Chris Rizzo on Anchorite Press

How long has Anchorite Press been in existence? And could you speak about the history of Anchorite and how the Press has evolved into its present state?

I started the press in 2003. At first, I took on small projects, such as broadsides. With each project, I better developed my understanding of both design and production. For example, Michael Carr’s tri-fold pamphlet Indiana was the logical precursor to Geof Huth’s tri-fold pamphlet forkèd lake. Conceptually, I knew what I’d wanted to do with Indiana, but pragmatically I hadn’t any hands-on experience, so to speak. Thus, when Geof sent me his ms., I had a much better understanding of what one could do with the tri-fold form. The same holds true for chapbooks.

This said, I’ve also tried to develop the press by way of studying the publications produced by other small presses. What fonts are used and how are they used? What size is the book? What papers are used and how are they used? How is the book bound? How do the design elements relate to one another and to the given text? What are the ramifications? And so on. I tend to ask questions of artifice to not only learn about the particular book in my hands, so to speak, but in general terms to learn as much as I can about the art of printing as well.

How many titles has Anchorite Press published?

Over the past few years Anchorite has done single sheet broadsides, folded broadsides, pamphlets and chapbooks. (I consider a pamphlet to be a much smaller, less ambitious project than a chapbook.) I do have publication lists, but there are just too many to mention here. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to remember all of them off the top of my head.

How does Anchorite Press chose its projects?

Good question. Anchorite publishes the work of young poets who, generally speaking, have very few publications to speak of; I’ve made a couple of exceptions in the past, but that’s the fundamental guiding principle. Because the press is limited in scope, I usually solicit material, but, again, I’ve made exceptions to this rule.

After hearing Noah Eli Gordon read his long poem “What Ever Belongs In The Circle,” I asked him for a copy, gave the poem a read, and then asked him if he’d like to do a chapbook. The current Anchorite project underway is a chapbook entitled The Parrot Bride by Theo Hummer. After receiving a query letter from Theo, I read the ms. and decided to take on the project. So, I find poetry to publish and poetry to publish finds me; although, as I said earlier, I usually solicit material.

Do you select your projects based on what you consider to be your, "company of poets", i.e. poets who you feel some sort of kinship with based on their work, or is the selection done according to a different sense of community?

I usually select linguistically challenging poetry to publish. Anchorite did develop out of a “company of poets” in and around the Boston area, but I have tried to expand the horizons of the press a bit. Having recently relocated to Albany, I hope the press will at some point begin to reflect the community of artists and thinkers in the area. In other words, at this point in time Anchorite publishes young poets, but this may not always be the case.

How do you fund Anchorite Press?

My wallet. And donations. Anchorite isn’t big enough, in my opinion, to list as a non-profit and, therefore, funding resources are limited. When I began the press, I used what’s commonly referred to as “disposable income” to put out new publications. The costs aren’t overwhelming, though. Chapbooks are the most expensive ventures, of course, but due to the fact that I do all the work in house—designing, typesetting, printing, folding, cutting, and binding—I can produce the books in a relatively inexpensive way. Such a handmade manner of production has shaped the look and feel of Anchorite publications.

Anchorite Press seems to keep a somewhat low profile, in terms of distribution and publicity, not esteem, can you speak to why you’ve decided to use this approach to publishing?

Out of necessity. As I’d mentioned earlier, each project is done by hand, which saves money, but costs me quite a bit of my own time. To date, I’ve yet to find a proverbial partner in crime to take over some of the existing press responsibilities. If I had more time, I’d publicize more often. By and large I leave PR duties to the poets themselves.

Anchorite Press seems perhaps more DIY than any other press I know of, you have a hand in every part of the process, beyond financial considerations, why have you chosen this approach?

Simply put? Megalomania!

In all seriousness though, this question ties directly into your previous question. I enjoy the process of bookmaking, especially on such a small scale, where each book in a run is given individual attention. The press began as a one man show, so to speak, and I’ve tried to do as much as one person can do with a small press. Friends have helped along the way with design considerations, production, readings for new publications, etc., which leaves me tremendously grateful. As I’d mentioned before, I’m open to the idea of partnership, but that simply hasn’t happened yet.

