Austin, edited Writers \(Dallas, edited by James P. Houston, \(San Antonio, edited by Alfredo and Roll \(Austin, edited by Michael Latitudes \(Austin, edited by Robert Austin, portant new press is Wings \(Houston, already printed chapbooks by Vassar Miller and Susan Bright and will soon bring out collections by Michael Ventura and Whitebird. Since bookstores rarely deal in publications lacking New York trade names and central distribution systems, small presses must beg for space on retail shelves and plead with book review editors to allow even a short column for notices. It is extremely discouraging for the operators of a small press, once one of their works has received good reviews, to hear from booksellers that they are still uninterested in stocking the book. Small press publishers have persisted nonetheless, and now with the Texas Circuit providing a systematic distribution program, the growing audience for small press publications should find contemporary Texas literature more readily available. Another significant development is the recent addition by The Texas Quarterly of its first book review section, which will be open to small press publications. \(A related undertaking by the Quarterly is a projected series of books of original and translated poetry to be published under the TQ Quartet \(College Station, edited by space for reviews of new Texas writing, while the Southwest Review in Dallas has done next to nothing for small presses \(although J. Frank Dobie once described the magazine’s policy as one of “asserting Southwest literature”; were the grand old man still here I feel certain he would agree that the most important developments in Texas letters New review outlets Among Texas’ small press magazines that have themselves added review space, five are particularly noteworthy for the attention they have paid to the state’s poets: Wood Ibis \(from Jim Cody’s important Place of Herons Press, which has also published some half dozen chapbooks by nature-oriented The Gar \(something of a Third World magazine in the Nation format which has printed poems, reviews, and long assessments of Texas and African Cedar Rock \(which prints both full-length essays on poets and excerpts The Pawn Review \(edited by Michael Anderson in Dallas; its reviews are given over almost exclusively to Texas small press Texas Portfolio \(which has carried reviews and articles tion, the Texas Center for Writers Press, with its Texas Books in Review, has instituted an annual compilation of Texas press publications as well as lengthy reviews, and the Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers’ Newsletter regularly publishes solid reviews of small press publications. A new outlet for reviews, Book News in Dallas \(published by The Texas Arts Journal, a slick, pretentious magazine which prefers the cast-off, second-rate work of ran critiques of small press chapbooks but has reportedly dropped them out of a mistaken belief that they have no real audience. The proliferation of small press publications in Texas is due at least as much to the quality of the output as it is to the quantity. Two large anthologies of Texas poetry that have appeared within the past four years bear witness to the new level of artistic achievement: my own The New Breed Foreman’s and Joanie Whitebird’s Travois the work of Texas poets who have attracted national attentionVassar Miller, Leon Stokesbury, Stan Rice, Robert Bonazzi, and William Burford among them. Walt McDonald is represented in both anthologies by poems which last year won him the Texas Institute of Letters award for poetry. In response to the increasingly distinguished work showing up in the state’s small press publications, Texas Monthly and The Dallas Morning News have given review space to such books as Lucille Press’s Giants and From Hell to Breakfast and Thorp Spring Press’s Travois, Lines & Mounds, and Beyond the Rivers. Reviews of The Killdeer Crying: Selected Poems of William Barney scheduled for winter issues of The Texas Quarterly, Western American Literature, and Choice. Small press grants Along with the interest taken by general circulation publications in the work of Texas’ small presses has come increased support for their activities from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Coordinating Council for Little Magazines, and the Texas Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Not only has the number of presses applying for aid tripled in the last year, but the average size of grants received has gone from about $3,000 to over $15,000. Latitudes Press has been awarded a $6,000 NEA grant to produce five books. Place of Herons and Cold Mountain have, between them, received $5,000 in NEA money, while Lucille, Caracol, Cedar Rock, Tejidos, and Espejos de la mujer have been given some $4,500 by the CCLM. The Texas commission expects at least a 2 percent rise in small press grants, perhaps much more. \(Commission awards are actually book purchase arrangements: the press selected sells a set number of copies to the commission for Texas library distribution, and then pays for postage, packaging and book seals. The result is that the press is assured of sales that can bring in an income as great as 50 percent of the total cost of a book’s publication; usually, however, the income realized comes to only about a To give an idea of the range of work produced by small presses in Texas, I will describe briefly some of the books they have published in the last five years. I begin with Prickly Pear Press of Fort Worth because it is probably the oldest publisher of the poetry chapbook \(a standard small press publication inexpensive, offset, stapled, usually about 40 pages, with a pressrun of 200 to Pear in late 1972, when I was living in Illinois and functioning as a longdistance editor and publisher of Texas verse. The first poet we printed was Jon Bracker, a man who has supported Texas poetry since the early ‘Sixties when he edited Penny Poems, first from Amarillo and later from Wichita Falls. Since Bracker, we have published Joseph Colin Murphey, a prominent Texas poet who has edited magazines in Huntsville, and, most recently, William 4 NOVEMBER 4,1977
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