In memoriam Dan Jacobson


photo, Murdo MacLeod


It was with great sadness that we learned of Dan Jacobson's death, at the age of 85, on 12 June 2014. Dan, a distinguished novelist, memoirist and travel writer, was a good friend to Waywiser, and more especially to its imprint, Between The Lines, for whom he and his old friend Ian Hamilton produced one of that series's highlights, Ian Hamilton in Conversation with Dan Jacobson.

To read John Sutherland's Guardian appreciation, please click on the link below:



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Waywiser launches first e-books



On 20 May 2014, Waywiser released Kindle e-reader editions of Mary Elizabeth Pope's short story collection, Divining Venus, and Shelley Puhak's Hecht Prize-winning poetry collection, Guinevere in Baltimore. For more information, and ordering information, please click on the covers below:


Mary Elizabeth Pope, Divining Venus Shelley Puhak, Guinevere in Baltimore



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Waywiser's Associate Editor Dora Malech joins faculty at Johns Hopkins University



Dora Malech



Our congratulations go to Dora Malech, who has been appointed Assistant Professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

To read her profile on the university's website, please click on the link below.



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Morri Creech's The Sleep of Reason a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry



Morri Creech


It was announced on 14 April 2014 that Morri Creech's third collection of poems, The Sleep of Reason, was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Mr Creech is no stranger to literary prizes – his first collection, Paper Cathedrals (The Kent State University Press, 2001) won the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize in 2000, and his second collection, Field Knowledge (Waywiser, 2006), won the very first Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize in 2005, but to have been one of only three finalists for this most prestigious of prizes is a signal honour, and the press extends to Mr Creech its warmest congratulations. Columbia University's press release describes The Sleep of Reason as "a book of masterly poems that capture the inner experience of a man in mid-life who is troubled by mortality and the passage of time, traditional themes that are made to feel new".

For more information about The Sleep of Reason, please click on the photo above.

To read the Pulitzer Organization's own announcement of the 2014 results, please click on the link below.



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Editorial Appointment


V. Penelope Pelizzon


We are delighted to announce that V. Penelope Pelizzon has accepted appointment to Waywiser's editorial board. For further information about her, please click on the photograph above.



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Joseph Harrison featured on Poem-a-Day


Joseph Harrison



The title poem of Joseph Harrison latest collection, Shakespeare's Horse, is featured on the Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day. Waywiser will be publishing Shakespeare's Horse in early 2015. For details, please watch this space. To read the poem, please click on the link below:


"Shakespeare's Horse"



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New Publications




V. Penelope Pelizzon, Whose Flesh is Flame, Whose Bone is Time


V. Penelope Pelizzon, Whose Flesh is Flame, Whose Bone is Time

On April 3rd 2014, we publish V. Penelope Pelizzon's Whose Flesh is Flame, Whose Bone is Time, which was a finalist for the eighth Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. From the coal country of Western Pennsylvania, to Camorra-ridden Naples, to the streets of Damascus before the outbreak of civil war, these lyric poems chart the complexities of national and intimate identity. By turns playful, lamenting, sceptical, bawdy, and aggrieved, they find the human fingerprint below history's erasures, ultimately praising the endurance of the soul "so ample that, if that is all there is, / she makes a feast of thorns."

Pelizzon is the author of one previous collection of poems, Nostos (Ohio University Press, 2000), which won the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award. She is also co-author of Tabloid, Inc: Crimes, Newspapers, Narratives (Ohio State University Press, 2010). Further information about the new book please click on the cover above.



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Stephen Kampa, Bachelor Pad

Stephen Kampa, Bachelor Pad

On April 3rd 2014, we publish Bachelor Pad, Stephen Kampa's second collection of poems. Where Kampa's first collection wrestled with silence and how to fill it, his second addresses solitude. By turns moving and funny, the poems in this book explore various permutations of intimacy and isolation in contemporary culture, juxtaposing them with other models of intimacy and fruitful solitude. The collection is divided into three sections. "Around Town" focuses on relationships in the public sphere: bars, parties, restaurants, and the give-and-(more often)-take that happen in them. "Sleepless with Reruns" is a mixed suite of poems that deals with both the movies on late-night television and those private movies that loop through the speaker's head when he lies awake in bed. "At Home" collects poems about home not only as a place, but also as an idea, placing particular emphasis not on the homes we come from but the ones we make. Throughout, poetic craft provides a vehicle for a transcendence that is part faith, part laughter.

