Carol Smallwood’s most recent books include: In Hubble’s Shadow (Shanti Arts); Prisms, Particles, and Refractions (Finishing Line Press); Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction (Shanti Arts), and three edited librarianship anthologies.
Interview of Mindy Kronenberg
Mindy Kronenberg is the publisher, editor of Book/Mark: A Quarterly Small Press Review located in Miller Place, New York. It welcomes inquiries, reviews (500-950 words), of small press books which it publishes in print, hard copy. Mindy’s work appears in many journals and anthologies: firstname.lastname@example.org
Smallwood: When did Book/Mark: A Quarterly Small Press Review begin? What are some of the places it is archived:
We’ve been around since 1994, and archived with the NY Public Library, Poets House, NYC, William and Mary College (Williamsburg Virginia), listed with the Critics Circle Guide, International Directory of Little Magazines and Small Presses, The Writer’s Handbook, distributed through the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, and a member of the Community of Literary Magazines and Pressed (CLMP).
Smallwood: what kinds of books are reviewed: that is nonfiction, poetry, and what others? Have you seen a rise in memoir?
We are very eclectic and like to bring attention to a variety of genres/styles coming out of the small and independent press arena: poetry, fiction, criticism, nonfiction, history, politics, science, children’s literature, and yes, memoir. There has been great interest in memoir and personal narratives. We also include books from university presses, cooperative publishers, and occasionally, self-published books that deserve attention.
Smallwood: I read in the Fall 2017/Winter 2018 issue that you noted: “Now, more than ever, we all need to remind ourselves of how our words can carry our stories, and our shared humanity, to each other.” What changes have you detected in the writing world?
Yes—that was from my editorial, reminiscing about my participating in the Arts in Harmony Festival in Indiana that emphasized “The Celebration of the Written Word” the strengthening process that occurs when we come together and share our personal and collective narratives. I think writers (and their audience) need to continue gathering, sharing, and discussing their work as potential agents of change. I believe the proliferation of writing communities and publishers have bolstered this effort.
Smallwood: Where are some of the places you travel for readings and talking about the writing process?
I truly enjoy having an opportunity to share my work and engage in discussions at a variety of venues—arts, academic, and public. I’ve been a speaker/reader at Arts in Harmony, Indiana (mentioned above), The AWP (Associated Writing Programs) writers conference in Chicago (panel discussion on writing/book reviewing), Bright Hill Literary Farm in Delhi, NY, the Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art, libraries, schools, and museums across Long Island and in NYC, and most recently a book fair sponsored by the Brentwood School District on Long Island. In March I will be doing a reading at the B.J. Spoke Gallery in Huntington, NY to discuss my recent book, Open, and read my poetry.
Smallwood: What are some of the journals and anthologies that you appear in?
My work appears in such anthologies as Like Light: 25 Years of Poetry and Prose By Bright Hill Poets & Writers (Bright Hill Press), The Heart is Improvisational (Guernica Editions, Canada), Eternal Snow, A World-Wide Anthology of Over 125 Poetic intersections With Himalayan Poet Yuyutsu Sharma (Nirala Editions, New Deli), Poets for Paris and Bards Against Hunger, 5th Anniversary Edition Anthology of International Poets (Local Gems, NY), and Birds: A Flight of Poems (Feral Press/Prehensile Pencil Press, Oyster Bay, NY). My poetry/stories have appeared online at Summerset Review, Greenwich Village Review, Poetry Bay, and as part of the International Ekphrasis Project (Versopolis journal).
Smallwood: There is a great deal of competition to get reviews accepted and I thank you for helping. Hard copies of reviews are not common, and it is a pleasure to receive them. Do you have any advice that will help struggling writers and poets?
We do what we can! Book/Mark has been around long (enough to see the impact of desktop publishing and the rise of small and independent presses, which has been a boon to emerging poets and writers who have less of a chance with the big guns in the publishing industry. The gradual proliferation of independent book stores also helps the cause, actively presenting readings, book discussions, events to publicize/support social causes, advocate for free speech, and introduce new presses and authors. I would simply advise to stay active, participate in or attend open readings at libraries and bookstores, connect with writing groups, go to conferences and fairs and workshops, read all you can that’s being published, especially among the small press publishers since they are largely open to novice and lesser-known writers.
Smallwood: Who are your favorite writers? Your favorite quotation?
I always find this first question difficult, since there are so many exemplary voices out there, recognized and new. For right now, a very short and eclectic list: Jericho Brown, Juan Felipe Herrera, Shari Wagner, Daniel Thomas Moran, Kaylie Jones, J.P. Redmond, M.J. Moore, Ted Kooser, and Claire Nicolas White. The joy and privilege of reviewing small press books is becoming acquainted with unfamiliar and emerging voices, and my book shelves are stacked with myriad poems and stories by these authors, who make their way into my classes on creative writing.
As for quotes on writing, three that I have on my office door: “A writer is a world trapped in a person (Victor Hugo);” “I write to discover what I know (Flannery O’Connor);” “Always be a poet, even in prose (Baudelaire).”