving the world by absorbing the toxins and even radiation from the environment.
This summer will be Shabda Press’ fifth year anniversary. The journey has been and continues to be one filled with work, struggles and joy. I am grateful for the presence of my Goddard family in friendship and in spirit.
My journey in writing and publishing has been about connecting with humanity through poetry, connecting with each other in community. I remember the words Elena Georgiou gave us at graduation, I hang them on the wall of my room– “January 2012 Graduation Gift: * You have the right to write. * You have the privilege of being a writer. * You have the responsibility to write. Never lose faith in the power of words.” May our words continue to be our medicine and light.
from Hunger Moon by Susan Deer Cloud
Crying for a Vision, Snowstorm
I suppose you want my poems to be
about dancing in feathers at powwows
or hiking up to some generic
purple majesty mountaintop out West,
fasting on long freezing nights and
crying for a vision. Here is the vision
I am crying for in my dump of a freezing
apartment in Binghamton, New York …
enough to cover rent plus cable television
so my cat and I can watch our nature shows
loud enough to block out the gunshots
on this street the city plows last.
Coast to Coast Poetry Press Collective
Author of two full-length collections of poetry, Red Thread (Fithian Press, 2012) and Keeper of the Winds (FootHills Publishing, 2014), Teresa Mei Chuc was born in Saigon, Vietnam and immigrated to the U.S. under political asylum with her mother and brother shortly after the Vietnam War while her father remained in a Vietcong “reeducation” camp for nine years. Her poetry appears in journals such as CONSEQUENCE Magazine, EarthSpeak Magazine, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Kyoto Journal, The Prose-Poem Project, The National Poetry Review, Rattle, Whitefish Review, Verse Daily and in anthologies such as New Poets of the American West (Many Voices Press, 2010), With Our Eyes Wide Open: Poems of the New American Century (West End Press, 2014), and Mo’ Joe (Beatlick Press, 2014). Teresa’s poetry is forthcoming in the anthology, Inheriting the War: Poetry and Prose by Descendants of Vietnam Veterans and Refugees. Her new chapbook of poetry is How One Loses Notes and Sounds (Word Palace Press, 2016). Teresa Mei Chuc is a graduate of the Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont and teaches literature and writing at a public high school in Los Angeles. In 2011, Teresa founded Shabda Press as a labor of love.