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wrrodriguez.com

wrrodriguez.com

Zeugpress is a micropress.

It  is pronounced ZE-UG-PRESS.

It began in 1991 with the publication of Village Streets by Mary Ann McDonnell. Mary Ann, known as Moma to her family and friends, lived in the East Village and participated in poetry workshops at the Tompkins Square Library and in pass-the-hat readings at Fraunces Tavern. She was a good poet who had the ability to take ordinary events and recast them in her distinctive voice. Her poetry captures the joy and pain and humor of life. I typed up about two hundred of her poems and organized my favorites into a manuscript. I was teaching high school at the time, and I bought the rights to the cover photograph from a student. Moma liked it. The photo was of an alley in Chicago, but Moma said it looked like a place she had seen in New York’s Chinatown. I paid another student to do layout. Then I found a local printer. It was nice to see a book of poetry evolve from a pile of handwritten poems. This was the first book with the Zeugpress imprint.

My experience with small press publishing began a decade earlier. As advisor to Pressions, our school’s creative writing club, I was involved in the annual task of producing a literary magazine. We began production in 1982 with typewriters and scotch tape. We moved up to Apple IIs and dot-matrix printers. Eventually, we scraped up enough funds for a secondhand Power Mac and Pagemaker. Thanks to the help of Mike Peterson, a former student who returned and served as our magazine’s technical advisor for about twenty years, I began to learn the basics of Pagemaker. By the time I retired, we had produced thirty-one magazines and a good number of student chapbooks. And thanks to Mike, every issue of Pressions magazine is archived electronically on the web site of James Madison Memorial High School.

In the summer of 2008, I needed to learn the new InDesign CS3 program. I decided to take my manuscript and create a book. In three months, concrete pastures of the beautiful bronx was ready to send to the printer. I used ECPrinting in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I found them in an online search, got a free estimate, submitted the book electronically, and one night boxes of books were waiting outside my door. ECPrinting did a great job with printing and binding; I did a great job with layout--at least I thought I did--and I was proud to have the Zeugpress imprint on the books. I used ECPrinting again for the sequel, from the banks of brook avenue, and for a small run of the shoe shine parlor poems et al: second edition. Together these books comprise The Bronx Trilogy. Not the sort of project many presses would be interested in, but somebody had to do it. So I did it myself.

I also began issuing the books in electronic format. Mike wrote html code for concrete pastures and the shoe shine parlor poems. They were online at Smashwords; they could be purchased but could not be sampled in that format. I followed Mark Coker’s Style Guide and e-published Village Streets and the rest of the Zeugpress titles on Smashwords in a format that can be sampled as well as purchased. These are done under the Zeugpress: Smashwords Edition imprint.

In February, 2019,  from the banks of brook avenue was awarded the 2018 North Street Prize: First Prize: Poetry. The prize, sponsored by Winning Writers, is for self-published books. I wrote the poems, and did the layout for both the print and electronic editions, so this indeed was a self-published book, and I am grateful for the recognition that Winning Writers provided. Part of the prize was a credit with BookBaby, which I used to print a very limited print edition of The Bronx Trilogy which has all three books under one cover.

As a career teacher, sharing the writing process has been part of my nature, so I created an Annotated Edition of  from the banks of brook avenue.  It includes all of the poems, commentaries on what inspired each poem, earlier drafts, and notes on the editing process. The electronic edition uses hyperlinks to allow the reader to leap back and forth from the poem/commentary in the main section to the earlier drafts/editing notes in the appendix. The print edition, if it ever gets done, will take a poem by poem approach.

As a writer and publisher, I am grateful not only to Winning Writers and to Mike Peterson, but also to my wife, who has helped me in so many ways over so many years, and to all who have taught me and encouraged me along the way.  And to all who have taken the time to read my work.

And I am grateful also to God, for giving me a life that has interwoven teaching and writing and publishing.

     --W R Rodriguez




Zeugpress