Kampa's honours include the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, theTheodore Roethke Prize, two Pushcart Nominations, and the Florida Book Awards Gold Medal in Poetry. He was also the 2012 Florida harmonica champion.

Further information about Bachelor Pad please click on the cover above .



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Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize Announcement





The winner of the ninth annual Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, announced by judge Heather McHugh on March 9th 2014, is Geoffrey Brock's Voices Bright Flags. Mr Brock, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, receives a purse of $3,000, and Voices Bright Flags, complete with a foreword by Ms McHugh, will be published by Waywiser on November 17th 2014, when Mr Brock and Ms McHugh will give a public reading at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C.

For further details about the winner, the finalists and the semi-finalists, as well as an opportunity to read poems from their manuscripts, please click on the logo above.







Recent Events





AWP Conference

Washington State Convention Center

South Hall, Booth 603 (directly opposite The New York Times's booth)

February 26 - March 1, 2014


Waywiser once again had a presence at the AWP conference, sharing a booth with our US distributor, Dufour Editions Inc. We also had an off-site reading at the Seattle Art Museum, where Joseph Harrison, Dora Malech, Eric McHenry, Penelope Pelizzon, Shelley Puhak, Cody Walker read to an appreciative audience of thirty.


Joseph Harrison Dora Malech Eric McHenry V. Penelope Pelizzon Shelley Puhak Cody Walker







Recent Launches






Launch of Shelley Puhak's Guinevere in Baltimore

winner of the eighth Anthony Hecht Poetry Pri

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Elizabethan Theatre, Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol Street SE, Washington DC 20005


Shelley Puhak
Charles Simic


Shelley Puhak, Guinevere in Baltimore


Shelley Puhak read from her prize-winning collection, Guinevere in Baltimore, after being introduced to a capacity audience by Charles Simic, the judge who selected it as winner of the eighth annual Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. In the second half of the evening, Mr Simic read from his most recent work. The event was introduced by Waywiser's Senior American Editor, Joseph Harrison. A drinks reception followed, during which the two poets signed copies of their books.


Shelley Puhak and Charles Simic before their reading


Shelley Puhak reading from Guinevere in Baltimore
Charles Simic reading from his New & Selected Poems



Shelley Puhak signing copies of Guinevere in Baltimore
Charles Simic signing copies of his most recent books



Helen Hecht, Joseph Harrison, Shelley Puhak, Charles Simic, Philip Hoy

Folger Shakespeare Library, November 18, 2013



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Launch of Mary Elizabeth Pope's short story collection, Divining Venus

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Newtonville Books, Newton, Massachusetts

Mary Elizabeth Pope, Divining Venus


To celebrate publication of Divining Venus, Ms Pope read to a large and appreciative audience at Newtonville Books in Newton, Massachussetts, afterwards signing numerous copies.




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Waywiser now on Facebook


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Recent Publications



Shelley Puhak, Guinevere in Baltimore

Shelley Puhak, Guinevere in Baltimore

Shelley Puhak's Guinevere in Baltimore, which won the eighth annual Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, is made up of a sequence of dramatic monologues, monologues in which the infamous lovers Guinevere and Lancelot are transported to the twenty-first century. Navigating their doomed affair in our age of austerity, the pair examine their love in all of its chemical, biological, political, and technological dimensions, ultimately asking readers to examine our own infidelities to our ideals. In his foreword to the book, judge Charles Simic writes: "What makes Guinevere in Baltimore work ... is the sheer brilliance of the individual poems. The finest poetry, the kind one wants to keep re-reading, mostly comes down to memorable turns of phrase and vivid detail, and that is what one finds here. Of course, for a language to come alive for the reader, one has to hear the voice of whoever is speaking in the poem, which requires verbal imagination and an exquisite ear for how different types of people talk. Guinevere in Baltimore is masterfully crafted, a veritable feast for any lover of words. Being a story about marital infidelity, its poems are full of things both intimate and scandalous. And juicy gossip, as the old Greek and Roman poets knew well, and made sure to record, will outlast empires and even gods."

For further information, please click on the cover above.


