with an introduction by Bloof Books editor Shanna Compton
When Bloof Books first started out in 2007, our mission was something like a rescue. Our first few books were second books—which at that time didn’t get a lot of play (and maybe still don’t) in what was increasingly becoming a contest-based publishing environment. The presses that had published the first books by each of these poets were folding, being sold, or ceasing to publish poetry in favor of other more lucrative things. I recognized a need, a niche, but more than that—I urgently wanted these books out in the world. That hiring committees and poetic communities tend to overemphasize prize-winners (and press size!) has always struck me as backward, and frankly irrelevant to what we’re trying to do. We don’t do prizes. We’re tiny by design. But we rearranged our lives to found (and fund) this press to ensure poets whose work we find essential are able to make the books they want to make.
Our mission has become more defined over the last ten years—we’ve continued our focus on publishing books by women, but not exclusively women. We’ve continued to serve as a kind of home base (or as Jen calls it, the Mothership) for poets through multiple books, even if we can’t always keep up with their prolific output. We’ve sought out extraordinary first books to publish alongside the maturing work of our multibook poets, and we’ve broadened and deepened the collective with our handmade chapbook series, publishing poets at all stages of their practice, making space for unknown voices or well-known voices who seek a more intimate platform for an idiosyncratic or experimental project. The chapbook series also allows me bring in my book arts practice, to collaborate with the poets in an even more hands-on way than the paperback catalog, and to reach readers in a more tactile, connected way.
As corrective to our own first experiences, we designed our process to be attentive and personal and collaborative: I generally serve as editor, designer, and publicist, so there’s a through line for the author from the first-pass edits to well beyond the launch party. Each poet is also encouraged to shape and participate in each step, to articulate their vision for the book and how to get it seen. Once you’re a poet in the Bloof collective, you remain in the collective whether you publish with us again or not—the press will boost whatever you’ve got going on, forever, and you are invited to help read and select new manuscripts each time we open for reading periods, if you’re into that and availalble. We’ve released the chapbooks as free digital files and kept all our events and reading periods free, to remain open to as many readers and poets as possible. In every case, the book we’re making together we’re making in a way it could not be made elsewhere, and we’re making it for you, and for each other. The poets we publish can vary wildly from one another in aesthetics, poetics, and thematics, but we’re having a conversation. I hope it goes on another decade, at least.
Here are some excerpts from our new & forthcoming books and chapbooks.