SAFARI seems to no longer work
for comments...use another browser?

Friday, April 08, 2011

The House of Words (no. 14): Small presses: Phoenicia Publishing

Elizabeth (Beth) Adams is the founder of Phoenicia Publishing, a small independent publishing house in Montreal, and co-managing editor of qarrtsiluni online literary magazine. Her prose and poetry have appeared in venues from The Witness to Tikkun, and in June 2006 her book Going to Heaven: The Life and Election of Bishop Gene Robinson, was published by indie NY publisher Soft Skull Press. She is the author of The Cassandra Pages, a blog about art, life and spirit that has just entered its ninth year.
Such struggle gave these subjects to the queen
that consuming them with relish
gave her pleasure.

(olives, watercolor, 22 January 2010)
Marly: Writers are now confronted with many choices—there are major houses and midsize, presses of various sizes, nanopublishing, and self-publishing. What are the strengths of a micro-publisher like   Phoenicia Publishing? What do you see as your special strengths and past experience that contribute?

Beth:  Marly, I don’t know that we have any “strength” at all – all publishers are having a hard time. But there are several things I’m able to do that bigger houses can’t. One is to have a fairly narrow focus about what I publish, so that over time Phoenicia’s list will, I hope, can have an identifiable integrity. This will only emerge slowly, but it’s something that matters to me.
Her self-portrait from October, 2010.

I do know what I like and what I’m after. Some of that has come from a lifetime of reading and writing, but I think my skills and confidence as an editor have been honed by co-editing qarrtsiluni and working closely with my colleague and friend Dave Bonta. We see so much writing, poetry in particular, and have had to articulate to each other not only what we like and don’t like, but why. We almost always agree, but I know I’ve learned a huge amount and gained confidence through qarrtsiluni, and also through relationships with other writers that I’ve been fortunate to develop through eight years of blogging.

The main difference between a small house like Phoenicia and a large one is that we can afford to take risks on high-quality but quirky work that doesn’t fit elsewhere. If I see something that I’m crazy about and believe in, I can do it, while the big houses often can’t.

Beth's "Vermont Autumn" (2010)
Come back for more of The House of Words on Monday. Up tomorrow: "The Marriage Bed"


  1. you do great stuff, Beth - just finished reading Ren's book - lovely!!

  2. Thanks, Nic! And thanks, Marly -- I didn't expect to see my artwork here, in addition to all the talk! What a nice surprise.

  3. Beth,

    Aiming to please! And there is an awful lot to choose from on "the cassandra pages."


    You will be up soonish, too, I think. I still haven't figured out the best order. It keeps changing.

    I have Ren's book as well and will read.

  4. Love those olives (the lines and the picture)!

  5. Then you will like today's stones, I think!


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.