What Others Say about Negative Capability Press

Maureen Alsop

Thank YOU for the privilege!!! It's an honor to be among your authors and high quality publications. The cadre of writers you support and the high quality books you produce are top shelf! Elegant. Beautiful publications with an eye for detail. The production support has been phenomenal and increasingly generous at every turn. Your press is an exemplary example of what a small press can be at it's very highest potential: a shared vision in supporting the integrity and evolution of literary arts. Ingenious!

John Brugaletta

My book's title, With My Head Rising out of the Water, was a piece of prophecy. The book was not just put together, it was assisted at its birth by two expert midwives, Sue Brannan Walker and Hena Skelton. I gave them the text, and they turned that into a physical book with a cover to dazzle the eye of a browser on Amazon and with pages to carry the reader along on handsome paper and a tasteful typeface.

 I wish all my publishing experiences were as happy as this one.

John Chambers

When two of my poems were published in Negative Capability, Vol. XIV, 1994, I was in joy.   Later,  Negative Capability Press  published my  A Taste of Wine and Gentian (2000),  Collage (2006), andSuite for Stefano and Luisa-Gatta (2012), and  I thought that was an unbelievable achievement. Then I was honored when Sue Brannan Walker asked me to co-edit Whatever Remembers Us: An Anthology of Alabama Poetry (2007).

 Working with Negative Capability has been a grand experience!  I extend my eternal  thanks to Sue Brannan Walker and Negative Capability Press!

Diane Garden

Publishing my book Measure to Movements: Poems on Artworks was a challenging task, as the press needed to keep costs down to make the book affordable, but at the same time obtain top- notch photocopies of the art.  Sue Walker and Megan, the graphic arts editor, spent a lot of time and effort to obtain these results, which they accomplished. I am forever grateful to them.

Robert Gray

Working with Sue Walker and Megan Cary  is quite awesome. I've been humbled and honored to have had three books published by Negative Capability Press. Megan Cary is the best cover designer anywhere.  Sheer genius!

Melissa Dickson Jackson

My Medusa collection, Sweet Aegis, began as a private passion, but upon hearing a few of the poems it became one Sue Walker and Negative Capability Press shared. With Negative Capability's support and encouragement, it grew into a book length collection, found a physical form, and was celebrated by writers, editors, and poet-peers. That it exists at all is due to the generosity and foresight of Sue Walker. For that I am ever grateful and ever humbled. To be part of this amazing 35-year journey of one of our country's most enduring small presses is an honor indeed. My hat, my hand, and my love to Sue Walker and her essential, inspiring, and beautiful Negative Capability.

Barry Marks
Challenging yet respectful. Prompt. Caring. Willing to work, creative, committed to excellence, and possessing the talent to push the poet and the work to their full potential.

(At the risk of being precious) Positively capable.

My work is better for having been published by Negative Capability and I can think of no higher praise to give a publisher.

I give Sue Walker and her talented staff my unqualified recommendation. And I thank them.

Clela Reed

While going through the publishing process with Negative Capability, I was reminded often that it was a cooperative venture, that my opinions and preferences mattered. And Sue Walker and her staff were true to their word--even when my wishes may have caused added effort and time. I'm very pleased with the finished product of "our" book!

Sue Scalf

My experience with Negative Capability Press goes back a long way. Sue Walker  first published a poem of mine in the same magazine in which she published a poem by our President,  Jimmy Carter.

 Since then Negative Capability  Press has published "Bearing the Print," a full-length collection and "To Stitch a Summer Sky" which encouraged me with a  first prize chapbook award, judged by Mary Moran.  Both publications were beautifully produced, with striking covers, and both were thoroughly professional and polished  presentations.  I have always felt the warmth of Sue Walker's personal kindness, love of and support of poets and poetry.  Thank you, Sue, for your years of devotion to our chosen art form.  I count you a friend and I cannot say enough about all you have done for poets and poetry. Through your efforts and through you, your work, and your boundless and positive energy,  your press has received national attention and brought honor to our state.

