The Conversant is happy to announce its merger with Essay Press. Andy Fitch will be Essay’s new editor. Cristiana Baik will be its managing editor. Christopher Schmidt will serve as editor at large. We look forward to working with Essay’s founding editors Catherine Taylor, Stephen Cope and Eula Biss. Here we offer Fitch’s 2011 interview with Taylor concerning Essay Press. This interview first appeared in Cream City Review 36.1.
Andy Fitch: You’ve founded respected publications before, the Harwood Review and New Ohio Review. Could we start by discussing if, initially, you’d thought of Essay Press as an extension of those projects, if you envisioned the press making a pointed intervention into contemporary publishing (specifically into creative nonfiction or poetry, or as critique of any clear demarcation between those fields)?
Catherine Taylor: It’s true I’ve done many publishing projects. I think they’re all just symptoms of the way I live and work. But in terms of intervention: It might be too programmatic, or ascribe too much intention to say I meant to make an intervention. I just responded to a perceived lack. I was teaching creative nonfiction but struggling to find the kind of work I wanted to teach. I’d wanted to teach more innovative pieces, pieces that challenged students in terms of form or politics or were just a bit less mainstream than the essays that tend to get featured in anthologies. That was my first motivation. I was looking for pieces. And realizing they were in literary journals, some already defunct, and that there really wasn’t a place in the publishing world where my students and I could access this work. I thought, Well, I could start a press that gave essayists and creative nonfiction writers a home in the way poets had. And that became the model, that you can return to your favorite poetry book year after year, but it’s hard to return to a great essay you saw in an obscure journal six years ago if you’re not schlepping around your old journal copies. Sometimes I do that and sometimes I don’t. Continue reading