New Rivers Press starts celebration of 45 years
New Rivers Press will be 45 years old in 2013, and the literary press founded by the late C.W. (Bill) Truesdale is starting the celebration this week with an evening of readings by Nick Healy, Sharon Suzuki-Martinez, Nick Knittel and Tim Nolan.
There will be music by Minnesota singer, songwriter andguitarist Diane Jarvi, who writes poetry as Diane Jarvenpa. Her third collection, “The Tender, Wild Things,” was published by New Rivers in 2007.
When Truesdale died in 2001, New Rivers was the oldest continuously publishing press in the country. After some tense months when it looked as though it would fold, New Rivers found a home at Minnesota State University-Moorhead. Since the first New Rivers books published in Moorhead came out in 2003, next year will also be the press’s 10th anniversary at MSU.
“I think Truesdale would be proud,” said Alan Davis, New Rivers senior editor and co-director. “We’re trying to continue his legacy while going in other directions.”
Davis, whose story collections were published by New Rivers, and MSU colleague Wayne Gudmundson were leaders in getting New Rivers moved to Moorhead. Gudmundson is phasing into retirement and the current co-director and managing editor is Suzzanne Kelley.
One of Truesdale’s innovations was establishment in 1980 of the Minnesota Voices Project, open to Midwest writers who had never had a book published. Nobody else was paying attention to struggling writers then, especially those from what was
considered “flyover land.” Winning the MVP competition helped launch the careers of writers such as Emilio DeGrazia, Madelon Sprengnether, Kathleen Coskran, Mark Vinz, Deborah Keenan, Ruth Roston and Margaret Hasse.
When New Rivers moved to Moorhead, Minnesota Voices Project went national and was renamed Many Voices Project. The competition annually draws several hundred manuscripts in poetry and prose from writers seeking the $1,000 prize in each category.
This year’s winners — the 125th and 126th — are Healy for his story collection “It Takes You Over” and Suzuki-Martinez for her book of poetry, “The Way of All Flux.”
Nolan’s first book of poems, “The Sound of It,” won a 2009 Many Voices prize and was a Minnesota Book Award finalist.
Nolan, an attorney who has been writing poems for nearly 40 years, admits that before New Rivers accepted that manuscript he was ready to give up on getting a book published. Now he’s celebrating publication of “And Then,” his second New Rivers book.
Knittel is already a winner. His story collection, “Good Things,” won Fairfield University’s first-ever Fairfield MFA book prize. Knittel received his MFA in fiction writing at the Connecticut-based school.
New Rivers also publishes “American Fiction,” an anthology series devoted to unpublished stories by emerging writers. Volume 12, with stories selected by award-winning writer Josip Novakovich, is just off the presses. Robin McLean, a contributor to the new anthology, is flying in from the East Coast to read with the other four New Rivers writers.
When Truesdale founded New Rivers Press in 1968 in a shed in Massachusetts, working on an old Chandler & Price letterpress, nobody could have foreseen the rise of e-publishing. More than 330 books later, New Rivers just announced an Electronic Book Series.
What: New Rivers Press readings by Nick Healy, Sharon Suzuki-Martinez, Nick Knittel and Tim Nolan, and celebration of “American Fiction, Volume 12: The Best Unpublished Stories by Emerging Writers” with Robin McLean
When/where: 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8, Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis