Interview With Firewheel Editions

Firewheel Editions Logo

Author: Brian Clements

What makes Firewheel Editions a unique part of the publishing community?  How did you get your start?

Firewheel is unique partially because of its mission is to publish unique work. I initially founded Firewheel to publish an annual anthology of Texas writing (the Firewheel name came from the section of Garland, TX where I lived when I founded the press) and a chapbook series designed to publish work that was—for reasons of typography or design or content or whatever—difficult to place for publication. Our first chapbook was Kristin Ryling’s Trompe L’Oeil; Kristin’s work is like no other work in the world and certainly not typical of work that tends to interest most publishers. Since then, we have published the work of underappreciated poets (Charles Kesler, Daniel Luevano), work in unusual formats (Marjorie Tesser’s boxed game The important thing is…), collaborations (Neil de la Flor and Maureen Seaton’s Sinead O’Connor and Her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds and a forthcoming collaborative chapbook composed by half a dozen poets), and project-oriented work by established poets (such as Denise Duhamel’s Mille et un sentiments and her forthcoming Help in 47 Languages).

Part of the success of the press has been predicated on the success of Sentence: a journal of prose poetics, which has gone through nine issues (the tenth will be out in early 2013), and the success of An Introduction to the Prose Poem. Sentence and the anthology have attracted enough subscribers, sales, and classroom adoptions that they have enabled us to publish books that we would not have had the funds to publish otherwise. All of the money that comes into Firewheel goes into the publication of more books, Sentence, and our new journal of literary humor, Kugelmass. The editorial staff receives no compensation—we all work on a volunteer basis.

Up until last year we ran annual chapbook and book contests, but for 2013 we are going to switch to open submissions for the Sentence Book Award and the Firewheel Chapbook Award. I’ve never been fond of the contest culture, but it was the only way possible to launch Firewheel. Now that we’re on pretty stable footing, we can dispense with the contests. I’m very happy about that, and I hope other small presses who’ve had a modicum of success will consider making the same switch.

Firewheel really picks materials from a range of genres and styles.  It’s clearly a strength.  What ties your books together?   

I would say all of the work we publish is innovative in one way or another.

What special considerations do you make when considering a collaborative manuscript?  How does it change the way you think about marketing the book?

No special considerations. If it’s excellent innovative work, that’s all that matters.

What is the next exciting thing happening at Firewheel Editions?

Up until last year we ran annual chapbook and book contests, but for 2013 we are going to switch to open submissions for the Sentence Book Award and the Firewheel Chapbook Award. I’ve never been fond of the contest culture, but it was the only way possible to launch Firewheel. Now that we’re on pretty stable footing, we can dispense with the contests. I’m very happy about that, and I hope other small presses who’ve had a modicum of success will consider making the same switch.

Forthcoming books: an anthology of prose poetry from East Asia, that collaborative chapbook I mentioned, and the new Duhamel book. Lorene Delaney Ullman’s Camouflage for the Neighborhood, an excellent book of prose poems, will be out in a matter of weeks, and we’re very happy to have released two limited edition, signed and numbered chapbooks recently—William Todd Seabrook’s The Genius of J. Robert Oppenheimer and Re’Lynn Hansen’s 25 Sightings of the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker.