Monthly Archives: May 2012

MIP Release: The Clovers and the Sun by Benjamin Granger

The Clovers and the Sun by Benjamin Granger is the most recent release in an exciting swarm of Middle Island Press activities. It is a pleasure to present Granger’s poetic prose, his thoughts and insights which number well over a hundred in this collection. There is much food for thought. Granger’s thoughts are primarily simple, but his thought process is an unusual labyrinth that requires the reader to slow down and contemplate in order to fully appreciate the beauty of such ramified simplicity that sometimes arrives far afield, and sometimes arrives right back at the beginning.

The Clovers and the Sun can be purchased at the Middle Island Press website.

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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in News & Reviews


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Five Tips on How To Make Perfect Chapbooks

(by Christina Anne Taylor of Middle Island Press)

I share these tips for self-publishers as well as for competitors who need guidance on how to improve their craft for the good of all. Caughtcha!

1) Begin with clean hands and a clean surface. There is nothing more grotesque than seeing smudges on paper, be they from dirt or jelly donuts. I begin with a clean table cloth and clean hands washed with a standard bar of soap that will ensure no oily residue.

2) Fold no more than two sheets of paper at a time. It’s time-consuming but a crisp crease is important, and to fold too many is to increase the likelihood of ironing wrinkles into the pages. There is no undoing wrinkles except by reprinting pages.

3) Use top-quality staples in your saddle stapler. (You do have a saddle stapler, yes?) It sounds small, but get the “premium” staples, because there is no surer way to make a new book look instantly used than by pulling staples and restapling.

4) Use a heavy-duty paper cutter (you know, the ones that begin at $130). It’s a wise investment if many chapbooks will be made. It allows you to trim three or four books at a time without books sliding toward the blade, and without deep indentations on the top and bottom books as the cutter secures the stack.

5) Use top-quality paper. 16-lb copy paper encased in 65-lb cardstock looks as cheap as it is, so please do your words a favor by packaging them in a way that shows that your words deserve respect.

Okay, make that six tips. If you feel a bit intimidated or just don’t have the time, hire an experienced subsidy publisher to do it for you. It can cost less than all materials needed to begin.

We at Middle Island Press are proud to be one of the best chapbook publishers on the Internet. We specialize in poetry.

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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in News & Reviews


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“Do What You Love”

A surprising number of times, writers have said to me, “work your magic,” and it always takes me to the memory of a coffee mug that I received as an office party gift some twenty-ish years ago. On the mug were lines of quotes, and I’ll never forget one in particular:

“Do what you love.” –Anonymous

I vowed to do just that to the best of my ability for the rest of my life.

Many years later and beyond employment, the household cash stash had dissipated and we (two bright but mildly dysfunctional creative types) were in need of maintaining basic necessities somehow. At some point I opened a book of quotes to a random page and read a quote by Aristotle:

“Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, therein lies your vocation.”

I enjoy weaving magic into my existence and assuming a higher sense of purpose, so I took it as a guiding message. I decided to grow Middle Island Press which combines my inherited meticulous craft skills, an uncanny eye for spotting things that are “out of place,” and learned visual-spatial experience. It weaves these gifts with my love of poetry and my anti-tech love of books in hard-copy so I can turn pages and rest my eyes as I read.

Indeed, I understand why people choose the word “magic” in summing my craft of chapbook design and presentation. It is because I do it with my whole heart (in part because I am dealing with the hearts of others through their poetry). Many people believe that business and emotion should not commingle, and I understand, but I “do business” with my heart and it has spoken of its effectiveness in little luxuries not afforded in a few years until recently, so…

I again extend my heartfelt gratitude to the ambitious writers who have allowed me to create a vocation of “doing what I love,” and who have also allowed me to upgrade my coffee back to the original Starbucks in time for my 40th birthday.


We at Middle Island Press are proud to be one of the best chapbook publishers on the Internet.

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Posted by on May 20, 2012 in News & Reviews


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Windows to the Ocean (and a Fine Introduction) by Mohineet Kaur Boparai

Windows to the Ocean by Mohineet Kaur BoparaiWindows to the Ocean (by Mohineet Kaur Boparai) is being finalized and is available for pre-orders now through Middle Island Press. We are excited about this collection for a few reasons: 1) the sensibilities of her poetry are unique in contrast with the Western mindset; 2) this young poetess amazes me with her wisdom and accomplishments (see her biography here); and 3) she has included her own introduction which is an essay in itself, and so I would like to share it here (having obtained her permission).

Enjoy, and don’t forget to purchase an extra copy of her book for a poetry-loving friend.

Windows to the Ocean Introduction:

Windows to the Ocean begins from hints. Immensity never burdens us. The universe never becomes a weight, because it comes to us in bits and pieces and through windows. What would it be like if we experienced and perceived everything at once? Life is about minuteness, about our minuteness, which ironically makes us moving- we think- to immensity. And yet, in our day to day life, we are aware somewhere, instinctively of our vulnerability and littleness. Life is all about escaping this littleness. When I write poems, I try to get over my minuteness. I try to become immortal. And yet immortality is only cultural. We can never know if we are always already immortal. Thus, poetry in a big way is cultural but tries in a misinformed way to be universal. Not only writing poems, but every kind of human attempt at knowledge is a jostle with our minuteness and an attempt at immensity. In this sense, poetry is like any other occupation. Only, it is not so conscious. There is more serendipity in poetry than in ordinary knowledge. This is what creativity is like. It is sudden, is a stumbling over, a chance meeting, and has a flow like dreams.

This book is an impression of the minuteness that infuses life with meaning through its meaninglessness. Poetry comes from what impresses on the mind and the spirit making it both imaginary and prophetic. Imaginary poetry does not mean that it is limited to the inborn and inherent creativity of one’s self. Prophetic poetry, on the other hand, does not mean that it is merely a communication from without; it can very well come from the prophetic voices that are inside a person’s being and life. The poems in this book are based on the minuteness of day to day life as perceived by limited human perception. In an age which is philosophically scientific, but is becoming philosophically imaginative, I indulge with poetry that is a mix of the two. It is universal in tone and hence speaks to humans in general. On the other hand, the poetry in this collection uses images that are personal and hence also exudes personality of the author in particular. This collection lies somewhere between confession and universality in its extent. Humans in general create the world (that is cultural) to understand the universe. This book, too, is a world. This world is both cultural and pseudo universal because the universe is seen through the microscope of culture and hence is never a firsthand vision. The world is a human creation to understand the universe. Thus all books are a world in themselves. Something is always left out but isn’t the world essentially incomplete?

The frailty of the body, the limitlessness of the soul, the idea of the relation between the body and the soul, but also the reversing of the ordinary notions of both the body and the soul, I found later are some of the movers of poetry in my book. The soul and the body of life come up in accidents. If there were no accidents, we would not know either body or soul. How does the body and soul emerge in life, is the root also of the emergence of poems in this book. The love poems in “I Keep Realizing Love, Dispelling My Own Fears” begin from a personal experience of love, but are not personalized. They move away from the soul, “the body is pulled from the soul” and they open “windows to the ocean” where life began.

This book about the bits and pieces of life ironically seemed complete in its sweep as I walked to each poem. And after writing every poem, the world was suddenly incomplete all over again. This kept the process of writing going. The poems came not because I knew the truth but because I knew nothing about the truth. Every time I was intimidated by a tree in a photograph, an empty cup or even colours, I wrote a poem to record my awe. In these recordings, sometimes, I reached the understanding of the objects and experiences I wrote about, but this understanding was always partial because before I understood the universe, I had to understand the sweep of language and what was in the human and universal unconscious, and hidden from direct view.

My poetry from the first collection has moved to this one in one major way. It has become philosophical rather than merely perceptive of physicality. It has attempted to enter the sphere of the unconscious more consciously. Often the meaning in poetry does not come prior to writing, but after it. When the complete poem, if there is one, is read, it seems that new meanings uncurl and the author’s meaning becomes not ‘the’ meaning but ‘a’ meaning in the several meanings that the poem takes on. A poem is inexplicable and has no edges like the constantly expanding universe that we live in. For the author to contend that the poem has specific meanings according to her and that she knows all the meanings of the poem, would mean an arrogance that surpasses patriarchy and colonialism. Such an author must be thinking that she is Divinity. On the other hand, all humans in their respective professions are nanotechnologists. We are all shoveling some kind of nanotechnology in our lives and trying to reach the immense through the minuteness. Immensity is formed of molecules, oxygen is molecular, and emotional arousal is cellular and molecular in essence. The smallest bone in the human body is the stapes that is in the ear. Catch the poetry, sprinkle it on the grave of the invisible and enter the mirror palace that stands on the end of the world.

Mohineet Kaur Boparai
April, 2012

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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in News & Reviews


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MIP Release: The Pathway by Raymond Neely

We are happy to present The Pathway which is Raymond Neely’s second release through Middle Island Press. Its subtle resonance is that which lifts the reader from here and now and into the higher and grander realms of being as only poetry can do. Pick up a copy of The Pathway through the MIP website and soon through

Raymond is also our most recent guest for “Coffee with the Poets.” Read the interview here at Poetica~Place.

