Small Press

Small Press Interview: Queen’s Ferry Press

In this interview series, Monkeybicycle intern David Cotrone will be introduces you to a variety of small press editors and publishers.

This interview was conducted with Erin McKnight of Queen’s Ferry Press.



Monkeybicycle: When was Queen’s Ferry Press founded? What prompted you to want to start it?

Erin McKnight: Queen’s Ferry Press opened its doors to submissions August 1, 2011. As a new mother, I discovered that all of the emotions I’d felt for books as a child came roaring back as I immersed myself in long-forgotten texts; Enid Blyton reignited a dream I’d carried for years. Tending a baby and a press, as it turns out, is congruous.

Mb: At the time, why was Queen’s Ferry—and why is it still—necessary?

EM: My goal was—and remains—for the press to fill a void by publishing only collections of fiction. I’d like for Queen’s Ferry to serve as the venue for eclectic groupings of fine literary fiction.

Mb: What about Queen’s Ferry Press are you most proud of?

EM: Unquestionably our authors. I’m proud that the writers whose work I read and admire think enough of the press to submit their manuscripts—and enough of me to publish their writing! I like to believe that the resulting books represent these authors well, as highly as I regard them.

Mb: What do you look for when you’re open for submissions? What makes a project or manuscript worth taking on?

EM: Quality. Maturity. Confidence. If I find that as I’m reading I am also thinking about how I’d describe the book on its back cover, I’m decided. The manuscripts worth taking on are the ones that I can imagine myself reading and enjoying quite literally hundreds of times.

Mb: What does “indie” or “small press” mean to you? What do you think of such classifications and distinctions?

EM: One word springs to mind: passion. Passionate writers, publishers, and a readership that celebrates this driving force.

Mb: What sets your books apart from the rest?

EM: Although Queen’s Ferry focuses on collections, I like to think of the press’s catalog as suggesting a coherence yet also achieving singularity.

Mb: What’s your favorite part of your job?

EM: Holding a book that was once a manuscript. Saccharine, perhaps, but after countless hours of work it is its own reward.

Mb: For you, why are books so important?

EM: Without trying to sound too esoteric, I think books tell us about ourselves: the selves we were; the selves we want to be. Books keep us in touch with . . . us.

Mb: What other small presses do you admire? Why?

EM: Mud Luscious Press. Dzanc Books (and imprints). Dancing Girl Press. Rose Metal Press. Firewheel Editions. Tyrant Books. I could go on and on. These are some of the presses putting out books that I am anxious to read, and as a publisher I seek to emulate.

Mb: Do you have hope for the future of books?

EM: I do—in this business one has to preserve the hope that people will keep reading! I’d like to see books valued as objects worthy of owning, dare I say collecting?

Mb: Please share anything else you would like to say.

EM: Thank you for this inclusion—your attention humbles Queen’s Ferry.


David Cotrone is from Plymouth, MA. His writing appears in Fifty-Two Stories, The Rumpus, PANK, Paper Darts, Necessary Fiction, Thought Catalog, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and elsewhere. You can find him at

review + interview /// Heavy Petting by Gregory Sherl

Gregory Sherl is going to be huge. Plain and simple. His chapbook I Have Touched You won Dark Sky Books’ first chapbook contest and is a whirlwind of sex and want and loneliness and worry. Poems of panic or panicked poems. Then comes Heavy Petting, the inaugural perfect-bound release from Katherine Sullivan’s YesYes Books and the first full-length collection from Sherl, which is as much a torrent of poetry as I’ve never seen – lovely with bitterness and obsession and angst and the most earnest love. And because Sherl is not only awesome but accessible, we get to ask him some questions and report out at this Monkeybicycle hub:

In Bob Hicok’s foreword to Heavy Petting he says, of himself: ‘I made Greg Sherl write poems by telling him he was writing poems.’ Help us detail your side of this MFA conversation – what was this exchange like for you and what did it do to your writing?

The exchange that Bob explains in the foreword was exactly the exchange that happened. He called me into his office and he was like, “You’re a poet.” My thought: “You might be famous and important and people line up to take your class, but you’re fucking nuts, man.”

