Friday, November 8, 2013

On the Birth of The Wineberry Press

“Not sure we should call it Mulberry Press,” Peggy hesitates. “Mulberries messy, fall to earth, don’t do anything.”

 “Mulberries are pesky,” Elaine says. “A nuisance, they irritate. Like certain poems, or poets.”

 Our mulberries are delicious. The first book from our future—what may be The Mulberry Press—will be an anthology of poems by ten poets: my students, most older than I. Elinor Castendyk Briefs, Maxine Combs, Lucia Dunham, Elizabeth Follin-Jones, Barbara Goldberg, Elaine Magarrell, Mariquita Mullan, Elizabeth Sullan, Margaret Weaver. Their idea, an anthology, but I suggest they first submit their poems to journals, see if editors consider their poems good enough to publish individually first. Though I don’t think anthologists should include their own poems, they insisted mine be.

 Journals indeed accept the submissions. We can create an anthology. But what can we call the book? The press? Pomegranate Press? Persimmon Press? Maine poets can create the Blueberry Press. South East Asian poets, The Durian Press, Rambutan Press…Mango…

 “Our garden is prickly with wineberry vines!” I realize.

 “Poor man’s raspberries…”

 The Wineberry Press is incorporated. We are all on the editorial board. When we find a name—

 The Wineberry Press publishes Finding the Name 1983. We can only afford a one-color cover: naturally it is purple. For the launch, we all wear purple stockings.

 Over the years, sporadically as the fruit, The Wineberry Press produced new books of stories or poems: unusual, experimental, most skinny, collections conventional big presses would scorn. Our authors include Beatrice Campbell-Murphy Get With It Lord!, Maxine Combs Swimming out of the Collective Unconscious, Judith McCombs 20/20 Visionary Eclipse / Whorling Try/Angles, Elizabeth Follin-Jones Nobody Here is Listening, Elizabeth Stevens Horse and Cart, and after a long sabbatical, Maxine Combs Waiting for Wings and Elspeth Cameron Ritchie Tearing through the Moon: Poems & Prose of an Army Psychiatrist. All have gone on to publish other books, and Beatrice Campbell-Murphy had already published “one of the first anthologies of Negro Poetry— and yes, we called it that back then.”


by Elisavietta Ritchie

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