You have spoken about approaching Anchorite Press more as a record label than a publishing house, could you explain the difference and why this different model?

This is a tough question. When I first began to discover small press publications, I likened them to both independent music and film. In other words, the art made a way into the world via a small budget and, for lack of a better phrase, creative ingenuity, not to mention both the willpower and the desire to “get the work out there” as Creeley might have said. Anchorite Press is a tiny establishment; in other words, when I say that the work is done “in house,” I mean my house, which so far as I can see is analogous to recording a band in either a garage or a basement studio.

My other thoughts on the subject are far more problematic. Suffice it to say, however, that to view the press as an independent record label rather than a publishing house deflates any sense of literary officialdom that hangs over the head of the business of books. To put it simply, I hope to circumvent traditional publishing venues that embrace the phrase “publishing house,” for in the main such venues need to embrace consumer culture as well.

Anchorite seems to publish avant/newer poetry while maintaining a considered historically conscious design. Could you speak about the relationship between small press publishing and writing past and present and how you envision Anchorite’s role in all of this?

Well, I can speak directly to the last part of your question, viz., Anchorite’s relationship to small presswork and historically conscious design. I first became interested in publishing after learning a bit about the history of the book. There were several texts that caught my interest, especially The Coming of the Book by Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin. Anatomy of a Typeface, A Book of the Book, Texts on Type, and The Elements of Typographic Style are all texts that immediately come to mind as well. Through reading, I’ve learned much about how books—both generally and particularly speaking—have come into being. So far as I can see, to look at an historical model, such as a Scolar’s facsimile of Pope’s An Essay on Man, is just as instructive as the study of Gerrit Lansing’s A February Sheaf, published by Pressed Wafer in 2003. I analyze the design and break it down into fundamental elements, elements which may or may not prove useful to me as a designer in the future. I touched on this subject earlier, when I spoke of how Anchorite evolved into its present state.

Are there other small presses or magazines whose work you find worthy of mention?

More than I could mention here, for certain. The amount of terrific small press and magazine work that’s being done today is overwhelming. To answer your question specifically, though, I’d need to know what you mean by “small.” In other words, there are small presses and then there are small presses, Anchorite being among the latter of the two. Examples of the former would be Green Integer, Sun & Moon, or The Figures. One new small press that has impressed me very much is Katalanché, edited by Michael Carr and Dorothea Lasky. They’ve not only produced good looking chapbooks, but have done magazine type ventures as well, such as American Weddings.

What do you envision for the future of Anchorite Press?

I envision more of the same in the immediate future. I hope that Anchorite will be able to expand and eventually file for non-profit status, begin using ISBN numbers, etc. That takes dedication by more than one person, as I’d suggested earlier. At the moment, there are chapbooks to print, upon which I’m focused. Who knows, really, what in the future will happen.

Anchorite Press


Penny Dreadful

Is the name of the new manuscript, I'm working on. It totals 55 poems. Here is a sneak preview:

Fair Wind to Java

he said no more about it
Goodsby commissioned a carver
the likeness, pictures of the subject
a liberal cash advance, his wealth in demijohns
when his stout back gave in the breeze
background of fluid scrolls
the carver’s former passion or the awful
stock shave there slapped a traditional figurehead
on him, a voyage? a matter of form you’ll
excuse for exonerating purposes those in the
fold causing the old boy the various scales
coordination of mental skills asked for tools
and material to reconcile a worthless basin
the grasping Dutch is boon nature belch and
prime both memory and tongue a slow history
said aloud starboard quarter at last
drawn out it is for the best for you to have always been
like that, dying of scurvy to no effect of these without
a chaperon duck at the bazaars the deck in
twilight spoke with zest every mortal some
beguiling drug want to miss, or sanction, isn’t it?
gone to Dutch with that with your wording
all the cards forehead bowed who is Pluto
Blesar? ten fingers touched I suspected
hands down talk does not lessen


Missed Tony's contest, the poetry one, sent him one early today, he said I was disqualified.