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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in News & Reviews


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Coffee with Raymond Neely

Regional poet Raymond Neely is known of the locale of Mercer County [WV] as live reader and arts organizer, and throughout greater Appalachia as author of Appalachian Rivules as well as other chapbooks. His most recent publications include The Bluestone Review, Holler, and A Word With You Press. He is most devoted to the active practice of the art form of poetry.

(Read his full biography at Middle Island Press.)


(“Coffee With the Poets” interviews
are conducted by Christina.)

MIP: Hi, Raymond, and how do you prefer your coffee?

RN: I’ll have my coffee very strong with a lot of cream and a lot of sugar. Thanks for asking.

MIP: Having gotten to know many aspects of you through your heartfelt and insightful Appalachian poetry, it’s difficult to decide where to begin, so I’ll just start at the beginning. How long have you been writing poetry, and what initially inspired you?

RN: I began writing poetry at about the age of fourteen, and have loved doing it everyday since. I was first inspired to write poetry by the stars themselves.

MIP: That’s beautiful. In what forms did those early expressions manifest, and how do you feel that your poetry has evolved over the years?

RN: It took the form of “Gazed a Boy and His Father” of our latest project The Pathway. I’ve over time incorporated more forms and rhyme into my poetry from this early free verse writing.

MIP: You live close to the land as well and are certainly in tune with its communicative subtleties. What aspect of nature moves you to write most of all, and why?

RN: Both the Bluestone and New River Valleys are extremely inspirational to me about nature. The places are of pristine and extreme natural beauty, unforested, and ancient are the rivers and their valleys.

MIP: You connect with that which is pristine, where ancient truths echo from their source. This reflects in the clear imagery that elevates your poetry to a higher plane. If you were to be remembered for one stand-out quality within your work, what would it be, and why?

RN: It might actually be the use of nature imagery and the interactions between humans and nature.

MIP: Along that same note, if you were to be remembered for one singular poem, which would it be?

RN: Perhaps, “You Are My World.”

You bring forth before me
the life and essence
of the lands and places
for me, my mind and life.
Your emanations gladden the posies,
so sunshine smiles,
colors live, and
all that is does give.

You spurn the green from dormancy
and inspire romance.
You pull the lighted petals apart,
Cause the roaming rivers’ rapids,
and allow to live my labors’ love.
You beautify the dove.

You make the days and lands and skies
livid before my eyes.
You make me hear its sounds and cries.
All loves us.
You are my world.

MIP: Empowerment of femininity through a gentle sort of living hyperbole! I love it. We share a mutual love of chapbooks, and you have crafted several of your own collections in a time-consuming, “made with love” fashion that is inspiring. What drew you to chapbooks as a means of delivering your poetry?

RN: I was first inspired to begin producing chapbooks by a few competitions which I wanted to enter, and by delighting in the compilation of poems into collections with commonality, with a backbone of relatedness. I also love the length and easy-to-read nature of the chapbooks. I love the artwork and format of chapbooks.

MIP: How many chapbooks of your poetry have you compiled, and which one is your personal favorite, and why?

RN: I have ten chapbooks which are penned and compiled, some awaiting professional publication. My favorite of these is entitled The Pathway that I hope will soon be available from Middle Island Press.

MIP: Certainly. The sense of accomplishment that comes with completed projects is the reward for hard-working, goal-oriented poets, and speaking of The Pathway, [with time elapsed between the onset and completion of this “coffee break”] it is now being finalized. How do you feel that The Pathway differs from your earlier work, and what are your hopes regarding this collection?

RN: The Pathway is actually of my earlier work, and I only hope that it finds readers, and, where it does, that the poems may become dear to them.

MIP: You are active in your literary community. What projects have you been working on to enrich the literary art of West Virginia?

RN: Live readings, meetings, publishing…

MIP: You are too humble but I’ll respect your brevity. Your home and heart is in Appalachia. What is it about Appalachia that you strive mostly to communicate to others?

RN: Natural beauty is a primary aspect of Appalachia that I strive to communicate, and also, that which is “hillbilly” or stereotypical of our people makes for a good subject to write about.

MIP: I agree. “Get ‘r done!” as they say around here. You are a poet of the people, and I wish you an enthused and attentive readership in your life and beyond. *Clink*

(Raymond’s new chapbook The Pathway as well as Appalachian Rivules can be purchased through the Middle Island Press website. He has also self-published several chapbooks.)

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Posted by on May 9, 2012 in News & Reviews


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