Welcome to the next installation of the Small Press Spotlight feature! Today’s focus is on Tucson, AZ based Kore Press, Inc, ardent supporters of the female voice in poetry and literature since 1993.
About Kore Press
Founded by Lisa Bowman and Karen Falkenstrom in 1993, Kore Press began with hand-crafted, limited edition books. In the last 25 years, Kore has expanded to solidify both its print and online presence across the nation without sacrificing its mission and vision “to provide a progressive platform for diverse literary and cultural work by women and transgendered writers, and to create innovative programming that puts different communities in conversation.”
A recent post by founder Lisa Bowman elaborates upon the cornerstone of Kore Press’s ideal of art as social justice, explaining that “we care for this literary and justice-oriented enterprise as we do for our families and communities.”
She goes on to explain that “Kore” is the Greek word for daughter, and that “riffing off of the Persephone myth—we embrace digging for deeper meanings as an organizational ethos and a creative framework.”
“We make art, do cultural justice work, and elevate the voices of women with the knowledge that we are a part of the local and national community, and we are dedicated to contributing to its health in these ways. We essay in public – curating our programming from the books that we publish, and from artists, thinkers and writers that create innovative ways of propelling public discourse in public spaces.”
Recent and Upcoming Titles
A meditation on light, human displacement, and longing, No Comet, That Serpent in the Sky Means Noise centers on a single conjecture: if light is a language sent forth from distant bodies and stars, what are we likewise saying into those black distances? Through hardship and loss, these poems invoke a hopeful solace in the subtle light that races outward from all beings with its enduring message. Lee invites us to admit the soft stellar calling of life, to listen to its missive of peace.
Body Burden is an investigation—into historical documents, public records, imagined letters, and into a rich variety of visual and linguistic forms. The poems invite readers inside the 10,000 foot level of the Comstock lode, arrays of spent plutonium rods and generations of a family, inextricably tied to economic and ecological disasters ‘marbling our part of the West’ from late 19th century to now. Body Burden invites readers to look, hear and experience the language and facts of history and science as more than evidence, but the stuff ‘we make our beds from/and lie among,’ the songs and silence of life itself.
Wire & Wail is by turns autobiographic, scientific, philosophic, and religious. Lusia Slomkowska wrote that after her second open-heart surgery, her physical limitations show up in her poems… not as crowns of thorns, but as other symbols of anger and grief: her shattered aortic valve was replaced with a porcine valve, making her a “pig-human hybrid,” or a “chimera.” In scientific terms, a chimera is a mixture of two or more species in one body. The procedure is called a xenotransplantation (transplant between organisms of different species), and the Greek word Xenos suggests several English words, including stranger, guest, alien, foreign, and strange, which also become themes in this book. Bioethics and religion enter the mix in questions like: Does a chimera have a soul? What are the long-term effects on humanity? And, what about animal rights?
handholding: 5 kinds is a collection of experimental poetry as a creative response to 5 artistic works by innovative American, African diaspora and European–based artists’ work: Kurt Schwitters’ Ursonate (recited by his son, Ernst), Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons, John Akomfrah’s 7 Songs for Malcolm X, John Cage’s 4’33 and Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut. Each of these pieces strongly contextualizes Morris’ own work and practice, dealing with the undertones and overtones of race, sexuality, class, gender, ethnicity, power and art-making. Each section is introduced as a reflection of what each piece means to the author and how they came about. The collection contains experimental text as well as 6 audio files (17 digital tracks). One is a “real time” response to the Kubrick film, the other is a collection of sound pieces inspired by the other artists, often recitations of the page-based texts. This is the first text and sound collection of Tracie Morris’ that is comprised of exclusively experimental work inspired by other innovative artists.
Beyond the Books: Social Justice Activism
Kore backs up its mission by actively engaging the Southwest community in a variety of initiatives. In 2011, it organized and implemented “Big Read Tucson,” a 10-week program celebrating the life and work of Emily Dickinson, partnering with everyone from local artists and students to the Sun Metro system and restaurants to promote dialogue about poetry and art. In 2014, Kore brought together female veterans and teenage girls to open dialogue in a feature called The Listening Project. The students, called Teen Grrls, interviewed the female veterans about their experiences in military service, creating a cross-cultural, cross-generational series to empower the next generation.
This year’s social justice initiative brought black artist, actor, experimental vocalist and scholar, Tracie Morris, to Tucson after an 8-year political hiatus to perform work exploring diversity, sound, power, and class. Her April 7th performance, An Evening with Tracie Morris,” was a powerful variation of the Stanley Kubrick movie, Eyes Wide Shut, where she injected the “black female perspective into a story where it does not exist.”
In Conclusion: A Call to Action
Kore Press is the real deal that “continues to focus on publishing excellence, raising the stage for a diversity of women, specifically writers of color and members of the LGBTQ communities -whose voices are historically repressed, or underrepresented. The Press was also designed as an activist’s tool for justice: our mission continues to be to educate youth about the power of voice and the literary and verbal arts.” It backs it up with its programming. And it needs support!
Right now, Kore is in the middle of its annual fundraising campaign via IndieGoGo to raise money for this next fiscal year’s operating and printing cost. The major reason I’ve decided to feature small presses this year is to bring real support to independent book communities that do real work and are dedicated to promoting diversity within the industry. And Kore does that in spades. There’s a number of ways to get involved and to support their work and mission:
- Contribute to the IndieGoGo campaign for operating and printing costs
- Become a Friend of the Press by making a one-time or recurring donation
- Sign up for the new monthly newsletter and invite friends and social media contacts to do the same
- Visit the Kore Press catalog and buy something! Titles are available in poetry, essays, fiction, and short fiction; also available is an uber-groovy “Sexy Brains” T-Shirt
- Follow Kore Press on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; share and promote the work they do and the authors they work with
Hope you enjoyed this latest Small Press Spotlight! Please spread the word about Kore! Yay!