The Announcement, Gilgamesh, tablets 1-4 Published Online!

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It is with a frisson of disbelief that Ampersand Press finally announces the publication of the first part of The Epic of Gilgamesh. The road has been long–12 years–and the moments of doubt many, but here is presented the opening 1,500 lines of Gilgamesh. The book is currently available on-line

Readers will be wondering why they shouldn’t wait for the completed edition of the story., which is due spring to fall of next year. The short answer is: a year is a long time to wait, and since it will in all likelihood be about 4,500 lines long, why not order the first third now and savor the writing?

Just a thought (or maybe even a suggestion). Heck, AP even advises its readers to buy the book. This version, available online at Lulu.com (and in 6 weeks, from Amazon and Barnes & Noble (say, by mid-June), reads continuously and includes material that focuses on the Epic’s hidden theme: the struggle between men and women for power (the Goddess Inanna is a character in the story).

Cool Beans!

AP

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Paper Edition of Gilgamesh Tablets 1-4 published on Tuesday!

Yesterday Ampersand Press got out its first print edition of Gilgamesh; this book includes tablets 1-4 with an introduction. The initial response was good and AP hopes to sell out its first trial run (50 copies) in the next couple of weeks.

Publishing a major excerpt like this is definitely a milestone, and of course there are the other books to work on. Not to mention Kindle and Lulu…AP will keep you updated as it moves along the publication milestones.

Wow! Amazing to see it in print!

AP

(p.s. and yes, the press decided to add tablet 4 to its edition at the last minute…more work, but more to read, too!)

Photo: Mace dedicated to Gilgamesh (end of the 3rd Millennium); Louvre Museum; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

The Dragons of Grammar

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Shortly after I started my primary blog, The Rag Tree, Margo Roby (whose blog, Wordgathering, is definitely worth a visit) ran across it and was impressed; thus began a friendship that  has been of benefit to us both. Chief, perhaps, of these benefits, from my perspective, has been Margo’s suggestion (back in November 2010, or thereabouts) that I post about grammar, a sorely neglected field, with the goal of making it a little less intimidating to those who might be interested in learning more. Thus was born the Dragons of Grammar, a thread in the RT’s posts that has attracted much attention and comment over the months.

It was also Margo who blithely suggested that she would be more than happy to buy a copy of any book based on the thread. And so, if for no other reason than to follow up on another of Margo’s helpful suggestions, I have been planning to issue The Dragons of Grammar in print. TDoG will probably be out sometime next year, when some time opens up after parts 1 Gilgamesh and A Daughter’s Song and Dance have come out.

Here is a sample of titles/topics: Build Me a Wing: the Ascent of Syntax; The Mystery of Vowels; Varmints! What to Do with Squigglies and Squeekies; and Words that Abduct Your Audience. Check out the essays on the Rag Tree. I guarantee a chuckle or two along the way…     AP

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A Daughter’s Song and Dance

It started with a manuscript my mother put together on a word processor back in the early 90s.  During her lunch hours, she tapped away at the keyboard, telling the story of her childhood. When she was a few months old, she had been adopted by a wealthy single lady who gave her an amazing, and at times quite demanding, early life.

The manuscript bounced around for a while, finally ending up in a box in my apartment. I read through the 100-page document and was astounded. The year was 2010.

Since then mom and I have been working to get her story published. Now we are nearly ready to get the first eight chapters in print. The effort has balanced out my obsession with Gilgamesh and been a revelation in itself.

Perhaps the biggest lesson I will take away from ADS&D is how quickly life changes. Though the broad outlines of life in America have remained intact, we have lived through several revolutions since the 1930s and 40s. And that is to say nothing of the life of my grandfather (he’s the handsome devil in white tie at left)–born in 1891, he decided at 6 to become an actor and then actually *did* it, performing on Broadway for several years in the 1920s. People back then lived their lives flat-out, and my grandfather was no exception. It is basically impossible for anyone today to live the way his generation did.

And then there are the practical benefits of doing this kind of research and writing. Self-discovery may be the most important of these, but so was the discovery of my grandfather’s photo, about a year ago, taken when he was 24. This is not the first photo we’ve found of him, but I think it is the best. And my mother, at 83, now carries it around with her in her wallet. That is a milestone, a very satisfying one.

