Interview with Dana Curtis, Founding Editor
How did Elixir Press start?
Elixir started when I was living in Minneapolis. Because of my health (I have MS), I was no longer teaching. I wanted to do something that would connect me to the literary world, something other than my own work. My original thought was to start a literary magazine which I did for several years. In the end, I realized I preferred running a small press. Publishing an entire book of someone’s work seemed more satisfying and more important.
Tell us a bit about Elixir Press. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
Elixir’s mission is to publish the very best poetry and fiction. Most of the large publishers won’t even consider work that isn’t submitted by an agent. They seem to be interested in making money above everything else. A lot of great literature, and almost all poetry, makes no money at all. The small presses are absolutely essential in getting work into print that the big publishers won’t touch. It’s where you find the most originality and risk-taking, both essential to great writing.
Can you give us a preview of what’s current and/or forthcoming from your catalog, as well as what you’re hoping to publish in the future?
A novel, Tell Me, Signora by Ann Harleman, was just put into print although its release date is not until next year. We are currently working on Somewhere To Go by Laurin Becker Macios, a collection of poetry. Gary Fincke just chose The Worst May Be Over by George Looney as the winner of the Elixir Press Fiction Award.
We used to ask, “What about small/independent press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?” We’re still interested in the answer to that, but we’re even more interested to know what you think needs to change.
I’m not certain what needs to change. In the poetry world, our usual readers are other poets. I would very much like to see a larger audience for poetry. Unfortunately, I’m not certain how to do that. I suppose better education for everyone would help. Of course, that would help everything, so it’s not so much a matter of saving poetry and literature as it is a matter of saving the world.
How do you cope? There’s been a lot of conversation lately about charging reading fees, printing costs, rising book costs, who should pay for what, etc. Do you have any opinions on this, and would you be willing to share any insights about the numbers at Elixir Press?
Elixir does charge a reading fee for entering the contests, and it is the only thing that keeps us alive. I wish that were not so but can’t think of a way to fix it. If anyone has any ideas, I’d love to hear them. I cope by trying to concentrate entirely upon the work, by being willing to phase things back when necessary. So long as great work continues to be published, I am content.