Saturday, February 23, 2019

Graywolf Press, Black Writers, and Book History


Alright, so if we started writing a contemporary history of black book based on small to mid-size publishers, we'd certainly want to acknowledge Graywolf Press. Over the last several years in particular, they have been one of the major forces in the production of books, especially poetry, by African American writers. Elizabeth Alexander, Tracy K. Smith, Kevin Young, Danez Smith, and many more have all published with Graywolf.

Many of the largest presses in the country publish a relatively small number of poets each year. They are more likely to invest in novels and nonfiction. We have a few African American presses, but they perhaps not enough to sustain the many African American poets out there.

Graywolf, therefore, has stepped in and filled a void. Their catalog includes much more than African American books, and they are hardly the only press to publish works by black writers. Still, their reach and influence has been hard to deny.

The willingness of Graywolf editors to publish hybrid and experimental works has also been important. Most notably, they published Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric (2014). Is it a book of poems? Poetic essays? Both? Something else? Whatever it might be, Citizen generated more attention than any other book that has been categorized as poetry. Graywolf notes that more than 250,000 copies of the book are print.

The success and widespread visibility of Citizen has no doubt brought Graywolf Press to the attention of an even larger number of African American poets. Rankine's book and the rise of Danez Smith, among others, has made the press a desired location for even poets who are publishing with different presses.

There's much more to say about the significance of Graywolf to Black Book History during the 21st century. For now, here's an impartial list of works by black writers that they've published.

Graywolf
2000: Domestic Work by Natasha Trethewey
2000: Pastoral by Carl Phillips
2001: Antebellum Dream Book by Elizabeth Alexander
2002: Bellocq's Ophelia by Natasha Trethewey
2002: From the Devotion by Carl Phillips
2002: Cortege by Carl Phillips
2003: The Body's Question Tracy K. Smith
2004: Coin of the Realm: Essays on the Art and Life of Poetry by Carl Phillips
2004: Don't Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
2004: The Venus Hottentot (reprint) by Elizabeth Alexander
2005: American Sublime by Elizabeth Alexander
2005: The Maverick Room by Thoma Sayers Ellis
2006: Recyclopedia: Trimmings, S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse and Drudge by Harryette Mullen
2006: Lions Don't Eat Us by Constance Quarterman Bridges
2009: Praise Song for the Day by Elizabeth Alexander
2010: Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems (hardcover) by Elizabeth Alexander
2010: Skin Inc.: Identity Repair Poems (hardcover) by Thomas Sayers Ellis
2010: Missing You, Metropolis by Gary Jackson
2011: Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith
2012: The Grey Album by Kevin Young
2012: Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems (paperback) by Elizabeth Alexander
2013: Skin Inc.: Identity Repair Poems (paperback) by Thomas Sayers Ellis
2013: Urban Tumbleweed: Notes from a Tanka Diary by Harryette Mullen
2013: Scratching the Ghost by Dexter L. Booth
2014: Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
2014: The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination by Carl Phillips
2015: Turning into Dwelling by Christopher Gilbert
2016: Bestiary by Donika Kelly
2017: Don't Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
2017: Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists...Fake News (hardcover) by Kevin Young
2018: Wade in the Water (hardcover) by Tracy K. Smith
2018: A Lucky Man (short stories, hardcover) by Jamel Brinkley
2018: Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists...Fake News (paperback) by Kevin Young
2018: This Mournable Body: A Novel by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Forthcoming in 2019:
2019: The White Card: A Play by Claudia Rankine
2019: Wade in the Water (paperback) by Tracy K. Smith
2019: A Lucky Man (short stories, paperback) by Jamel Brinkley
2019: Heed the Hollow: Poems by Malcolm Tariq

Related:
Black Book History, February 2019
Graywolf Press and African American Poetry
The Graywolf Press black poetry mix & Christopher Gilbert
Graywolf brings Christopher Gilbert to a new generation of readers
Select Graywolf Press Books by Black Writers, 2000 - 2013
Black Poetry published by Graywolf Press

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