So Lizzie Simon from the Wall Street Journal interviewed me about BAP (click to see), which was a strangely stress-free experience. I met her at El Beit cafe and she told me how beautiful our books were and we talked and she scribbled down notes and I made her laugh a few times and when that happens you know everything is going to work out. Prior to the interview, she asked me to come up with some fun numbers for a graphic that would accompany the interview. Well, I provided a lot of numbers and they used the more business-y ones, which makes sense. Below you’ll find the entire list I provided. All in all, a great experience. I love that they used the trees quote. I wish there had been enough space to include more of the interview. Here’s a longer quote in regards to being an editor: “I’m an old-school editor, versus the modern day poetry curator employed by literary journals. Once it hits my desk I am going to edit it. If something’s not working, I am going to tell them.” Lizzie was a total sweetheart and somehow boiled half an hour of conversation down to a few informative paragraphs, so I’m thrilled, and what a great thing for Brooklyn Arts Press!

WSJ Numbers from Brooklyn Arts Press

3: Poets whose books have been used to successfully woo
38: Average number of emails between a BAP editor and author
45: Percentage of books thanking or dedicated to, in part, a significant other
27: Percentage thanking or dedicated to a parent
100: Percentage of book cover art referencing trees or vegetation
6: Average monthly free coffees awarded publisher by El Beit baristas
26: Known BAP acronym nemeses in the publishing world
3: Pages it normally takes to know if a manuscript is any good
4: Known people who’ve lied to our authors about purchasing a book directly from our website
1: Percentage of manuscript submitters who unsubscribe from our mailing list after rejection
1: Neighborhood whiskey-store owners amazed poets still exist
10: Most hominids referenced by cover art of a book (Barry Bonds, Jesus, Mary, Os Gomeos character, scary model face, dancer hand, author, author’s brother eating a Whopper, Toulouse Lautrec drunk)
93,553: Total words in BAP’s entire catalogue
5.77: Average number of letters per word in BAP catalogue
26: Number of characters in longest title (Autobiomythography & Gallery)
5: Number of letters in shortest title (state)
250: Number of books normally printed in a first run
4: Digital printers, out of 434 contacted, whose production value rivaled that of an offset printer
7: Proofs rejected for printer errors (1 was printed backwards)
340: Pounds of BAP books currently in my office
136: Rejection letters sent out in February
0: Acceptance letters sent out in February
488: Steps from my office to the nearest bookstore carrying BAP titles (Spoonbill & Sugartown)




By LIZZIE SIMON  (From The Wall Street Journal)

When we asked Joe Pan, publisher and editor of the Williamsburg-based Brooklyn Arts Press, to assemble numbers related to his art monograph and poetry chapbook operation, he discovered that all of his books had images of nature on them.

“I had no idea I was so earthly,” he said. “Trees on everything.”

Brooklyn Arts Press, which allocates between $600-$2,000 to produce each volume, will have a table this weekend at the fourth annual City University of New York Chapbook Festival at the CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave., in Manhattan. While the recession halted production in 2008 and 2009, in 2010, “we broke the barrier where each book pays for the next.”


The audience for poetry is “mostly poets,” he said. “MFA programs abound.”

To market to them, he frequently pushes his authors to promote themselves on social networking sites. “They spend so much time in the writerly dark, but you’d be surprised: some of them have business acumen.”

Mr. Pan is always on the look out for “range and sensitivity, accuracy, style and depth.” Most of the poetry he reads he rejects by page three, but work that passes muster provides his job’s greatest gratification.

“You’re chasing the tail and chasing the tail and then suddenly the thing turns around and looks at you,” he said.

An “old-school editor”, Mr. Pan, also a poet, regularly puts himself on the inside of his poets’ stanzas: “Once it hits my desk I am going to edit it. If something’s not working, I am going to tell them.”

—Lizzie Simon

A version of this article appeared March 26, 2012, on page A24 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Pressing for Good Poetry.


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