Copper Canyon’s Winning Streak
This part of the world doesn’t have a whole lot going on when it comes to publishing—Sasquatch’s big success in recent years is their Nancy Pearl line (Book Lust was a surprise seller, and now they’ve done sequels and calendars and, I don’t know, have they done frisbees yet?), and Clear Cut Press makes beautiful books but they still don’t seem to have figured out how to sell them—but hot damn, Copper Canyon Press is doing amazing things, and they deserve all the praise John Marshall heaped on them in yesterday’s P-I. Copper Canyon Press won both the National Book Award (for a collection of W.S. Merwin’s poems) and the Pulitzer Prize (for a Ted Kooser collection) in 2005. Marshall describes, among other things, how the press managed to woo Merwin away from his fancy New York publisher, Knopf, and how it’s survived a ton of upheaval and stress, most of it in the shape of former publisher Sam Hamill, who bugs just about everybody (Marshall calls Hamill “a cantankerous, abrasive person”). It’s also a nice primer if you don’t know anything about the Port Townsend press. You should read it.