poetry quarterly

10th anniversary

LITERARY ORGANIZATIONS ISSUE

Some Of Us Press

"SOUPing Up the Washington Poetry Scene"
by William Niederkorn
for The Washington Post, June 27, 1973

 

Some Of Us Press (SOUP) is the deliberately innocuous name of a non-profit corporation created in December by a group of Washington poets. Since then, it has published seven books—financing the first with a benefit concert and the rest with profits from sales—that celebrate among their pages the cities of Washington and South Orange, NJ, the politics of lesbianism and the non-competitiveness of poetry as art.
The editors, who plan to put out a book a month, started by publishing their own.

Boning Up, by Terence Winch and Blocks by Ed Cox have definite local appeal. "What There Is To Say," which opens Winch's book, immortalizes the Dupont Circle fountain and P Street Beach, among other things. And in his poem "Rats" he mentions several Connecticut Avenue restaurants:

In the Crystal City I sit with you
pretending to be drinking coffee.
In the Dupont Villa I listen to you
making believe I am listening to you.
In the Golden Temple you announce a change.
I lead you to believe I understand.


Cox, who was born in Washington, sings out about the impersonality of the city in a poem called "Evening News":

Summer, .......5:30, .......Northwest
Washington. Third day
of humid weather.
Stoops lined with young men
and women who drink wine
from brown paper bags,
.....................sip on Cokes.
Windows open.
Drone of air-conditioners.
Screen doors shut.
Trucks back-fire.


Michael Lally's book tells a lot about his young adult life in South Orange, NJ. It was the press's first book because he has a fairly well-established reputation, with poems in over 200 little magazines. The other poets had very limited audiences before their books came out.

These Days by Lee Lally (she and Michael are legally married) is clearly the most successful. The first edition was sold out in a month. A speaker for the lesbian feminist movement, she writes "to make a political statement nine times out of 10" and identifies with "the crest of the wave of feminism and changing consciousness."

Lee Lally is the only member of the staff who can state her social views easily. Yet these writers consider themselves to be involved in some kind of social movement. After tedious searching for a satisfactory name, Cox and Lee and Michael Lally finally agreed to calling it "a human movement which doesn't oppress anybody."

The ideas here are key to the innocuous label "Some Of Us," which carefully avoids the suggestion of competition between these poets and others.

SOUP recently published three books by writers outside the editorial staff: Edge by Bruce Andrews, Scar Tissue by Leonard Randolph and She's a Jim-Dandy by Sue Baker. Three more books, again by writers outside the staff, are presently "in the works" at the press which operates out of 4110 Emery Place NW.

The corporation's economics are simple. The cost of each book is about $150 for an edition of 500 copies. After the benefit concert in December, which financed the first publication, each subsequent book has been financed by sales from the books preceding it, with some help from small private contributions. The books retail for $1 each and are distributed to area bookstores. The income also has to cover mailing costs and miscellaneous expenses.

 

 

Published in Volume 11, Number 2, Spring 2010.