Birds of a Feather

Last Friday, friends and fans–birds of a feather, one might say–joined poet Margaret Rogal in a reading in Vermont to talk about birders, birding, poetry, and the North Dakota landscape. Reporting from Middlebury, Margaret shared her after-event thoughts:

a lovely reading [of her Field Notes] at the Jewish community house, outside in the parking lot. Beautiful evening—cool with stars appearing as the skies darkened. Twenty-five people in attendance. One person said I should consider the stage, and another said, “adorable.” Hmmm—rather different comments! I’m struck, as I read, again, how unusual Field Notes is—a combination of natural history, art—thanks to you, Mike [Jacobs] (people comment on the watercolors frequently)­—and language. I’m so glad you brought it into the world! And I still like the poems.

Hope all is well in North Dakota.

Cheers, 
Margi

Congratulations, Margi! Field Notes, poetry by Margaret Rogal, illustrated by Mike Jacobs, is the first volume of our Little Book about North Dakota series. Check out this terrific review of the work here: Mike Jacobs Always in Season: Whimsical poems capture North Dakota birds – Grand Forks Herald | Grand Forks, East Grand Forks news, weather & sports

Margaret Rogal, reading from Field Notes in Middlebury, VT

 

Here is a sample of a two-page spread from our debut Little Book about North Dakota, featuring a full-color illustration by Mike Jacobs and one of Rogal’s poems.

NDSU Press Receives Grant

The NDSU Press has received a $15,000 grant from the Literary Arts Emergency Fund, which is administered by the Academy of American Poets, the Community of Literary Magazine and Presses and the National Book Foundation. In total, the fund has granted $4.3 million to 313 nonprofit literary arts organizations and publishers across the U.S. that have experienced continued financial losses due to COVID-19.

“Of the 313 presses receiving support, we are one of only seven university presses, including the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison, Letras Latinas at University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies and the University of Arizona Poetry Center,” said Suzzanne Kelley, NDSU Press editor in chief. “With paper shortages, higher costs and delays in printing and shipping, and multiple disruptions in the supply chain, we at NDSU Press are tasked daily to overcome industry challenges and expenses. This important one-time grant provides sure footing for our future.”

Check out the complete announcement at NDSU News: NDSU Press receives grant | NDSU News | NDSU

 

2021 NDSU Press Party

North Dakota State University Press Podcast
North Dakota State University Press Podcast
2021 NDSU Press Party
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The 2021 NDSU Press Party had presentations from Denise Lajimodiere, Paul Legler, Carolyn Dahl, and the friends and family of Timothy Murphy. The NDSU Press Party provides an annual presentation from the authors who published with NDSU Press each year and is held the first Thursday in March.

A Ponder & a Podcast

a note from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, North Dakota State University Press

 

These cold and blustery northern plains days are perfect for sticking around the home-front, preferably indoors and near a fireplace. Friday is a work-from-home day for me, and I look forward to hearing the washer agitate and the dogs snore as I edit and write and read and ponder the business of publishing.

Things went kablooey last week, over the weekend, and on into this week. There are five of us holding down the fort at the Press—none of us full time, and some of us just a very little bit of time, but all of us pulling our weight . . . except that two tested positive for Covid (and a third had a scare this morning) . . . and one of our designers injured her back . . . and our other designer was out of town . . . and I accidentally deleted ALL of my emails (which are slowly being recovered) . . . which meant very little went according to my master plan. It is only now, at the end of this week, with everyone returning, slightly bedraggled but smiling and ready to pitch in, that I feel like we’re in forward motion again. In fact, this afternoon I turned off my email, shut my office door, and left my office only to refresh my coffee. I got enough good work done to lift my spirits. Supply-chain challenges and Covid be damned . . . we can do this!

In fact, we have all kinds of exciting happenings to share in the coming days and weeks. Here’s one piece now!

Check out this just-out-today announcement—featured on the NDSU News page!—about our brand-spankin’-new podcast: NDSU Press announces new podcast | NDSU News | NDSU

Announcing our brand new NDSU Press Podcast!

 

Episode 1: Prakash Mathew on His New Book, We Are Called . . . To Do the Right Thing

North Dakota State University Press Podcast
North Dakota State University Press Podcast
Episode 1: Prakash Mathew on His New Book, We Are Called . . . To Do the Right Thing
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This is the first episode of the NDSU Press Podcast. In this episode, Prakash Mathew, the author of We Are Called to do the Right Thing: A Practical Guide for Leaders Based on Personal Reflections & Experiences from a Longtime Education Leader, sits down with host Oliver West Sime to discuss his leadership philosophies, his administrative career at NDSU, and the press circuit which followed the publication of his first book.

Prakash Mathew moved from India to Fargo in 1971. He Received a masters degree from North Dakota State University before embarking on a 38 year career at the university. Mathew worked his way up to Vice President for Student Affairs. We Are Called to do the Right Thing is Prakash Mathew’s first book.

North Dakota State University Press stimulates interdisciplinary scholarship of the Red River Valley, North Dakota, and the Great Plains, publishing peer reviewed scholarship, fiction, poetry, and more. To learn more about NDSU Press or purchase Prakash Mathews book, visit www.ndsupress.org or our Facebook page.

NDSU Press: Giving the region a voice.

Land of Sunlit Ice: Giving Region a Voice

note from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, NDSU Press

View from my front porch.

As I write, periodically gazing out my study window at a crisp, cold negative 24 degrees day, I revisit one of the first books I published when coming on board with NDSU Press. In a conversation with North Dakota Poet Laureate Larry Woiwode about his current work—back in the fall of 2015—we landed on the proposition of publishing a chapbook of poetry: Land of Sunlit Ice. We wouldn’t do it in simple fashion, but in alliance with newspaperman Allan Burke (the mover and shaker behind the Hunter Times and the Braddock News Letterpress Museums), the Iron Men of the South Central Threshing Association, and my Introduction to Publishing students. That inaugural project kicked off a series of publications, evolving into what we now call the Poetry of the Plains & Prairies (POPP) Award. January 17, 2022, kicks off our seventh call for poetry for this prestigious prize.

Hand-letterpressed covers, individually painted by Introduction to Publishing students, class of 2016.

Introduction to Publishing students from the class of 2016.

Pictured after installing a hanging propane furnace in The Braddock News Letterpress Museum in Braddock, N.D., are left to right, Ken Rebel of Bismarck, Tony Splonskowski of Bismarck, David Moch of Hazelton, Tracy Moch of Kintyre and Dave Duchscherer of Bismarck. They are all active in the South Central Threshing Association, Inc.

Getting off to a stellar start with this fabulous collection led not only to our chapbook series. The publication and the publicity surrounding our work led to our tagline: giving region a voice. I’d like to say that we thought of this all-encompassing phrase all by ourselves, but it came instead from an article about what we do, published in North Dakota Living’s article by Luann Dart “NDSU Press Gives Region a Voice.” At root, this simple tagline represents the mission of the press since its first conception in 1950. We are proud to continue that mission today.

But, what exactly is “region,” and how do we apply the term as a geographic and sensate parameter today?

Our mission statement declares that NDSU Press “exists to stimulate and coordinate interdisciplinary regional scholarship. These regions include the Red River Valley, the state of North Dakota, the plains of North America (comprising both the Great Plains of the United States and the prairies of Canada), and comparable regions of other continents.” We do this via publications in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. With our Contemporary Voices of Indigenous Peoples series, we sometimes step out of region, but on the whole, our mission represents region as defined herein.