Still, I sat there holding my awkwardly red, chapped hands and listened to him tell me why I was a poet, not believing him.

I left that meeting confused. When I signed up for his poetry workshop, I did it because my friends were doing it. I had a spare class to take, so I figured why not. I had no idea who Bob Hicok was (I believe he knew this and was probably amused), and I had no idea what poetry was, either.

I had a lot to process.

I will say one thing: I have always felt the compulsion to write. So much so that it hurts sometimes. It sounds cliché (and is) and countless writers feel this way (and they should!), but it’s true. It wasn’t until I discovered poetry that I first started enjoying the actual act of writing. It used to be a chore I couldn’t stop doing—writing shitty short story after shitty short story—and then I discovered these poems, these sequences of lines that sometimes made sense but sometimes didn’t, and then, out of nowhere, I started enjoying the process, the discovery, the creation.

Bob Hicok raves about your poems – even dissects one in his foreword – what does that feel like as a poet, for your first collection, to have such an introduction from such a poet?

It started out as a joke. A “Hey, let me ask my poet hero to write a foreword for my poetry book that maybe twenty people will read.” Did I think he would say yes? No fucking way. But why not go big? You get one first full-length, you know? One. Why stop at a blurb, let’s get a fucking foreword. In a way it made sense. In a way I owe the book to him. If I had never met Bob Hicok, do I think I would have written a book that eventually might have been published? Sure, maybe. But would it have been a poetry collection? Doubtful. Almost impossible to say yes to that. This book starts at the beginning of my life as a poet. Poems in this collection, poems like “Notes on a Candy Cane Tree” and “Tampa,” these are some of my first “realized” poems. They happened in Bob’s workshop. They happened because of him.

What does it feel like? It feels like the most important part of the book. To me, it feels like the book wasn’t a proper book until Bob wrote those few words in those first few pages.

If we dive into the thematic movements of Heavy Petting, many of the poems are either overtly or covertly concerned with food or the consumption of objects or relationships. For instance, from “Opening Credits”’:

We kiss with our eyes closed.

I say You look like the kind of girl who should be on the cover of a box of cake mix.

For foreplay, you show me the knobs on your gas stove.

Or in ”Burnt Lemon Cookies Smell Bad”:

Like: even when I love you I get lonely. Eating Cocoa Puffs

gets lonely. Getting lonely gets lonely.

Or in “Fall Down the Stairs, I Will Catch Your Lonely Head”:

I say I love you like waterfalls love

shampoo commercials. There are only 5 calories in a serving

of Crystal Light. We drink like marathon runners. We drink

each other, drink each other like our fingers are straws

Can you talk to us about how this theme comes into your writing and what intentions it has (or you suppose it has)?

I used to have a joke that I couldn’t write a poem without referencing cereal. Why is this? I thought about it for a while until I realized how blatantly obvious it was: I really fucking love cereal. I eat it almost daily. Sometimes twice a day. The things that happen most in my life are the things that show up in my writing. I am from the school of “write what you know”. Rinse. Repeat. Write more.

Now, this school of “write what you know” has gotten me into a lot of trouble, and I am starting to steer away from this. You will see this a lot more after The Oregon Trail is the Oregon Trail and Monogamy Songs (a few projects are currently in the works, in very early stages, and they are very, very different than what I have been producing these last few years).

These days I am very excited about the future. I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Also, thematically, there is a studied focus on relationships, but always between a narrator of the poem (its voice) and an unseen third party (consistently referred to as ‘you’). Are we intended to be your ‘you’ in these poems? Are you targeting us, the reader, the audience? Or is there another reason for the ambiguity here, the openness to our own interpretation?

I want to say yes to all of this just because I don’t know how to answer these questions. I want my writing to target whoever is going to feel something after reading the book. If you felt something from a poem, a line, a word—then I was targeting you. And thank you for feeling.