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Mark Strand, Almost Invisible

Mark Strand, Almost Invisible

In October 2013, we shall be publishing Mark Strand's latest collection, Almost Invisible. Reviewing it for Booklist, Donna Seaman has written: "Strand, a major poet of elegantly meditative inquiries, presents a collection of ethereal prose poems that read like koans and parables. People dissemble. Time is unruly. Inexplicable moments occur beside the 'wrinkling, sorrowing sea.' Landscapes are bleak, wind-scoured, disorienting. 'The gates to nowhere multiply and the present is so far away, so deeply far away.' Nothing is as it seems. Language is all we have to go on, and language is both path and shadow, rope and smoke. Strand’s titles suggest his by turns melancholy and ironic metaphysics: 'Clarities of the Nonexistent,' 'The Enigma of the Infinitesimal,' 'Provisional Eternity.' The rueful poet of lonesomeness, nothingness, travels without arrivals, Strand is also sharply funny, foxily ribald, and teasingly surreal. There is beauty here, albeit fleeting and steeped in yearning, 'like fireflies in the perfumed heat of a summer night.' And within these compact paragraphs, these brief, mysterious dream stories, the breathtaking cadence and resonant harmonics of words so precisely chosen and placed form exquisite, enrapturing, provoking, and shivery poems to be read and reread, lingered and marveled over.

Strand is the author of thirteen earlier books of poems, including the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Blizzard of One (published by Waywiser in 2005). He is also the author of a book of stories, three volumes of translations, and monographs on the artists William Bailey and Edward Hopper. He has edited a number of anthologies (most recently 100 Great Poems of the Twentieth Century), He has received many honors and awards for his poems, including a MacArthur Fellowship, the Pulitzer Prize, the Bollingen Prize, and the Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1990 he was chosen Poet Laureate of the United States.

For further information, please click on the cover above.




Mary Elizabeth Pope, Divining Venus

Mary Elizabeth Pope, Divining Venus

In October 2013 we shall be publishing Mary Elizabeth Pope's debut short story collection, Divining Venus. In the vein of Elinor Lipman's Into Love and Out Again, Pam Houston's Cowboys Are My Weakness and Thisbe Nissen's Out of the Girls' Room and into the Night, but in voices that are entirely her own, the stories that make up this fine book are thematically linked by characters who, from blind dates to back seats to a drinking game gone wrong, discern something true about love. In "Reunion" a divorced empty-nester faces up to the one who got away. In "Junior Lifesaving" a young woman conceals her competence to maintain a relationship with a man who is threatened by her strength, only to be faced with a terrible choice. In "Say Goodbye to Hollywood" a newly-minted college graduate must choose between adolescence and adulthood when she finds herself falling for her boyfriend's father. And in the title story, "Divining Venus," an eleven-year-old turns to a ouija board with questions about love when her classmates, teachers and parents don't have the answers.

Mary Elizabeth Pope has a Ph.D in English and Creative Writing from the University of Iowa and is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts.



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Gabriel Roth, The Unknowns


Gabriel Roth, The Unknowns

It’s not easy to pursue the most alluring woman in North America when you’re a misfiring circuit of over-analytical self-doubt and she has a way with a killer line and a perfectly raised eyebrow. Even, that is, when you’ve survived your teen years as an outcast in the school computer room to become a dot com millionaire. But as Eric Muller refines his email technique, his date patter, and his ability to shut up after sex, he finds there’s more to Maya Marcom than meets the eye.Will our hero be driven to uncover the whole truth about his lover – or will they continue in bliss and wonder? Welcome to the hilarious, neurotic, and peculiarly perceptive world of Gabriel Roth's The Unknowns. Waywiser and Picador co-published this fine debut novel on June 6th 2013.


For more information about The Unknowns, please click on the jacket image above


To read Gabriel Roth in interview with Metro, please click on the link below:

"I used to be a reporter but I'm better at making stuff up."



How Waywiser Acquired The Unknowns

Philip Hoy, Editor in Chief at the Waywiser Press, tells the story of how he came to acquire The Unknowns

In the spring of 2011, I had a phone call from Nick Garland, the (London) Daily Telegraph’s political cartoonist. Waywiser had published one book of his already, and later that year would be publishing a second. But he wasn’t calling about either of these; he was calling to find out whether we might like to consider a novel he had read and admired in typescript, the author of which had drawn a blank with the New York publishers it had been sent to.

I wasn’t able to start reading the typescript Nick sent me until a few weeks later, but I knew straightaway that I had something remarkable in my hands, and when I was only halfway through The Unknowns I tried ringing Nick to find out whether the novel was still available. Unfortunately, he was away and unreachable, so I emailed Gabriel Roth direct, telling him I still had a way to go but was thoroughly absorbed by his novel, and asking about its status.

