A diligent poet and writer is single-handedly making opportunities for himself and fellow writers in Jefferson County. Carlton Fisher is an English Instructor at Jefferson Community College in Watertown New York and is the prime example of a poet on a mission, a prolific and almost intuitive writer who is heavily focused on sharing his poems with the masses.
Several questions were posed to Carlton to help readers understand his mission.
How long have you been working on the goal to have your own press?
“The idea, originally, was to start with just a journal, but as I started working on that project, I realized I wanted to be able to do more than just the occasional magazine. So about a year ago, I began thinking about how to put one together and examining whether or not I could merge that with everything else that I was doing in my life. At first, I wanted to call it Lake Effect Press–something with a decidedly regional flair–but it turned out the name was already taken, so I started thinking about ways that I could name the press that would somehow honor my mother’s family. I cycled through a series of different names, and finally, one night, the name Jane’s Boy came to me, honoring my mother. I decided to release my own book as the first title from the press to make sure that the process would work and the books would look good. When the book came out in November, I was really happy to see that it looked professional, and I felt safe making the commitments to putting out work from other people. We now have one more book coming out in the Spring of 2015, and another in early 2016, plus we are taking submissions for more work. Our submissions platform opened just before Thanksgiving.”
What factors have contributed to the press becoming reality?
“Surprisingly, quite a few things that helped contribute to the press becoming reality happened when I wasn’t even thinking about opening a press. I’ve had several jobs that involved needing to assemble publications–whether they were program guides, orientation manuals, or other pieces. So I had a working knowledge of the programs that I needed to use in order to assemble the publications. I also am very fortunate to have connections with some excellent poets who also work as editors, including Maria Mazziotti Gillan and Bryan Borland, who have been able to give me feedback and advice as I worked on pulling everything together. One of my co-workers, Christie Grimes, also introduced me to a web design platform that allowed me to be able to build my own web pages. Since everything for the press is handled electronically, being able to make the jump to the online platform was essential. I wouldn’t have even tried doing any of this if I wasn’t able to build the online resources for it.”
What factors have held you back? Presuming there have been set backs…
“There’s always the universal setback for everyone–money. It wasn’t an incredible amount of money to start everything up, but I didn’t have a reserve fund just laying around waiting for me to dip into. I managed to cover quite a bit out-of-pocket along the way, but I finally arranged a small loan from my retirement account which covered the last major start-up costs, and also allowed me to set some money aside for marketing and promotion. This allowed me to get the submissions manager open over a month earlier than expected, and we’ve already begun getting submissions. Over the next few months, there are a few outlets that will be running advertising on the national level, and we’ll also be promoting through some online platforms for writers.”
What do you hope to accomplish in the coming year?
“In late spring, we’ll be releasing our first full-length collection–the debut from a wonderful poet named Ann Clark who I have been fortunate to work with for a number of years now in workshops and classrooms. Ann has a sizable list of publications she has appeared in, and I’m very excited that she’s agreed to do her first book with us. In the fall, we’ll be releasing the first issue of Ishka Bibble, which is the main journal for the press. The journal’s identity is coming together as submissions come in. We’ll have some features in the publications, but also a wide selection of poets. We’re also going to review submissions and put together our release schedule for 2016, which already looks to have a very prominent poet featured as a part of the calendar, and there will be a subscription service of 6 chapbooks. We’ll also be looking for however many quality manuscripts we can find and realistically afford to promote as heavily as possible. We want to be a great outlet for poets, but we also want to make sure that we can put the full weight of our marketing behind each release to give them the best advantage possible. There is a decided market for poetry, and I think we have the ability to expand that market if we promote smartly and help to make readers aware of how vital poetry is for today’s world.”
Carlton D. Fisher is a Push-Cart Prize nominated poet and writer who works full time at Jefferson Community College as an English Instructor. His work has appeared in over 20 publications, including Assaracus, MiPOesias, OCHO, The Paterson Literary Review, Main Street Rag, and Weave. He is the founder and Executive Editor of Jane’s Boy Press, which is dedicated to publishing poetry chapbooks, full-length collections and the journal Ishka Bibble.
You can find out more at www.carltondfisher.com and www.janesboypress.com