Ambiguity. Sometimes emotions are so ambiguous, who knows where they came from or why they were there. Sometimes lines just show up and I didn’t ask them to show up but they showed up anyway. They might mean nothing to me, but they might mean something to someone else. Something good, I hope. If that’s the case, then I’m happy and I believe my poem is happy.

One other large thematic focus in Heavy Petting is that of meta-fiction (meta-poetry?) – references to the book itself or writing or poetry. For example, in “Fiction”:

This is what you tell me: you’re writing a book

about forever. My children are in the pages, their

children’s children.

Or in “I Read That in a Book”:

There are too many love poems

on my hard drive, so I’m murdering miss you with a chainsaw,

dropping it from an eight floor stairwell, watching every

letter that smells like you scatter like links from a broken


Or in “Master of Fine Arts”:

In Poetry Workshop, they tell me not to use pop culture references in my

poems. I cross out lines about necking with you in the backseat of my car

while listening to “La La Love You” on repeat. I cross out: Natalie Portman’s

hips are boss, but your hips are more boss.

How do you want this meta-fiction/poetry to function in your poems, and where does it come from?

I find myself constantly talking about myself. This is a bad habit. It is also probably very annoying (I apologize, I think). Anyway, some of my favorite pieces of pop culture are very self-referential, very self-aware of what they are and where they come from (Arrested Development, Kevin Smith, Adaptation, Bret Easton Ellis, Bukowski, Bob Hicok, etc.), so I’m sure much of my own writing was and will always be affected by this. I like the idea that whoever is reading my book is aware that they are reading my book. It is an object, an experience, I hope, and I never want to take myself so seriously that I have to disappear while the reader is having that experience with the object I created.

Remember me, reader, as selfish as that might sound.

I have always been so fascinated with the process of craft, or how something became that something. So, why not accomplish two things at once: Explain how that something was created while experiencing the thing that was created.

As you mentioned earlier, beyond Heavy Petting we can look forward to your novel(la) with Mud Luscious Press The Oregon Trail is the Oregon Trail and your forthcoming title with Future Tense Books Monogamy Songs. Can you give us a little sneak peak of each, or tell us what differences and similarities we can expect between Heavy Petting and these upcoming titles?

One of the first lines from The Oregon Trail is the Oregon Trail: “They think about your hair/while they’re inside their wives, think about/your dimple while they try to repair the axel/on their wagon.”

One of the first lines from Monogamy Songs: “K and I are always high-fiving after we fuck.”

There are so many differences between the two collections (so many!), but what I can say about The Oregon Trail and Monogamy Songs is this: they are both love letters. The Oregon Trail is a love letter to a computer game, a never ending fleeting moment from my youth, and Monogamy Songs is a love letter to love, this feeling of now, this hopeful feeling of forever. Love letters in the form of line breaks and page-long paragraphs about video games and a pretty girl whose name starts with K.

These are what these future books are, and I hope everyone who reads them truly enjoys them.

Thank you for asking me these questions, J.A., it was very kind of you.

I hope you all enjoyed reading them, at least a little bit.

Thanks for talking with us Greg! Heavy Petting is really a beautiful book full of beautiful poetry and I could ask a million more questions, but instead, I say to you, readers of this review + interview series: buy the book, digest it and start a relationship with Gregory Sherl, then email him some questions of your own – I’m sure, if I know anything about Mr. Sherl, that he will respond quickly and in kind.

Buy this book here. Read more about / from Gregory Sherl here.

I’m in this, but please don’t hold that against them.

Available for purchase online August 26th

Release party to be held in Milwaukee 
at Sky High Gallery

2501 S Howell Ave

Friday August 26th, 6:00 – 10:00 pm

Cassandra Smith & Jessica Steeber, co-owners of Fine Line Magazine, proudly announce the release party of their fourth issue, Subject to Change. Issue four features 7 artists from 3 countries, including works from earlier and later in their careers to speak to the theme of change. A limited 500 copies of the issue will be available for $10 each.

An exhibition of limited edition fine art prints will accompany the party. The exhibition includes prints by 7 current and prior Fine Line artists, available only in limited editions of 10. Print prices range from $20 to $40. 