Lyric Poetry After Auschwitz-Kent Johnson
Artificial Lure-Clayton Couch
My Vote Counts-Dale Smith

thus completing, for now my Effing chapbook collection

Magpie Words-Richard Caddel
A Geology-Clark Coolidge
The Angel Hair Anthology-Anne Waldman & Lewis Warsh, editors


order & decorum

440 poems, new daily


Aaron Tieger on CARVE

Originally CARVE was based in Boston and this was reflected by the poets who were published in CARVE. You’ve since moved to Ithaca. Could you talk about how your sense of a poetry community has changed and how that is reflected in some of the post-Boston CARVEs?

CARVE was initially conceived as a result of the sentence (uttered by Michael Carr) “There should be more print mags in Boston.” At the time (2003) there was still an incredibly fertile, if somewhat contentious, scene happening there and it seemed a shame that it wasn’t getting documented more.

Since moving to Ithaca, I’ve still kept the percentage of Boston poets pretty high, but though it’s where most of my poetic roots are it’s not where my community is located at all (and many of those poets are no longer in Boston, anyway). Both as a result of starting to run out of Boston poets and my own widening circle of acquaintances, CARVE is gradually getting more geographically diverse, which is obviously good in some ways but is less good in others— I miss having enough people proximous enough to a central location to have a reading party, let alone hang out with. On the other hand I have managed to avoid those inevitable social pains & hassles that come from a small, tightly-knit scene… I go back and forth on this.

The basic answer is that now that I’m living in a place where my immediate geography has not revealed to me a solid poetic community, I’m looking elsewhere for such nourishment, & the lineups of recent issues reflect this.

Could you speak about your editorial process? Specifically how you decide whether a poem is right for CARVE or not, and how you go about sequencing the poets and the poems by each individual poet?

It beats the shit out of me. Over the last couple issues I’ve started to become aware that I do have an editorial agenda, but I haven’t been any more successful at articulating exactly what it is. I tend to start with the poet rather than the poem — that is, I solicit a lot of the work I print and it’ll be by someone whose work I already know I like. So I’ll say “Do you have 5-7 poems that might work nicely in CARVE?” A lot of times the poems I get will be sequences or parts of sequences, so that takes care of that. Otherwise, I just try and get a sense of what it feels like to enter a poet’s selection and what it feels like to leave it, and what goes on in the middle.

In the case of actual, non-solicited submissions, it’s a little different, and in terms of the poems this is where I get a little vague. My tastes have evolved in the last year or two — I’m much more interested in a certain kind of abstraction or ambiguity than I used to be, and I still don’t quite know what to make of that. My interests vary but I wouldn’t say “I like anything if it’s done well.” I have little interest in poetry that feels too “crafted,” in which every word or image has been finely wrought into perfection and thus out of vitality. Likewise the “lyrical abstract” mode that seems to be so prevalent in the post-Ashbery/Stevens MFA world right now — lots of pretty (or weird) words that flow nice and flat . Yawn.

But one of the things I do look for is some kind of ideological connection. I’m interested in forging connections with other poets who have a vested interest in what I think of as “DIY poetics” and/or opposition to the mainstream. I’m not interested in working with poets for whom CARVE is merely another name on the CV. I realize I can’t really control that aspect of the process, but it’s something I think about.

You mention, “wrought into perfection” and “lyrical abstract” as two modes that don't work for CARVE. Could you speak to what kind of abstraction interests you? And what qualities distinguish the vitality of a poem/poetry?

It was your poetry, Jess, that really got me thinking about this, and got me to go and read some Whalen and some Coolidge & realize that I like work that invites some kind of participation from the reader in order to complete the experience of the poem. I think a certain amount of ragged edges also lets me know that the poet is aware that at the end of the day, these are just poems & not worth getting too worried about. I’m not disputing the need for some degree of craft — whatever that is — but I do think it’s important to realize one’s ultimate lack of control over one’s poems.