Memoirs are important, and not just to a family. They tell the past in a way that few other genres can.    AP

Amassunu–Ampersand Press’s First Offering

Fact is, Ampersand Press already has one book under its belt: its publisher’s chapbook, Amassunu. Way back in November of 2010, this short but swell book emerged as AP’s first offering.  Sales have been modest, but then marketing has been nil (but work is in progress to correct the oversight).

And so this gentle reminder to readers.

Reviewing my own book would be cheating, so AP recommends that readers visit this review.  (And come to think of it, The Rag Tree has a whole page on the book; go here to read excerpts from the poetry.) AP will venture that the author was born in Brazil (hence the book’s title), spent more than half of his childhood overseas, and has spent his adult life in the DC/Baltimore region. He is a writer/editor in his professional life.

Trust the book, not the author: the book represents more than a decade of work on the author’s part and most of the pieces have been published elsewhere. The poetry is a mixture of short and long (including an excerpt from AP’s forthcoming Gilgamesh), concrete and abstract, city and country. Translations from Li Po and Wang Wei are included. So is some silliness.

Intrigued? Or just curious? Amassunu is available on this page at Lulu.com.  AP hopes readers will take the plunge, purchase, and savor.

Rollicking, Solemn, Risky, Sexy–The Long Poem

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Interested in spending

years

working on a poem?

After dealing with the likes of Gilgamesh, Ampersand Press is aware of 1) just how much work writing poetry is and 2) just how much *more* work is involved in the long poem (here defined as any narrative poem over 100 lines).

That is probably the reason why we see so little of the modern long poem out on the bookshelves. And yet most of the traditional devices of prosody evolved precisely to help poets telling an extended story. No wonder the turn to shorter forms has been accompanied by an exodus from the burdens of meter, rhyme, and stanza. (Not to mention the risky act of plotting.)

Yet some of the most satisfying poetry has emerged from the longer form–Homer, Shakespeare, The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, and The Highwayman offer an idea of the range of effect that can be achieved in traditional poetic lengths.

So AP will be keeping our eyes peeled for appearances of the longer poem–especially when it begins accepting submissions next year. How about the epic of your home town? Any idea what line 1,252 says?

AP

Drawing: Lucius Encounters the Murderous Wife, illustration from The Golden Ass; author: Jean de Bosschere; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

Unexpected, Unheard of, Amazing

You might be wondering why the English-speaking world needs a new small press. Ampersand Press, after all, will be publishing under the same tough economic conditions as all other small presses; the times aren’t propitious for starting a new publication venture.

Or maybe not. Readers may have noticed all the talk about networking, marketing, targeted audiences, profits, associations, conferences, content, and so forth. They might also have wondered what happened to a reader’s best friend: the good story. And what about a well-designed, handsome book, in an easy-to-use format that’s appropriate to the story? Could this be the fabled Shangri-La, an untapped market?

Of course, as William Morris remarked, everyone has a different idea of what Utopia looks like. And certainly there are many fine books that tell a compelling tale. But Ampersand Press has a suspicion that when all is said and done, publishers are paying too much attention to the mechanics of their business. Certainly mechanics are important, as Ansel Adams knew when he was struggling on the side of a dusty road to make the negative that became Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico. And publishers are keeping their eyes on such issues as plagiarism, copyright, libel  and plain old costs with good reason.

What’s really important is the poet scribbling away in a transport of excitement, the novelist thrilled that she’s finally found her novel’s voice, the odd individual designing wallpaper patterns freehand over breakfast. There are some venues for these people, but not enough. Publishing is about community, and until we start seeing more unmarketable talent published, we are failing to get some of the most heartfelt writing in the community into print. And there is a lot of talent out there.

There’s a certain gotterdamerung quality to publishing: we will keep publishing until there *is* no money left. Maybe it has to be this way. Beauty is always a bit shy and tentative; the truth is always a suspect caller at the door. Despite the ocean of published material that is available in our society, Ampersand Press believes that an important part of America’s voice is not being heard. We’re here to do something about that.

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And speaking of mechanics, our next post will have details on submissions and other nuts and bolts.