Still, on the topic of “region,” enter once again Mr. Woiwode. In a recent interview, Woiwode addresses an ever-burbling question about defining our particular region, with a push to include our region as an outlier of the Midwest. To this, Woiwode responds:

Once, talking heads and weather-people on TV became commonplace, the Midwest started to stretch from Pennsylvania to Nevada—perhaps because media people don’t often travel from their studios on the coasts. Iowa and Illinois and Indiana are at the heart of the Midwest, with Wisconsin and southern Michigan and perhaps western Ohio as participants, but northern Minnesota and North and South Dakota and Montana and Wyoming are definitely not the Midwest . . . Nebraska clings closer to South Dakota and Wyoming than any midwestern state, and the grounding in evidence and practicality of the area comes naturally, because many resident families were farmers or ranchers for generations. Neither occupation runs on theory.

I rejoice at this clarification, for it fits my own recognition of our region, and it clarifies how “comparable” regions might well be defined.

Woiwode’s next statement also lands squarely with my understanding of writers of region, based on my own research in memory and collective memory.

My sense is that a writer’s first steps onto terra firma, the place where the writer learns to walk, whether prairie or high plains or beach or forest or the floor of an apartment and on to concrete and asphalt, that place is the locus of creative power, even if never referred to—it’s the center and source of the words that arrive from one who travels the distance of a novel or collection of stories or enough poems to generate the microcosm of a genuine interior. The rhythms and the texture of the language of that place will always be present in all the creative work that follows.

Genius. That rhythm and texture, that locus of creative power in a work about region—these are the golden threads of what we seek in our publications, from chapbooks of poetry to the magnum opus of a book about turkeys that we have now in production.

 

Related notes:

Submissions to the Poetry of the Plains & Prairies Award will run January 17 through March 17. We seek collections of poetry, 30-35 pages in length (one poem per page; single poems may extend beyond one page) by a single author. There is no submission fee. Send manuscripts to NDSU Press Submission Manager (submittable.com)

Land of Sunlit Ice, by Larry Woiwode (2016, out of print). For more information on our chapbook projects, view Thunderbird & The Land of Sunlit Ice, produced by Sandbagger News.

Larry Woiwode has been North Dakota Poet Laureate since 1995. Born in Carrington, ND, he spent his early, formative years on the land in the farming community of Sykeston. He is widely (and wildly successfully!) published with poetry, novels, biographies, essays, and memoirs.

Woiwode interview quotes from Middle West Review, Volume 8, Number 1, Fall 2021, p. 206.

How NDSU Press Acquires Manuscripts

from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher / Editor in Chief

At NDSU Press, we accept manuscript submissions year-round. There are no fees to submit manuscripts for publication consideration, and we seek works in nonfiction, fiction, and poetry. This past year, from January 1 through December 31, 2020 , we received more than one hundred manuscripts and about a dozen manuscript proposals for publication consideration.

Searching through this lot for the best manuscripts requires a considerable amount of reading and due deliberation. While I am on a constant search for the best scholarly and literary works, I must also be conscientious about balance in filling out our catalog for each year. We cannot publish only poetry or only fiction, and we choose not to publish only scholarly works. We can select only six to ten works for publication annually.

As we are completely self-funded—reliant upon sales and donations for all our operations—I must also be aware of what kinds of books will situate well in the market and how the balance of our creative and scholarly works can produce a return on investment.

Paying close attention to scholarly research and literary contributions, all within the parameters of the mission of the press, is more than a guess-and-by-golly proposition. The process requires being mindful of where we have gaps in knowledge and what kinds of works can reach an interested audience, and we must be aware of current pricing trends in printing and distribution. The process also recognizes that while our production schedule mirrors those of big publishers like Random House, we are not publishing on the same commercial scale. Our mission is generally focused upon scholarly, intellectual, and creative works of regional interest. Like a puzzle piece, each acquisition must contribute to the whole picture, balanced in content and profitable.

A crucial element to getting things right in our acquisitions process is to follow the professional standards of peer review for university presses. The best practices for peer review, as proposed by the Association of University Presses, may be found here.