That said, I’m not really comfortable with work that seems to be “just” about language — I need some way in. I’m not entirely sure what I mean by that but I think it’s narrative — specifically, the transparency vs. opaqueness of narrative. That is, I think (perhaps naively) that there’s some kind of narrative that can be pulled out of just about anything, and for me it’s a matter of how strong — by which I guess I mean continuous — and how much work I need to do to get at it. I like to work, and be puzzled, but I don’t like to work too much, or to be told too much. (Back in Boston, James Cook once described CARVE as representing the “mainstream avant-garde,” and while I’m not sure it’s accurate –at least, these days— it does stick in my mind, for better or for worse).

How would you define the mainstream? i.e. Is it what is coming out of the institutions or what is being published? And if either, or neither, what is the relationship between CARVE and the mainstream?

I think of the mainstream as pretty equivalent to Bernstein’s “Official Verse Culture,” encompassing the usual suspects like Poetry and The New Yorker as well as most university presses. I also tend to think that if you’re a poet employed in an academic capacity, you’re automatically part of the mainstream machine. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does confer a certain degree of safety that seems mostly concerned with perpetuating itself.

At the risk of sounding disingenuous, CARVE’s approach to these institutions is largely to ignore them. The vast majority of work I see coming from those places completely bores me whenever I allow it into my orbit, which is thus not often.

CARVE seems to be very conscious about getting the numbers right between male and female poets, could you speak about the motivation for doing this?

Most of the poets I know are men, and the Boston scene I came out of was pretty male-dominated. I feel it’s my responsibility as an editor and an anarchist to challenge that wherever I can.

That said, it’s troubling that 90% of the submissions I get are from men. There was a lot of talk about this on the Buffalo list a year or two ago, though I don’t remember the upshot of it. There are plenty of great female poets out there. It gets difficult because I’ve printed most of my favorite women (mostly friends, or friends of friends), and you start to feel creepy after awhile, soliciting women specifically. But I try.

What would you say the percentage of non-solicited poems to solicited poems that end up in CARVE is?

Without getting into the specific numbers, which elude me, it’s safe to say that most of the poems I’ve printed have been from poets I’ve solicited. However, that’s not to say that an unsolicited submission stands a worse chance of getting in — it’s just that I know lots of poets whose work I like & want to print, & obviously I’m going to like more of their submissions than those I get from the anonymous, random masses — a fair number of whom don’t appear to have ever seen an issue, which is their first mistake.

In CARVE 6 you made an announcement about CARVE Editions, what will the relationship be between the Editions and the Magazine?

The chapbooks will continue the trend I started in #3, when I decided to start printing more poems by fewer poets in an attempt to deepen their representation. The chapbooks will provide even more opportunity for this. That said, I don’t know how I’m going to decide who ends up where. I’m sure as I get more used to thinking in terms of chapbooks and the magazine simultaneously, I’ll work out some system or intuition about it, but for now I’ll just have to wing it.

What other presses or magazines do you support or would you like to acknowledge as being of like mind as CARVE, or following the small press ethos?

Well, there are lots of small magazines & presses doing a lot of good work (The Canary, the tiny, etc), but relatively few I feel a real connection with. Pressed Wafer has obviously been a big influence on me, though they’re operating at a more advanced level than CARVE. Ugly Duckling has also been a huge influence, as has Chris Rizzo’s Anchorite Press (not just design-wise but also in Chris’ approach to developing a roster of poets, like a record label does). Scott Pierce’s Effing Press also does beautiful work, & though I don’t always dig the work I think we’re coming from a similar place, politically & aesthetically. I also like Stacy Szymaszek’s work with Gam, which chronicles a really interesting & stimulating scene in the Midwest (ditto Bob Harrison’s Bronze Skull Press).

A couple other influences which might not be so readily apparent are L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E and Angel Hair/United Artists. Not so much because of the work itself — though it does interest me — but because of the sense of community and shared purpose they evince.

How do you fund CARVE?

Largely from my own pocket, though that’s changing. When I’m working I tend to make just enough to cover an issue. Fortunately my recent (and ongoing) stint of unemployment has coincided with several nice swells of popularity for CARVE, and by combining a few small windfalls with a spate of new subscribers, I’ve managed to keep it up despite having no personal income to speak of. It also helped that I moved somewhere with a very reliable print shop that is half as expensive as the place I used in Boston.