Pat Schneider

In one sense, my acceptance for publication by Negative Capability Press was the most important of my life, because it was my first acceptance by an established and respected national literary magazine.  Just as we can never forget a first love, a writer can never forget a first important publication.  [Insert comic element here if you want it — see below]  Over the years, Sue Walker accepted more poems and finally published my first autobiographical book, Wake Up Laughing: A Spiritual Autobiography.  From the first poem and always, I consider publication by Negative Capability Press to be a joy and an honor.

 Pat Schneider, author, ten books including Writing Alone and With Others and How the Light Gets In, both from Oxford University Press.                                                              

(Comic and personal addition, if desired, may be inserted:)

[The poem was about one of my daughters.  When I told her it would be published, she said the equivalent of “Over my dead body!!” So I had the miserable task of telling the editor that I could not publish the poem after all.  To which Sue Walker, the editor, replied, “Oh, I understand!  I have two sons!  Just send me another poem!” That generosity, combined with an intense care about literary excellence, is a constant with Walker, and with Negative Capability Press.]

I met Sue Walker on a soccer field in Massachusetts. We were introduced by an extraordinary poet and mutual friend, Leo Connellan. I was very unsure of myself as a poet and Sue's interest in publishing my poetry gave me the courage and confidence I needed to put together a manuscript for a book. Without her encouragement, I don't know if I could have ever allowed myself to take the time needed to compile Devil's Lane (Negative Capability Press, 1996). I was working full time as a Professor at Southern Connecticut State University and raising three sons. I felt a constant sense of guilt because I worked rather than staying at home and being a full time mother. So I had great difficulty in allowing myself to do anything that was not strictly work related. I needed to write poetry for emotional reasons but I did not submit much of it for publication because it was too time consuming. In addition to publishing Devil's Lane, Sue also nominated it for a Pulitzer Prize and helped me get reviews in numerous national journals like Chelsea, Quarterly West, Cimarron Review, Puerto del Sol and Birmingham Poetry Review. As a result of my poetry publications, I was named the Connecticut State University Distinguished Professor in 1998, a title I still hold today. The positive critical response to Devil's Lane also enabled me to win the 2000 Faculty Scholar Award from Southern Connecticut State University. This award and the interest in my poems gave me inspiration for new poems and also helped me get grants that supported my writing. In 2000, I was fortunate enough to have Sue Walker publish Fair Haven.  The title poem in the collection had won the Ann Stanford Poetry Prize from University of Southern California. The judge was Marge Piercy. Fair Haven was reviewed in 31national literary journals including The Literary Review, Rattle, The Briar Cliff Review, The South Carolina Review, The Chariton Review and Blueline. I continue to write and teach poetry writing full time at SCSU where I was named The Faculty Scholar in 2005 and 2008. I am the only faculty member who has won the award 3 times. Without sons who played soccer, without Leo Connellan, Sue Walker and I might have never met. It's very possible that my life would have been very different because without Sue's confidence in me and my poetry, I suspect I might have become discouraged and never tried to publish my poems. There is no way to say thank you for the gift of so many years filled with friendships with other poets, the opportunity to edit Connecticut Review for many years because I was a poet and the privilege of teaching gifted poetry students for 45 years. Because of her generosity as an editor, her talent as a poet and author, Sue has helped countless others like me find their voice and help keep the creative spirit alive in a world that threatens to drown out song.

An Interview with Poet Maureen Alsop

A self-portrait.

A self-portrait.

Negative Capability Press has had the pleasure of working with poet Maureen Alsop, also an editor at Poemeleon and teacher at the Inlandia Institute and The Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative, on her forthcoming book, Later, Knives & Trees, which is projected for release in September 2014. A resident of Palm Springs California, she is the author of two additional books of poetry, Mantic (Augury Books) and Apparition Wren (Main Street Rag), is the winner of multiple poetry awards, and is the author of numerous chapbooks. Though she has recently been busy traveling, we were able to catch up with her for a quick interview.

