- ScenesDos Gatos Press an interview with David Meischen
Could you briefly describe your press’s history?
Scott Wiggerman and David Meischen founded Dos Gatos Press in 2004 as a nonprofit press when we took over publication of the Texas Poetry Calendar, a spiral-bound desk calendar featuring original Texas-themed poems in each week of the year. We have published the calendar annually starting with the 2006 edition. In 2008 we published our first poetry trade paperback, Big Land, Big Sky, Big Hair: Best of the Texas Poetry Calendar. Since then, we have published two poetry collections by individual Texas poets. Redefining Beauty (2009), now in its third printing, grew out of author Karla K. Morton’s diagnosis, treatment, and recovery from breast cancer. Letting Myself In (2013) brings the East Texas landscapes of author Anne McCrady to life. In 2011 we released our most ambitious project to date, Wingbeats: Exercises and Practice in Poetry—exercises by teaching poets from all over the country, which also became our first e-book. In 2013, we released Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga, the first in a series titled Poetry of the American Southwest. This collection includes writers from the Southwest, as well as world-class practitioners of the haiku such as Roberta Beary, Margaret Dornaus, Máire Morrissey-Cummins, and Charles Trumbull. This year, we followed up with Wingbeats II, collecting additional exercises by teaching poets not represented in the original Wingbeats. The Wingbeats books include some of the top poets in the country, including Naomi Shihab Nye, Patricia Smith, Tony Hoagland, Tim Seibles, Cole Swensen, Oliver de la Paz, Ada Limón, and dozens of others.
How would you characterize the work you publish?
Much of the work we publish is geographically focused on Texas and the Southwest, although our poets come from all around the country, for anyone can be touched by the Texas landscape, people, and lifestyle. We like poems that are accessible to a general reading public, poems along the lines of Mary Oliver, Martín Espada, and Ted Kooser, and we don’t tend to publish experimental or avant-garde work. This is not to say that the poems we publish don’t invite a second look. Take, for example, Susan Rooke’s poem, from the 2015 Texas Poetry Calendar, Like a Cotton Sheet Unfolded with a Snap. This poem, one of our current Pushcart nominations, has more to say each time you read it.
The desert dust billows before sinking, lying smooth. Sometimes the winds, hot or cold, willlift the edges with a flap, a gritty flutter. Dust is the fitted suit we come to wear.
The sky bores us all to death, white-chipped cobalt blue, a coffee mug upended in a “none for me, thanks” gesture to the great hands abovethat hold the pot tilted over someone else’s land.
They say dust is made of the skin cells we Shedinto the air like smoke, of meteoric bodies sifted through the fine weave of space. In this desiccated carcass of the West, dust is made of
mammal scat brittled in the sun, grasshopper wingsbuzzed to powder, rust mined from derelict strandsof wire. From this dust our lives are formed.When it cakes the corners of our eyes we call it sleep.
We also love formal poetry—sonnets, haiku, villanelles, and other forms. In fact, this year poet Jan Benson’s haiku from the Texas Poetry Calendar is another of our Pushcart nominations:
adobe walls at dusk —crickets knit the namesof the lost
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Who is your audience, and in what ways are you trying to reach them?
Our goal is to make poetry more widely available to the reading public and to support writers of poetry. With the Texas Poetry Calendar, for example, we make 80-100 poems available to the public in the highly useful form of a weekly desk calendar. We support the poets by publishing them, by featuring them on our website, and by sponsoring a fall calendar reading series, with poets published in the calendar reading from their work...