About how many current subscribers do you have to CARVE?

About 20 at the moment.

How many CARVEs are printed in each edition?

200. It used to be 250, but I started running out of room in my office. Also, it’s cheaper.

What is on the horizon for CARVE in the foreseeable future?

Hopefully more chapbooks per year whilst continuing steady magazine output. I’d like to get some readings together, too – I miss them.

Robert Pinsky sends you five dynamite poems (ha!) for CARVE, do you print them?

No. Even assuming these poems really are dynamite (and that’s a big assumption), Pinsky has absolutely no relationship to anything I’m interested in. He doesn’t need the readers, and odds are most of my readers don’t need him.

One could say “Well, what about Bill Corbett or Clark Coolidge?” Those are two cases of poets who I feel varying degrees of kinship with and who have established commitments to small-press publishing. I’m really not interested in names.

more dial up blues

Haven't been able to log on from home for about a week now, because the page won't load. Deleted a bunch of previous posts with photos and such, much of the Vollis stuff, in an effort to get the page to load. If anyone has suggestions or tips on how to help the page load, please send them along...in the meantime I'll post from work. This changes what I can and can't do with blogger.



Hope they are not true about this guy . We find out today if there is any validity. Here is an interesting fact about my least favorite Red Sox:
"The guy [Kevin Millar] is slugging .285 away from Fenway Park this year. Slugging! ... .285! ... Dontrelle Willis's career slugging percentage is .296.





Rae Armantrout



The pronoun
has switched seats again
to show she's impartial,

her view
not framed by self-interest -

but to whom does she show this
and why?


"Only those who know the difference

between things
and wishes
deserve to live

says the driver.


What we need is a way
to make dalliance
and overview one thing:

sunlight on wavelets,

the blurred
Pointillistic paradise
lost on us

in the fellowship of
these cells.

from The Pretext



Recent return from NC. A little red wine and now I'm talking to you.
  • Thanks to Aaron for Archie sitting and for the five pack of poems, "in presence/of a well dressed cat".
  • Bounty in the mailbox: Richard Lopez The Grapevine & audio of a reading and Issue #1 of Wherever We Put Our Hats. Yeah!
  • Thanks to Le Tigre for getting me through a traffic jam outside of D.C. My take=Cassavetes is uneven.
  • Local newspaper interview in my inbox, at least I didn't have to see the photo. Oy.
  • Lots of reading time: Armantrout, CARVE 6 (review forthcoming), Zukofksy (again & again), Stevens (again & again), Alan Davies, Tolling Elves, & Michael Carr's as yet untitled manuscript.
  • Baths.
  • Vollis Simpson's place. Learned about this from Jonathan Williams' A Palpable Elysium. Wow, pictures forthcoming. Williams' directions leave something to be desired and his recommended bbq establishment Parker's was disappointing. Perhaps my bbq tastes are too Yankee, but the chopped pork, Brunswick stew, and string beans were mediocre.
  • Meat, meat, meat. A new wing was opened in my colon to accomodate the influx of meat. 2 lbs gained, back to fightin' weight ASAP.
  • Langston is the ideal travel dog.
  • Fewer & Further Press projects, stay tuned.


from Polaroid

a not said same one
some one of the either forth or both
saying evenly a while it's
till it were from if it you
I still if even so what then
it whiles it's ones
both it does as you it says
as still as you have it as was it
while it does do it does while one once
was it once you have it
even as to even you still one both have as was it
do you one says you

one of both it let be the stays
as often one of we either likes or does
it's you that's one it is I
am of this as not a much kind more
meaning once it's still it does

my very own number on my very own door

Or, I have a call # PS3613.Y576. As a librarian, this is watershed.


ok, one more

Seems you can see the strokes.

last one for now

Group of Trees

un autre

Soutine kick today.

more Soutine

A little blurry.


Miles Champion Facture
Lyn Hejinian Writing is an Aid to Memory
Tom Raworth Ace (with drawings by Barry Hall)



moon flower plastic (welcome to my wigwam)

Tobin Sprout.

Melts the toenails. Tobin as Lennon. Works for me.