Issue Four artists: Nina Nolte (Dusseldorf, Germany), Jesse Draxler (Los Angeles, CA), Angelina Gualdoni (Brooklyn , NY), Sherif Elhage (Paris, France via Beirut), Jaclyn Mednicov (Chicago, IL), David Maisel (San Francisco, CA), J. A. Tyler (Fort Collins, CO)

Prints available from: Jesse Draxler (Los Angeles, CA), Justin Richel (Rangeley, ME), Matthias Heiderich (Berlin, Germany),  Hollie Chastain (Chattanooga, TN), Masako Miki (Berkley, CA), Greg Eason (London, England), Benedetta Falugi (Follonica, Italy)

Fine Line Magazine

Milwaukee, WI

Have we met? Nouvella Books

from the editors of Nouvella:

“Dearest Readers,

As many of you already know, Flatmancrooked closed its doors in May this year. Nouvella is a new project springing from FMC’s New Novella imprint and the LAUNCH program, and the website went live yesterday. Head over to the site for more details and fancy hover-overs.

Also on the website, you’ll find e-book versions of Flatmancrooked novellas “If You’re Not Yet Like Me” by Edan Lepucki and “Your Rightful Home” by Alyssa Knickerbocker available for immediate purchase and download (and there are even some physical copies of “If You’re Not Yet Like Me” left if you hurry). The e-books can also be found on iTunes and Amazon if you’d prefer (but our website is pretty friendly).

Here we are on the various mediums:

Twitter: nouvellabooks

In immediate news, Nouvella is in the August issue of NYLON magazine as the “Meet the Press” feature! It ought to be hitting shelves this week or next, so keep your eye out for the cover with Olivia Wilde grabbing herself.

In August we will be releasing our debut novella, “The Last Repatriate” by Matthew Salesses. Stay tuned for release dates and information about the launch.

That’s all for now. Thanks for checking us out and for all your support with Flatmancrooked in the past. We can hardly wait for what’s up ahead.”


Short Flight / Long Drive

from Aaron Burch at Hobart, here is a little about the next three SF/LD books:

NowTrends, Karl Taro Greenfeld
(October 2011)

Karl Taro Greenfeld is the author of two memoirs and two non-fiction books, including Speed Tribes and Boy Alone, a Washington Post Best Book of 2009. His fiction has appeared in Best American Short Stories, The Paris Review, One Story, The Southern Review, Commentary, New York Tyrant and The Missouri Review, among other places. His non-fiction has appeared in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing, Best American Nonrequired Reading, Best Creative Non-fiction and Hustler Magazine.

I Have Blinded Myself Writing This, Jess Stoner
(February 2012)

I Have Blinded Myself Writing This was written by a woman with an affliction: her body needs her memories to clot her cuts, to heal means to lose parts of her past.  It is a collection of the blueprints, lists, and photographs of memory meant to be private.  It a book written for you.  It is a question: as we lose our memories, do we become fragments of ourselves? It is a plea: participate with me in the remembering and the destruction of memory.

Jess Stoner‘s choose-your-own adventure poetry chapbook,You’re Going to Die Jess Wigent, will be published by Fact-Simile late summer 2011. She writes book reviews for Necessary Fiction and her prose and poetry appear in Caketrain, Alice Blue Review, Everyday Genius, Horse Less Review and other handsome journals.  She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Denver and now lives in the brisket and sweat of Austin.

Other Kinds, Dylan Nice
(August 2012)

Dylan Nice is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program. He is working on a memoir-in-stories about his complicated childhood in the Allegheny Mountains. His work has appeared in NOON, Unsaid, Brevity, Dewclaw, Quick Fiction, and Gigantic.

The Dzanc Books Write-A-Thon

It’s that time of year again. Dzanc Books is hosting its annual write-a-thon fundraising event from July 21-24.

If you’re not familiar with the write-a-thon, it’s a four-day event where participants find sponsors and create new work based on a prompt provided by Dzanc Books. It raises money for the company’s nonprofit endeavors, including the Writer-In-Residence program, which places professional writers into classrooms to provide creative writing instructions to public school students, and the Dzanc Prize, an annual award recognizing one writer for both literary excellence and community service.

