Old Press, New Look: Alice James Books Heralds Big Change

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Old Press, New Look: Alice James Books Heralds Big Change

Alice James Books, one of the oldest established poetry presses in the country, is announcing significant change to its forty-year-old organization. The press is renewing its initial mission to support women writers. It will also launch the Alice James Award, which will now be the sole manuscript competition offered by Alice James Books. Submissions are currently being accepted for the November 1 deadline.

These transformations come via the vision of AJB’s new Board of Directors, which was formally instated in April. “For years we had one valiant Board, which handled everything from reading manuscripts to approving budgets. We are excited to announce the creation of a Board of Directors to enable the press to strengthen its financial base as it continues to expand,” said Board President Anne Marie Macari, “Help is here with a new board to handle business concerns and fundraising, while the editorial board renews its focus on what it does so well: bringing the best books of poetry they can find to AJB!”

The press will also focus on fostering publishing relationships with its writers. “We want to support AJB authors by offering them constancy—a home at Alice James,” said Carey Salerno, who has served at the helm of the press for nearly six years as its Executive Director, “We did not have a solid mechanism for doing that until now.” In April, Salerno was also named AJB’s Executive Editor, a title adjustment that offers her more autonomy in cultivating the press’s list beyond its contest, the Alice James Award. “My vision is to support current Alices and to bring in new poets with an emphasis on women,” she said.

On the redirection of its mission, Salerno also stated, “The press was founded in 1973 in support of women poets, so we will return to our roots by reaffirming this commitment. The press, however, will still continue to support and publish excellent writers, whether they identify themselves as men, women, or transgender.”

Macari also noted, “From the first book by Jane Kenyon to the first book of poems to come out of the Iraq war by Brian Turner, AJB has consistently taken risks on unknown writers, and we will continue to do so. What’s harder than getting a first or second book of poems published? Often it’s the third or fourth book. Looking forward we want Carey Salerno, our Executive Editor, to be able to cultivate and retain more of our own authors. We have launched so many poets—it’s time to keep a few of them home.”

The press’s new Board of Directors is led by Anne Marie Macari, Jan Heller Levi, Craig Morgan Teicher, and Peter Waldor. Their aim is to strengthen the nonprofit press’s visibility, leadership, and programming. Of their board membership, Levi noted, “I’m grateful that I get to give something back for the next generation of readers and writers,” and Teicher said, “I’m honored to join the board of Alice James, a press I’ve loved as long as I’ve loved poetry, and one of the central publishers of new poets in the US. I look forward to helping the press broaden its influence on American letters and publish more imperative poetry.”

To learn more about Alice James Books, visit www.alicejamesbooks.org

Carey Salerno, Executive Editor
AJB office: 207.778.7071
Email: carey.salerno@alicejamesbooks.org