Interviewer: First of all, congratulations on your forthcoming book, Later, Knives & Trees. What was your inspiration?

Alsop: Because she would not return, my mother. Her light surrendered mine.  So again death: source. Cyclical architect. Home intimated a textural precept, a self-capture. The body’s immersed compression, brush strokes. Myrrh, buttermilk, oak wood— inscriptions travel to the midpoint dissolve as prose.  Expansive: my lack of courage & love's dissolution pressures each boundary.

Interviewer: Do you have a favorite poem in this collection? If so, what is it about that poem?

Alsop: I like the poem "Sanctimony," even though it maintains a slightly accusatory edge. "(Untitled) Bijouterie (1)" as a reflective intermingling of voices within and beyond. "Inviable" is another favorite.

The untitled poem "your soul left slowly" resonates for me as an observational elegy. I wrote this from a sense of being within and outside of the consciousness of my mother in the year before she died. I grew in her presence and appreciate that this poem evolved through those moments when we were together. The landscape throughout that time being internal, personal, private.

Interviewer: I’m sorry about your mother. In my experience, writing can often be therapeutic. Would you say writing poetry has helped you navigate through your grief? Is poetry something you use as a way of making sense of the world/life/your emotions?

Alsop: My mother's death, her process of aging and dying was one source. The other source was a self portrayal/reflection captured shortly after her passing, which offered expansive questions on identity, the boundaries of individuality and dissolution. How we love all which is radiant and fading. When a loved one dies, intimate portions of our lives flake away and travel with them. These relationships and experiences are irreproducible and irreplaceable. Our country, my life at midpoint, the places I grew up are disappeared, and we are close to losing the great generation which my mother was part of. 

Poetry is an innate, natural touchstone, a source for understanding dimensions beyond typical structures of language. In many ways, a primal art, the basis for grief’s expression.

Interviewer: Once Later, Knives & Trees is published, who are you going to give the first copy to?

Alsop: Probably to my husband who is a consummate supporter of my work.

Interviewer: Do you have any readings planned yet?

Alsop: I am hoping to read in Hawaii in November in celebration of receiving the Tony Quagliano Poetry Prize. We will be traveling to visit family in Australia, so possibly in Oz as well. I will also be reading in Claremont, California in the Spring, and will be a resident at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos next year.

Interviewer: Congratulations on your win! You’ve also won the Harpur Palate's Milton Kessler Memorial Prize for Poetry and The Bitter Oleander’s Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award, as well as published two other books of poetry and numerous chapbooks. How does it feel to be a successful poet? Do you have advice for new poets who are just beginning to try to get their work published?

Alsop: I am not a big advice giver, and try to avoid it.  Work at your craft continually. Push in every able direction. Read. Don’t compare yourself to others. Do not balance “success” against typical standards; there really are no typical standards, simply currently accepted understandings. There are no perfections or imperfections.

Interviewer: I must ask: how would you describe your writing process?

Alsop: Fragmented by design as I often have very small patches of time or very limited stretches of time within which to work on a poem. Thus I may return again and again to revise and refine. However poetry lends itself to allowances for interruption, separation, distance. Prose obliged itself as form. For many versions, I removed titles, debated transitions within the collection. Ultimately returned to original structures.

Interviewer: Who are some living authors that you admire?

Alsop: "This is what it's like to live. The shutters bang, the end of my life begins. I am thinking of the black tongue of the king snake... No such Titan ever visited during my days as an aedile.”

From: Norman Dubie; Mark Strand, Beckian Fritz Goldberg, John Ashberry... These are a few lines from a few living poets that float through me. On occasion.

Interviewer: Before we’re done, can you write us a haiku about the room you’re in right now?

Alsop: This is not a haiku, obviously, but a collage of a view that my room gathers:


Maureen has been working on a series of videos in response to Later, Knives & Trees that you can find here: http://www.yourimpossiblevoice.com/poetry-videos-maureen-alsop/ . Visit her website, www.maureenalsop.com , to learn more about Maureen and to keep up to date on readings, book releases, and other events.