Battling Demons


It’s funny. A couple days ago, Facebook reminded me (in my personal account) that, four years ago, I’d posted a photo taken during assembly of our then-latest chapbook. Which was actually Clown Machine by Jennifer MacBain-Stephens.

We hadn’t planned on Jennifer’s next Grey Book Press chapbook coming out now, almost four years exactly after Clown Machine. Of course, the Coronavirus (and the vagaries of web-hosting issues) had other plans. But, now, we are back with a bang . . . Jennifer’s latest chapbook, The Female Citizens from Sunshine Nation Face off with Light Sucking Demons.

This was the first manuscript I chose during our open reading last Fall, immediately drawn to the bizarre-o mythology in its pages. I asked Jennifer to describe it for us. “The female identified fighters and ‘Hybrids’ must behead ink-filled demons who just want to steal the warriors’ warmth, or essence: what makes them tick. The demons have hidden third eyes and a thing for office supplies. In this alternate universe where the POD thinks it’s in control and maybe keeping citizens safe, characters still kiss in stairwells and wear Beatles tee shirts. Female Citizen #1 writes letters to Rory, who is slowly changing for the worse. There might be a few more moons visible but nothing beats a sharp sword. Will the Female Citizens preserve their livelihood, their creative power amongst the chaotic violence and future Priuses? Will they mingle with Shamans who evolve, and ‘zing,’ and listen to jazz records and live to tell about it?” Jennifer has created a world and brought a war to her poetry, because, guess what . . . we know this war.

From “Moth Mouths or Why She Hoped to Zing”:

“Z. moth mouthed an electrical message,
a riding lawnmower teaser

sliced into ribbons in the grass.
Suddenly purple kohlrabi grew.

She loved his soft and hard mouth
his chisel and drum

music notes intertwined about his brain fizz.”

What a way for us to make our return. Thanks, Jennifer!

Copies available on the Titles page.

June 2020 Update

As you can see, our website is back up and running.  There will be tweaks as we go (we’ve found several things that need to be updated), so let us know if you see anything that looks strange. One thing: As we switched web platforms, we chose not to restore a lot of the historical posts (mostly pre-2020).  Also during that process, links in social media posts were broken and won’t be fixed.  Whomp whomp.

On the plus side, the Titles page had more of a seamless transition.  We’ve also been working on our next two chapbooks in the meantime, so they’re nearly ready to launch.  First (within the next couple weeks) will be The Female Citizens of Sunshine Nation Face off with Light Sucking Demons by Jenny MacBain-Stephens, followed in early July by Continued by Chris Bullard.

Thanks to everyone for your patience during our COVID-related downtime, and our hearts are with the protesters and others taking a stand against racial inequality.  Thanks also to Jim for help transitioning the website and to Patricia for hosting and ongoing support.

April 2020 Update

A month ago, I hadn’t anticipated the Coronavirus would have such an impact on our operations. First off, with everything but essential businesses closing, I lost easy/safe access to my color printer. I was already a little behind on getting our next chapbook ready to print, so I was looking at outsourcing the covers (which we’ll probably do anyway). And then I found out that our website needs to shift to a new platform, which will mean a little transition when the website will be down. So, the current plan is to continue with productions and get things ready and launch the chapbooks (staggered them a month or so) as soon as website is back up. (The website will go down around the end of April) First up will be The Female Citizens of Sunshine Nation Face off with Light Sucking Demons by Jenny MacBain-Stephens, and then Continued by Chris Bullard.

Thanks everyone, especially our poets, for your patience.

Stay healthy, and see you on the other side!

March 2020 Update

It’s nothing to do (directly) with the Coronavirus pandemic or the earlier-than-usual Vernal Equinox, but we’re a little behind where we planned to be to get out our next chapbook (The Female Citizens of Sunshine Nation Face off with Light Sucking Demons by Jenny MacBain-Stephens) in the next week or so. The plan is to get that “to press” and have it ready to ship out in early April. Following that is Chris Bullard’s chapbook, Continued, which was scheduled for the beginning of May. It’s too early to say if that will be delayed; for the time being, we’re going to plan to get that out as on-schedule as possible.

After those two chapbooks, we’ll evaluate how to fill the void before the next open reading period in October/November.

In the meantime, take care of yourselves and take care of one another. And wash your hands!

YOU DESERVE ALL OF THIS – Channel U

The title of this post comes from one of Jessie Janeshek’s poems from her latest chapbook, Channel U. The cover features Maila Nurmi (better known as Vampira) dressed as a witch for Halloween, with her companion dressed as a post-car-crash James Dean.

Our final chapbook of last year’s “season” is our third by Ms. Janeshek. At this point, what more can we tell you? Jessie describes her poetry as “feminist, probing the connections among sex, power, and violence—frequently explored through the broken promise of Hollywood’s ‘golden age’ and its shadow side film noir—while examining, challenging, and sometimes reappropriating patriarchal culture’s complex relationship with powerful women, especially when those women are too beautiful yet never beautiful enough.” I asked her to describe Channel U, and she wrote that it “fuses personal and cultural nostalgia—or maybe anti-nostalgia—to examine and disrupt girlhood and womanhood in small-town America from the ’50s through the ’90s. ‘Screaming relaxes me so,’ Vampira used to say, sipping from a smoking goblet as she introduced that night’s cheap horror flick.” Take a drink and tune in.

From “Bombshell Planchette/Why Can’t You Manage Platinum?”

“Makeup makes the lie and I’m afraid of your bleach
my legs/the trees open. To motivate myself
I dream Kim Novak
white lights in the clouds
the self-control suicide note.”

Check the title page and pick up a copy. It goes great with her other two chapbooks!

January 2020 Update (OPEN READING RESULTS EDITION)

We’re finally back with the results of the open reading we had the first half of November. It turns out we only chose two manuscripts for publication . . . from basically that number of finalists. I know, what gives? (More details* below.) So because the six-week spacing between chapbooks has been working pretty well, Grey Book Press is now following the Wheel of the Year. GBP alum Jenny MacBain-Stephens’ chapbook, The Female Citizens of Sunshine Nation Face off with Light Sucking Demons, will appear around the Spring Equinox (March 22/23), and Chris Bullard’s chapbook, Continued, will appear around the beginning of May.

But before any of that, we’re having a reading here in Tallahassee next weekend (January 18) with some friends from Hysterical Books, and it includes Kristine Snodgrass and Brendan Walsh.

Our next publication is the long-awaited Channel U from Jessie Janeshek. In just a few short weeks! I’d better get to work!

* Most years, we get a whole mix of manuscripts in the open readings. There’s a score of 7 (on a scale of 1 to 10) or higher to be considered as a finalist, which means we feel that particular collection is strong and fits well with our “aesthetic.” And/or “feels right.” In reading the manuscripts, it seemed like several were falling just short, so there was a handful that were “on the bubble” for finalist consideration. I was pretty sure about the two we chose, but I did second reads of a few others to make sure and contacted some of those authors to let them know they were so close but not quite “there.” We have to feel comfortable with our picks, and only two of them felt completely “right.” That doesn’t mean the ones not selected were lacking. We’ve passed on manuscripts before, only to have them picked up by better presses than ours, or Finishing Line!