Our process for manuscript acquisitions—in accord with best practices—has four stages, each building upon the other for making the final selections.

  • In-house review, wherein I make a first determination about whether a manuscript meets our mission for publication and has a potential market or audience.
  • Blind peer review, wherein two experts in the field—unknown to each other and to the author—make an assessment about manuscripts that have passed muster for stage 1. At this stage, I rely upon professionals knowledgeable about the scholarship and/or writing style in the manuscript. I have worked with reviewers who are located locally, within our state, regionally, nationally, and even internationally. Peer reviewers provide a summary overview of the work, noting strengths and weaknesses, gaps or omissions, and they make one of the following recommendations:
    • Accept (manuscript merits publication; some revisions may be requested)
    • Reject with invitation to re-submit (manuscript does not merit publication in its present form but has potential; requires substantial revision)
    • Reject (does not merit publication)
  • Consultation with the author, wherein—if the reviewers have recommended publication or resubmission—the author and I go over each of the reviewers’ observations and recommendations. The author and I map out a plan for addressing the recommendations, and we develop a timeline for the author to deliver the revised manuscript.
  • Certification by the Editorial Advisory Board, wherein I make a summary report, providing our board members with descriptions of the reviewers’ areas of expertise and experience, the reviewers’ comments, the author’s response, and a copy of the manuscript. The Editorial Advisory Board, comprised of faculty and lay-persons at large with a variety of backgrounds and expertise, scrutinize the submissions, ask questions related to content and catalog, and—if everything is in good order—affirms that we have followed all of the standard university press peer review procedures. The board’s certification determination reads as follows:

I certify that [manuscript title], having undergone the peer review process, has scholarly, intellectual, or creative merit for publication with NDSU Press. I further find that this work contributes to scholarly knowledge of region (that is, discovery of new knowledge) or to public consciousness of region (that is, dissemination of information, or interpretation of regional experience).

Following all of these steps keeps us on our toes, and by sheer number of submissions, I am not always able to render a quick response to writers. This is our process, though, and it is thus far working splendidly. In fact, in the next few days, I will be sending two nonfiction manuscripts to our Editorial Advisory Board to seek certification for that fourth step of the acquisitions process.

If you would like to become one of our blind peer reviewers and assist in this important process, I invite you to visit our online submissions portal at Submittable and add your area of interest to our Manuscript Reviewer Database.

Dr. Suzzanne Kelley is assistant professor of practice and editor in chief for NDSU Press. She directs the Certificate in Publishing program and manages all aspects of NDSU Press operations.  Suzzanne is a graduate of University of Texas–Austin, summa cum laude, with a BS in Applied Learning & Development. She holds an MA in History from the University of Central Oklahoma, where she was honored with the Edward Everette Dale Graduate Student Award. Suzzanne graduated from North Dakota State University with her PhD in History, and she has been working in publishing since 2002, first with scholarly journals and then in book publishing since 2005.  She is a member of the honor societies Pi Lambda Theta, Phi Alpha Theta, and Phi Kappa Phi, where she is the immediate past president. Suzzanne is at present serving a second term as president of the Midwest Independent Publishers Association.

 

The Folk School on Willow Creek

Publisher note from Suzzanne Kelley

Welcome to the Folk School on Willow Creek, featuring University Distinguished Professor Tom Isern, singing and telling stories from the Salon on Willow Creek. Every Friday evening, 8:00 p.m. Central Time, Isern belts out ballads and tells the backstories of the lyrics, the authors, and the people of the plains who sang the songs. This Friday, July 25, he’ll feature “The Letter Edged in Black.” Do you know the significance of the edging? Tune in . . . you’ll find out. The Folk School lasts about 30 minutes, but you’ll wish it lasted longer. This week’s program is the 14th in the series.

Here is a link to Prairie Public’s Main Street, where host Doug Hamilton interviewed Isern just this week about the Folk School.

And here is a link to the Folk School page on Facebook.

