Reflecting on the first year…

It’s now been a few years since I had the idea for a local press in the Illinois Valley. My idea was publishing a literary journal of art, poetry, and prose for SW OR; helping local people get their books out; creating works celebrating the region; and also putting together literary events for the region. I think I nabbed the Facebook page for the press in May 2013. But it wasn’t until about a year ago that I got somewhat serious about this venture by putting out the first books.

Last November I debuted two books, both by yours truly. Yes, I suppose you could say these were “self-published” if I was the publisher for Left Fork and also the author. And sure it’s great to see my works in print (Thanks, Left Fork!). But the longer term goal was always to help get the works of others out. And perhaps that wouldn’t be possible unless they saw some samples of what the press could be or do.

My goal has been 4-6 books per year and now as we finish out the first year, on top of those first 2 by me, I see 5 more completed (see both the “available” and “forthcoming” links), plus one extra co-published with Radical Roots Press, and two more nearly done (more on those very soon–exciting news), for a total of 10 books!  Yowza. So it seems things are going well on the book front.

Not so strong is the whole distribution, marketing, social media stuff. Not sure when was the last time I facebooked or tweeted. Those can be a bit hard when living without electricity. And when I get to my local wi-fi enabled coffee stop, ye olde tweete is not at the top of my priority list. So sorry–news items on the website here will likely continue to be few and far between.

But in terms of my initial goals (see first paragraph above), I think things are going swimmingly. Regarding getting out a literary journal for the region, Michael Spring joined me as co-editor in creating Cobra Lily: a review of southwest oregon literature and art. We put out 4 on-line issues and 1 print issue, which had its debut at Josephine Community Libraries’ IV branch in August, and featured the work of more than 30 people with connections to SW Oregon.

Regarding the goal of literary events for the region, there’s the aforementioned Cobra Lily reading in August, but also a new tradition: the IV Local Author Holiday Book Reading & Sales event. After a successful event last December, the 2nd annual is coming up December 9 in Cave Junction, featuring 8+ local authors (looks like we may have some late additions). I’d like to see a few more events such as readings and workshops, perhaps expanding to local bookstores and coffee shops, but I feel these 3 events represent a great start.

Regarding the creation of works celebrating the region and its artists, Cobra Lily certainly fits the bill, but so too do other books like The Poem Said by poet David Newell and Ravenwood which features the work of award-winning poet Michael Spring and award-winning artist Deborah Dawson. This also fits my goal of helping local artists get their works out.

In terms of celebrating the region, though, I’m particularly excited to announce one of the next books from Left Fork: The Doodle, Design, & Draw Book for Illinois Valley Kids of All Ages. This is a book honoring all things that make the Illinois Valley unique, from Jubilee Park and the Oregon Caves to the Acorn Fest and Out ‘N’ About. The debut for this book is at next weekend’s Winter Holiday Bazaar at the Dome School, but I’ll also have it at that 2nd Annual author event.

So, yeah. All in all, I feel it’s been a great first year for Left Fork. Thanks, everybody!

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