Smile Politely

Get Lit Up with small presses at the Book Fort

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Accord on Saturday September 24th, the Book Fort is Pygmalion Festival’s Literary book fair in essence. Based out of Chicago, Book Fort is run by Naomi Huffman, the editor-in-chief at Curbside Splendor Publishing. This year’s Book Fort is a collaboration between the organizers of Book Fort and Pygmalion Festival. The aim of the event is to showcase what publishers and writers, locally and regionally, have to offer us. There are a number of large, medium, and small presses at Book Fort this year so there should be something for everyone.

Ninth Letter is the University of Illinois’ own literary publication produced by the Graduate Creative Writing Program and the School of Art & Design. Both departments offer courses that focus on producing the work inside the pages of the print edition and the supplement materials on the website.

Hobart started as an online publication that morphed into a biannual print journal. Then Hobart branched out into publishing books and poetry collections. Their publications seem to be very unique. They also have an annual baseball themed online journla for those of us who like baseball.    

Curbside Splendor Publishing is another Chicago-based publisher. They publish a variety of fiction, novels, and poetry collections. Originally, Curbside Splendor was conceived as a punk rock band in Urbana, IL. Now they are hosting annual novella contests and publishing books from their Humboldt Park location.

Featherproof Books publishes “strange and beautiful fiction and nonfiction and post-, trans-, and inter-genre tragicomedy.” With the help of Roosevelt University in Chicago, IL, they are a small but mighty print shop.

Magic Helicopter Press has bounced around the United States since its inception in 2007 to land in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They strive to publish across various platforms and in various media, but their print books are art objects in and of themselves.

Rose Metal Press is a not-for-profit publisher that seeks to publish hybrid genre works and highlight the writers who are striving to find new forms of expression. While they only publish three titles per year, Rose Metal Press hosts numerous events promoting the independent literary community, hybrid genres, and their publications.

Civil Coping Mechanisms is an independent publisher that has recently joined forces with the literary and non-literary magazine Entropy.

The Meekling Press specializes in small, handmade editions of works. They are a very small press that collaborates heavily with authors. They also use a letterpress.

7Vientos, a bi-lingual publisher based in Chicago, that publishes experimental, unorthodox, and intellectually risky works that are visually engaging. Their publications are highly detailed with attention given to every detail.

Vice Versa Press is a traveling press that relies on their current location for their printing capabilities. Because of their roaming tendencies, their publications are usually a limited print with unique materials.

Rescue Press is a wide-ranging small publisher of fiction, non-fiction, comics, manifestos, how-tos, interrogations, and everything else inbetween. Since the winter of 2009, they have been collaborating and publishing with activists, artists, philosophers, poets, scientists, and many others.

The Iowa Review is probably one of the most familiar names on this list. The Iowa Review  by the University of Iowa is known for publishing a variety of work by emerging artists and writers from a robust literary community. They aim to engage the reader in a larger conversation about contemporary literature and the world.

Forklift Ohio is a journal and small publisher that focuses on poetry, cooking, and a variety of other topics. In essence, this publisher is where you may find a poetry cookbook or a cookbook of poetry.

Other presses include: Two Dollar Radio, Midwestern Gothic, Ohio State University, Quiddity, Canarium Books, The Point, Booth and Pressgang from Butler University, and Montage.

Be sure to check out these independent presses and their selections at the Book Fort at the Accord (51 E. Main Street) on Saturday September 24th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Sarah Keim is a contributing writer for Smile Politely’s Arts section. She’s a bit of recluse on social media, but you might bump into her out in the wilds of C-U. She is not a pumpkin or the Pumpkin King, but she is ready for October.

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