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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

The year 2008 will always be a memorable one for Aquarius Press. We debuted several new books, including the hugely successful It's Worth the Struggle: Inspiration for Contemporary Writers. We have been touched by the warm response to the book, validated in knowing that we created something of great value to writers of all walks of life. The company is also honored to have several of its authors get acknowledged for their works, particularly Karen S. Williams for Elegy for a Scarred Shoulder, which is being featured in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine and is a Michigan Notable Books, Anisfield-Wolf, and Black Caucus of the American Library Association nominee. John Jeffire's Stone+Fist+Brick+Bone is also a Michigan Notable Nominee. Karen, John and Felecia Studstill (Speaking No Evil) are all Pushcart Nominees, along with writers from our growing Reverie journal: Quraysh Ali Lansana and Antoinette Brim. Carol Atkins (The Trouble with Turtles) was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame for her lifetime achievement in writing and feminism. Dark River is a nominee for the CBS Kindred and Parallax Awards, as well.

The Aquarius Press Family thanks its readers for their support and extends wishes for a happy and prosperous 2008!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Aquarius Press Authors Continue to Shine

We're on a roll! Aquarius Press is very proud of its 2008 Author Roster. At each and every turn, you will find one of our exceptional authors, and we will continue our expansive growth well into 2009. The release party for It's Worth the Struggle: Inspiration for Contemporary Writers was a great success. We had a standing-room-only audience the entire night. Special thanks to Miguel Cateras and James Bongoe for the live entertainment, and thanks to our kind guests who came out on a Friday night to party with us. Here are more photos from that special night, and we were lucky to have so many of the 23 authors able to join us.
If you missed our opening night, or would like to see us again, join us Saturday, October 18, 2008 at the Oak Park Library for autographs. The library is at 14200 Oak Park Blvd, Oak Park, MI 48237 and we'll be there between 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Aquarius Press Author Interview: John Jeffire

Poet John Jeffire is having great success with his new poetry collection, Stone+Fist+Brick+Bone (2008).
In the following interview, he looks back on his progress in the literary world:
Q: How did you first conceive of the idea for this book?
A: I’ve had individual poems published over the past twenty years, so the idea of one day putting together a full book has been in the back of my mind for some time. With this collection, I finally felt I assembled a group of poems that could in fact be read as one long poem both thematically and technically, where one work would play off of and lead to another. I had enough material so that I could be selective and say, “This isn’t a bad poem, but it doesn’t fit what the group of poems is saying and it’ll have to wait for another collection.”

Q: How long have you been writing fiction? Poetry?
A: I actually began writing poetry first, as a college undergrad. Fiction came much later, after grad school, with short stories eventually leading to novels. Poetry has taught me to be more concise and economical in my fiction, while fiction has given me a chance to expand beyond the narrative constraints of poetry and explore some other terrain, or at least explore similar terrain in a different way. The two disciplines have been mutually beneficial for me, and I’m at the point where I don’t think I could just do one.

Q: Which is your favorite genre for writing, poetry or fiction?
A. I go through phases. When I’m working on a novel, though, that completely dominates my thinking and energy. When I work on poetry, I’m more apt to occasionally change directions with some fiction, so for me poetry is the more lenient master.

Q: What is the overall message you want readers to take away from this new book?
A: I don’t know if I’m so concerned with a message as I am with a reaction. I’d like readers to come away having made some emotional connection to the words and say, “That was real.” I’d like them to go back after an initial read and make the journey again and see if the poems strike them any differently. I want that emotional connection to stay with them, like the lyrics to a song that get caught in your brain and you suddenly find yourself mumbling them at odd moments.

Q: What advice do you give to aspiring poets, particularly local poets?
A: In a basic sense, an aspiring poet must read. A lot. A beginner needs to devour as many great poems by as wide a variety of great poets as he or she can and always be hungry for more. It’s no different than a young athlete watching the pros and thinking about and studying what makes them so great. Along the way, the young poet then needs to begin to define what his or her poetry will be and how it will be created. And then somewhere later in the process, the personal voice has to emerge.

Locally, I think a young poet should attend as many readings as possible and get to know people. Be a pest. Well, a respectful and non-stalking type pest. Ask questions at readings. Spend some time with other poets after readings and see what connections you can make. I wouldn’t be doing much of anything now if I hadn’t hooked up with M.L. Liebler and made an effort to be part of the scene. It’s easy to sit back and complain that nobody is taking your work seriously; it’s a lot tougher to get out and hit the streets and try to make something happen.

In a larger sense, a young poet must be prepared for rejection and intensive criticism. Mental toughness is an essential quality to possess, and the ability to continue writing during long droughts when there is no praise or positive reinforcement to be found. If you’re willing to face those realities, you might one day succeed.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

New Aquarius Press Authors Coming Your Way!

We are proud to welcome the following authors to the Aquarius Press family:
Karen Williams, Elegy for a Scarred Shoulder (poetry)
John Jeffire, Stone+Fist+Brick+Bone (poetry)
Min. Cheryl Coleman-Brown, Foundation of Love (inspirational)
Felecia Studstill, Speaking No Evil (poetry)
Carol Atkins, The Trouble with Turtles (collection of columns)
Look for these books on or order direct from us.

New Aquarius Press Authors Coming Your Way

We are proud to welcome five new authors to our publishing family:

Karen Williams, Elegy for a Scarred Shoulder (poetry)

John Jeffire, Stone+Fist+Brick+Bone (poetry)

Min. Cheryl Coleman-Brown, Foundation of Love (inspirational)

Felecia Studstill, Speaking No Evil (poetry)

Carol Atkins, The Trouble with Turtles (nonfiction)

In the coming months, you will get to know them well.

Friday, February 29, 2008

College Application Essay Writing Book a Dream Realized

It's been several years since I and a couple of fellow writers started teaching workshops on how to write college application essays. I personally believe that this is a neglected art, causing many of today's students of color to lose out on getting into college. While the book is for anyone interested in applying to college, it's targeted towards urban African American students whose life experiences, at first glance, appear to be drawbacks. These students typically have not seen much outside of their own community and cannot reflect upon a "backpacking through Europe" experience or "summer spent at Space Camp." Many of these students come from single-parent homes, some are foster care children, some are homeless--their dreams for college should not be overlooked.

The book contains writing prompts to draw out the uniqueness of every student's experience, and teaches the basics of good essay writing. We hope that this book will make a positive impact on today's students. To contact us for a college application writing workshop, email us.