BY LISA MARIE BASILE
I'm sure plenty of you know a few of these, but allow me, for those who might not, to introduce and love on the presses that are currently sending me into literary-body-psychic overdrive. What does this actually mean? It means I've been devouring their books for some time or that I've discovered their new work, or am re-reading their older work and losing my mind over it again and again. I believe that these presses and journals are doing beautiful, unique things, and I love the voices and work they're putting out there. To blood and beauty!
If you could press your hand against my chest, you would feel my heart fluttering. Wakefield Press is one of my new favorites, and it should be yours, too. Devoted to 'overlooked gems' in translation, literary oddities, and elegant packaging (oh god they are so good to us), this press is bringing immense beauty to the literary landscape.
I just got my hands on:
2. Siren Songs
Joanna C. Valente, managing editor here at Luna Luna, runs an imprint on Civil Coping Mechanisms—and they're publishing Devin Kelly, Cooper Wilhelm, Jayy Dodd, and Omatara James. Literally am waiting on the edge of my fucking seat. The press seeks work by queer, trans, nonbinary, women and people of color.
OK. So Inside the Castle runs a residency in October called Castle Freak. Do you feel that? That's me having an orgasm. This press is deliciously dark and strange, and everyone should check out their dedication to literature that does more. They publish 'difficult poetry and prose poetry.' Wouldst thou pick me up from the floor?
I just discovered this gem—they publish women artists and writers, and the magazine itself is filled with unique, beautiful work. It feels like you're flipping pages as you move through the beautiful site.
Full disclosure: I'm in a full-on romantic relationship with this press and journal. They might not know it, but I do. They've always been my go-to for good reading, they publish superb books, and they even chose my manuscript Nympholepsy as a finalist in their 2017 book awards. Their work is tight, well-crafted, and aesthetically inclined.
Just click click click and indulge in the beauty. Their about page says, "Unreliable sources have claimed that OCCULUM is David Lynch’s favorite lit journal. This in turn, is also unreliable." Which, yes, please. They're ok with 'semi-normies' (lol no one here) but they publish speculative fiction and 'species' of poetry. Their peculiarities are why I dearly love them.
As someone with a chronic illness, I love the fact that Monstering Mag makes a space for discussions around the body, disabled experiences, nombinary voices, and illness. Their work is vulnerable, necessary, and thoughtful.
8. Spork Press
Run by Richard Siken (I know he's your favorite, too), this lit journal and press puts out some fantastic work. Each issue is like a mini car crash you can't look away from. The work is always tight as fuck.
Just discovered their 'Romanian poet' issue, and I'm in love. It's so important that we are treated to translated work, and I'm so glad to see journals like this one do the heavy lifting.
10. Action Books
One of my favorite all-time presses, Action Books makes books that make me weep and then go write books that make other people weep. And repeat. There isn't a single solitary book in their catalogue that won't break your heart and threaten your ideas of the literary status quo. You will realize what you've been missing. You will drown in it. The work is transcendent of what we know and understand and accept.
With their focus on the radical and mystical, this queer collective produces books that are loud and heavy in your hands. And always beautiful. Also, they've got a "west coast lean," which, to a New Yorker, means there's a hazy intoxicating palm tree ocean spray magic to it all. Their books also LOOK delicious. And, they focus on giving a voice to identities often excluded from the conversation.
Grimoire, like Luna Luna, makes a space for the occult alongside their literary selections. The work is stellar, and their little spell-treats and seances are especially to die for. I love this journal and can't wait to keep reading each new issue.
So apparently I was late to the party with Dreginald. Just discovered how awesome they are, and I am blown away. Their selections are carefully crafted, insanely unique, and they prick at you—leaving you feeling the wound long after you've left the site. Also, DREGINALD. Just say it.
Bonus Round: new journals
14. Bad Pony
This magazine is brandy-new, insanely beautiful, and not yet live. Their mission says, "We are a very bad pony. Maybe we have always been that way. Maybe we had a particularly bad childhood where instead of hay or grass, we were fed a large amount of Starburst," which has done me in. I am ready for this bad bad pony.
Our very own Nadia is launching her own literary magazine this Friday—and we can't wait. Nadia's eye for beautiful, audacious work helps shape Luna Luna, so I can't wait for her dreamy creation.
Lisa Marie Basile is an editor, writer and poet living in NYC. She is the founding editor-in-chief of Luna Luna Magazine and the author of APOCRYPHAL (Noctuary Press, 2014), as well as a few chapbooks: Andalucia (Poetry Society of New York), War/Lock (Hyacinth Girl Press), and Triste (Dancing Girl Press). Her bookNYMPHOLEPSY (co-authored with poet Alyssa Morhardt-Goldstein), was a finalist in the 2017 Tarpaulin Sky Book Awards. She is working on her first poetic fiction novella, to be released by Clash Books/Clash Media.