This is the thirty-seventh in Entropy’s small press interview series, where we ask editors about their origins, their mission, and what it’s like to run a press. Find the other interviews from this series in our Small Press Database here and under the Resources tab at the top of the page.
Interview with Heidi Broadhead, Managing Editor
How did Wave Books start?
Wave Books was started in Seattle in 2005 by publisher Charlie Wright, who merged with the then 5-year-old Verse Press. Verse author Joshua Beckman was hired as editor along with Verse founding editor Matthew Zapruder. So, when we started we had already sort of started.
Tell us a bit about Wave Books. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
Wave is a poetry press. We mostly publish individual collections of contemporary poetry, though we also publish prose by poets and books about poetry. We are deeply committed to poetry and writing that is close to poetry in its concern with language. Our primary enthusiasms are supporting authors and making beautiful books that are a pleasure to read, and this drives most of the decision-making at the press. Our hope is that the books we publish are meaningful to people and that they will be read for many years. Our influences are presses that made amazingly good books that were also beautiful objects (North Point, Jargon Society), and publishers that were or are a reflection of the poetry communities they publish (Black Sparrow, City Lights).
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?
We are up to 10 a year now, which seems crazy to us. This month, we have new poetry collections by Matthew Rohrer, Lisa Fishman, and Rod Smith, as well as a new translation of Mallarme’s A Roll of the Dice, by Robert Bononno and Jeff Clark (who also designs most of our books). We are also very excited about Superior Packets, which is three books by Susie Timmons—basically all her poems over the last 30+ years. In the fall we will publish Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners, which has been many years in the making, and new poetry collections by Rebecca Wolff, Caroline Knox, and Joseph Massey. That season, we also have the third of our Ernst Meister books, translated by Graham Foust and Samuel Frederick. And we have so many amazing books coming up after that: a beautiful prose collection by Renee Gladman called Calamities as well as two books that mix poetry and history and performance—Hardly War by Don Mee Choi and Olio by Tyehimba Jess. Many exciting publications coming from Wave, and we feel very lucky to be able to publish all these poets whose work we dearly love.
What about small/independent press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
It’s fantastic to have so many readers enthusiastic about poetry and about physical/print books. We have many people writing to us, wanting to visit, wanting to work in our office, inviting our authors to do events—there is just an outpouring of love and enthusiasm all the time, and not just from younger writers or from MFA programs but from poets around the world, actually. It’s great to be part of this community. And nice books coming from all over the place—small and micro presses doing such beautiful work and inspiring each other. It’s really cool.
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 Wave Books?
We are lucky to have a steady core of dedicated readers, amazing authors who give us books that people want to buy and read, softcover and hardcover subscribers who have been with us from the beginning—and all of this helps make it possible for us to continue making our books. We also have a publisher who believes in our mission and supports what we do.