Not having received a reply, I wrote again the next day, this time not holding back: “I finished reading The Unknowns last night, and came away thinking it a marvellously accomplished piece of work – richly observed, funny, touching, unostentatiously stylish and cleverly structured.” I went on there and then to offer him a contract.

It turned out that Gabe had known nothing about Nick’s efforts in his behalf. My emails had taken him completely by surprise. When he’d finished writing The Unknowns a couple of years earlier, he’d sent it out to a number of New York publishers and had been gravely disappointed when, one after another, they’d turned it down. He’d put the typescript away, resigned to the idea that he wasn’t a writer after all.

After the contract was signed, things moved swiftly. Sebastian Faulks and Andrew O’Hagan both agreed to blurb the book, and they did so handsomely. Not content with blurbing it, Sebastian asked us to send his agent a copy, and in next to no time Gabe had not just a publisher but one of the country’s most respected agents, Andrew Kidd, working for him. It was thanks to Andrew and his colleagues’ efforts that we sold the US rights to Little Brown in a competitive auction, that we’ve since done a number of foreign rights deals, and that, here in the UK, we have been able to enter this splendid co-publishing arrangement with Picador.

A book such as The Unknowns is what a small literary press like Waywiser dreams of, and it’s a source of pride that we have been able to give it such a great start in life, acting as its springboard, as it were. But the real hero of the story – if I exclude Gabe, of course! – is Nick Garland. Had he not recognized the novel’s quality, or taken the trouble to sound me out about it, The Unknowns would in all likelihood have remained just that – one of the unknowns.



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"A Fine Excess"


"A Fine Excess" Videos Now Available to Watch on iTunes


To watch some of the poets on Waywiser's list read from their work, and to see three of the more senior ones being interviewed, please click on the link below. The videos were made during "A Fine Excess", a three-day celebration of poetry held in the spring of 2008 at Emory University in Atlanmta, George, USA, featuring writers published by or associated with the press, amongst them W. D. Snodgrass, Mark Strand, Richard Wilbur, Deborah Warren, Clive Watkins, Jeffrey Harrison, Eric McHenry, J. D. McClatchy, Mary Jo Salter, Joseph Harrison, Greg Williamson, Morri Creech and Erica Dawson.

"A Fine Excess" was sponsored by the Emory Libraries; The Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library; the Emory Creativity and the Arts Initiative; the Creative Writing Program; the Humanities Council; the Hightower Fund; and the National Endowment for the Arts. To all of these bodies Waywiser would like to extend its thanks.


On the last night of "A Fine Excess", a party was held at the home of Ron Schuchard (the Godrich C. White Professor of English at Emory) and his wife, at which a number of the poets recited poems that meant something special to them. The event is commemorated in poem written by one of the poets who had participated in the events, Jeffrey Harrison. We should like to thank him for giving us permission to reprint that poem here. It first appeared in the July 2010 issue of the Yale Review:



Years from now I may have forgotten all
the details, so I'm trying to get this down
on paper now in order to have it then
when I'm old and looking back on that evening
of the poetry festival's last day when
Wilbur and Snodgrass and Strand were all
in one room for what might be the last time,
with a slew of us likely to be forgotten
sitting around that living room or standing
along its bookshelved walls and in the doorways,
listening to toasts and then to our spirited host
intoning Yeats's "Sailing to Byzantium."
Then we heard Wyatt, Herrick, Bishop, Larkin,
and I'm already forgetting who else,
nursery rhymes in English and Hungarian,
all by heart from those in our gathering,
poem after poem called back and delivered
and listened to with the insuppressible pleasure
of poets celebrating the art of those who came
centuries or decades before them.
I can't remember, already, who asked for Wilbur's
"Love Calls Us to the Things of This World."
He said he couldn't do it from memory,
and someone handed him the book. As he read it
from his armchair, I could see Strand, standing
behind him, on the far side of the room,
mouthing the words as if they were a creed –
then he backed away, though I could see him still
from my corner as he bent his head forward
and covered his face with his hands. For a moment
I thought he was overcome with emotion,
and maybe, for a moment, he was – at the poem
itself, and from remembering the time
(from the vantage of now being seventy-three)
he'd memorized those lines by his elder.
And not just those lines, because, moments later,
he stepped forward to recite another poem
by Wilbur, following it with a parody
he'd written in college, then placed his hand
on Wilbur's shoulder to show him it was meant
in further homage. And I felt how rare it was,
this paying tribute, this camaraderie,
this sense of being however small a part
of something much larger than that room.

© Jeffrey Harrison



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