There are prizes, too, including free ebooks and paperbacks for those who raise the most money. Everybody wins!

For more information on this great event, including how to become a sponsor and how to participate, please visit the Dzanc site here.


Three books you’ll want to get:

HEAVY PETTING by Gregory Sherl (YesYes Books)

FREIGHT by Mel Bosworth (Folded Word Press)


Have we met? Black Ocean

Black Ocean is currently in subscription-drive mode, & their subscription is a brilliant offer:

The 2012 Subscription:

Includes one copy of the titles we will release in 2012 listed below.
Almost a 30% savings! And as always, free shipping!
Subscriptions ordered before July 1st will receive

Hunger Transit by Feng Sun Chen (Spring 2012)
Fjords by Zachary Schomburg (Spring 2012)
Handsome Vol. 4 (Spring 2012)
Dark Matter by Aase Berg, trans. Johannes Göransson (Fall 2012)
The Moon’s Jaw by Rauan Klassnik (Fall 2012)

Get in on it here.

Have we met? Happy Anniversary Sunnyoutside!

Buffalo’s Sunnyoutside, run by the wonderful and talented David McNamara, is six years old today, so to celebrate, we asked him a few questions about this milestone &, if you read to the end, you’ll get in on the super sweet deal they just posted in honor of six years of books!

Wow. Six years. Amazing. What does that mean to you? And what does it say about Sunnyoutside?

Honestly, it didn’t even occur to me until yesterday sometime. I just got the ARCs in for Mostly Redneck (Rusty Barnes’s next book with us), I’ve been setting up readings and events in May and June and July, and I’m in the middle of design and editorial for a few titles, not to mention the end of the ARC push for Next Analog Broadcast by Charly Fasano. So I guess it means that I still get to make books!

So how many titles is that in six years? And how many headaches? How many fits of love?

I think right now it stands at forty original books, so I guess I move pretty slowly. There have been a few broadsheets and reprints and special editions in there, too, but just the forty original paperbacks and chapbooks.

There haven’t been too many headaches beyond printing mishaps—and I’ve definitely gone through my share of printers, which is probably the main impetus to me falling into print brokering and trying to spare other presses those ordeals.

But each book has been its own love affair, and I’ve been pretty happy with my authors, and I’d like to think they’ve been pretty happy with me.

We aren’t asking you to pick favorites, but, any favorites?

Every title is a favorite on some list at some point, so it’d be hard to keep this response short if I were being fair to the titles.

Tell us a little about the accolades, awards, nominations, etc. that Sunnyoutside has garnered in the past six years?

Micah Ling’s Three Islands was a finalist for an Indiana Authors Award and also had a piece from it shortlisted for a Pushcart, which I think is probably the most attention a title has received. Nathan Graziano was named the unofficial poet laureate of Manchester (New Hampshire) by a local paper after we published Teaching Metaphors. Vouched Books has seen two of our titles fit for selection. We’ve had a fiction bestseller at Small Press Distribution (Chelsea Martin’s The Really Funny Thing About Apathy). And the University at Buffalo, Yale, and the University of Pittsburgh have all purchased the bulk of our titles for their special collections, which I reckon counts for something. But I think mostly the press flies under the radar—it’s the books that get the attention, and rightfully so.

Lastly, though we don’t want to be pushy, are there any deals in the works to celebrate this anniversary?  Maybe a little something something to entice our reading audience to check out your titles if they haven’t already?

We’re going for the simplest and most obvious of promotions and have everything (except our lone hardcover) on sale for $6 today:

Have we met? Blue Square Press

If you don’t know Blue Square Press, you should, & hey, right now they have a sweeeet deal in the ‘get to know you sense’: $20 for both Ben Spivey’s Flowing in the Gossamer Fold (which I reviewed for The Collagist) & Jack Boettcher’s Theater-State (pre-order info available here). $20 to get to know the first cuts from a spankin’ press is pretty damn good. Check it out.