Somewhere, in an email nearly a decade old now, and in reference to a conversation I can’t quite recall, Sesshu Foster wrote something to the effect of “there’s a difference…
Our mission is to create a “record of what passes in the night.” We seek to document and make permanent writing by women that exists outside of conventional genre categories. More often than not, these kinds of texts, because they are not legible in the way that most would expect, are othered, excluded from publishing, and withheld from an appreciative audience. With that in mind, Noctuary Press is a kind of intervention into a publishing landscape that orbits around very conventional ideas about genre.
We think poets as such should be lousier business people on the whole, kind of like those politicians who mine the family fortune on a pipe dream (but not rich, not politicians). The least exciting presses are typically the ones who’ve sorted the market part out without breaking a sweat, and in most cases it takes a special effort or an accident to remain vital once you can afford an employee. It’s not just that we think you should be willing to lose money with your poetry press (which, in general, we do): we think your press should be a refusal of professionalization, at least if the work you publish rejects same (& if it doesn’t, we probably have very little interest).
We embrace our smallness and the high quality that our present size allows us to maintain, as well as the financial viability it affords us. Bigness for its own sake is overrated. It feels more true to our mission to be big in terms of the reputation of our books and the notice and support our authors receive than to be big in terms of how many books we produce each year.