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ENGL 507 & 527 (SP13)


ENGL 507 & 527, Small Press Publishing and Small Press Tutorial

Tu, Th 3:00–4:15pm / LA-203
Professor Janet Holmes
426-3134 (office and voice mail)
jholmes [at] or holmes.janet [at]
Office hours: Tu, W, Th 3:00-4:00 pm or by appointment

Course Description:

Students in this course constitute the Editorial Board for Ahsahta Press. Ahsahta is a business entity as well as a poetry entity: the press publishes books according to its mission and then offers those books for sale through several channels. While the course will focus primarily on determining the finalists for the Sawtooth Poetry Prize and the Ahsahta Chapbook Contest, it will also cover the business of running a small press. In the final weeks of the course, Nancy Napier’s MBA students will perform a business audit of the Press, intended to identify ways in which we might improve our performance.

Readings: There are no books required for this course. However, your readings will be the manuscripts submitted to the 2013 Sawtooth Poetry Prize and the 2013 Ahsahta Chapbook Contest. You are expected to read all the manuscripts assigned to you, to evaluate them, and to forward them as appropriate. We will usually spend about 40 minutes of each class period presenting and discussing manuscripts.

Written assignments: All readers are required to make notes (in the “Notes” section of the Submission Manager file for the manuscript) on each manuscript read. ENGL527 students may be asked to serve as second-readers on manuscripts that are difficult to categorize.

Class presentations: There will be two kinds of class presentation. The first is the informal presentation of manuscripts that you will make during most classes. The second is on a topic chosen from among a number that pertain to current Ahsahta business. These might include:

  • How Ahsahta might better use the social media networks Facebook and Twitter
  • How Ahsahta might use social media not currently in use, such as Goodreads and others
  • How to capture a younger audience / how to attract young people’s manuscripts
  • The preparation of Ahsahta’s NEA grant proposal
  • Getting ready for the AWP conference, and what that entails
  • Advertising: where our ad dollars might better be spent
  • Devising a questionnaire in lieu of an Author Statement for authors to fill out
  • Making book trailers—and would they be useful for Ahsahta?
  • The Ahsahta Newsletter and a mailing list
  • Writing catalog copy and elevator speeches
  • Involvement in poetry blogs, websites, poem-a-day features, etc.: how to do it

Policies: I am happy to meet with students about any class-related situation, and especially encourage you to talk with me if situations in your life compromise your finishing the course.

  • Treat everybody in the seminar with respect and courtesy.
  • Familiarize yourself with, and follow, the Student Code of Conduct.
  • Attend every class meeting. I use the word “attend” in the senses of being present at; to take charge of; and particularly to give heed to. It’s especially important in this class, as Ahsahta is a business and must conduct itself as one.

Evaluation: This class is almost entirely based on presentations and discussions. Usually, you will have a sense of how often you participate, how useful your presentations are to your fellow board members, and your contribution to finding excellent finalist manuscripts for our judge. If at any time before Spring Break you are concerned about your performance in the course, please see me for a discussion so we can come up with a way for you to finish the class successfully.