2020-07-17 20.14.19

National, Regional, and State Awards

note from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, NDSU Press
Our publishing year has been phenomenal, with record-breaking sales and national, regional, and even state book awards that have us all marveling at our good fortune. Check out this list just for 2018:
  • Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction–General, Moonbeam Children’s Book Award: Apple in the Middle, by Dawn Quigley
  • First Place, North Dakota Library Association Notable Document Award: The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson.
  • Third Place, North Dakota Library Association Notable Document Award: The Bakken: An Archaeology of an Industrial Landscape, by William Caraher and Bret Weber
  • Gold Medalist, IPPY Awards, Cover Design: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones; cover design by Jamie Hohnadel Trosen
  • Bronze Medalist for Midwest–Best Regional Nonfiction, IPPY Awards: The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson.
  • Bronze Medalist for Science, IPPY Awards: North Dakota’s Geologic Legacy, by John P. Bluemle
  • Finalist, Autobiography/Memoir, Foreword INDIES Award: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones
  • Finalist (of three), LGBT Nonfiction, Foreword INDIES Award: Derby Girl: A Memoir, by Sammi Jones
  • Finalist (of three), Arts/Photography/Coffee Table Books, Midwest Book Awards: Music at NDSU, by Robert Groves
  • Finalist (of three), Fiction–Literary/Contemporary/Historical, Midwest Book Awards: This Could Have Been a Simple Story, by Ajla Terzic, Translated from the Bosnian by John K. Cox
  • Finalist (of three), Social Science/Political/Culture, Midwest Book Awards: Prairie Mosaic: An Ethnic Atlas of Rural North Dakota, 2nd Edition, by William C. Sherman, new Introduction by Thomas D. Isern
  • Finalist (of three), Social Science/Political/Culture, Midwest Book Awards:The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson.
  • Total Book Design (of three), Midwest Book Awards: The Prairie Post Office: Enlarging the Common Life in Rural North Dakota, by K. Amy Phillips and Steven R. Bolduc, with history by Kevin Carvell and photographs by Wayne Gudmundson; cover and interior design by Deb Tanner
Sydney Olstad and Suzzanne at IPPYS

Sydney Olstad (at left)–a graduate of NDSU and one of the publishing students (now working as a copywriter in New York!) who worked on the book team for Derby Girl: A Memoir and NDSU Press Editor in Chief Dr. Suzzanne Kelley, bringing home the Gold and Bronze from the Independent Publisher  Book Awards Gala (IPPY), May 28, 2018, at The Copacabana, NYC.  Joining in the fun were cover designer Jamie Hohnadel Trosen, author Sammi Jones, and Hayley Burdett, contract manager and former publishing student now working in New Jersey with literary agents and “the Big Five” publishing houses. Photo by Jamie Hohnadel Trosen.

 

 

Paper Camera

note from Suzzanne Kelley, Publisher, NDSU Press
Today my students will be talking about various aspects of publishing gleaned from their reading of Paper Camera: A Half Century with New Rivers Press. This anthology is a project of (I hate to say former, because I am grateful that most of them are still in my life today) colleagues, authors, and students from my days at New Rivers. Here is the poem–written by Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen–that inspired the title of our book:
 
The Paper Camera
 
Someone should invent
a paper camera,
and we could all live
happily ever after
on a page where
the ink is pressed deep
into the words you
are reading now–
words that tell us
how sweet
it was to be alive
in the days of print
and how easy it was
to say sparrow
even in the middle
of winter.
————————-
21535431

Paper Camera is a history of New Rivers Press, told through the memories of its founder and the people who have worked with the press over the decades from 1968 to 2015.  The editors are Suzzanne Kelley and Alicia Strnad Hoalcraft, and the anthology authors include Alan Davis, Thom Tammaro, Deborah Keenan, David Haynes, Clint McCown, Charles Baxter, and many more, with a contribution of ten previously unpublished poems by Joyce Sutphen.