Firing Up The Press Again

It seems we are firing up the press again over here at Virgogray Press, a long-awaited turn of events that has neither been in the making nor in the plan. But that is how life goes. We’ve been quietly publishing for some years now, both via the perennial and elusive Carcinogenic Poetry, and by way of my own books of poetry and fiction. As ‘the publisher,’ I found Virgogray Press best returned to the vessel it had become, a moniker, a vehicle to house my work, just as it had when this first began. Jumping back to the birth of Virgogray Press, in a computer lab, in a high school somewhere in south central Texas, the press was created for that exact purpose. I, a fledgling poet and writer, unbeknownst to me, a burgeoning publisher, began formatting and printing chapbook after chapbook of poetry. Saddle stitched, twenty page minimum. All of it on Word programs and bound by hand. Oh, yes, those early days of the new millennium could be viewed as tedious, but I never saw it that way. It was exciting to create something I loved as it was exciting to see my poetry in print. I didn’t say it was good poetry, but it was exciting nonetheless.

That is where Virgogray Press started. Some years later, as I took my efforts online, the internet saw fit to introduce me to a cast of poets that I would publish. 2008 is when Virgogray Press officially began publishing the work of other poets and writers. 2009 is when I opened Carcinogenic Poetry, Virgogray’s flagship and oldest poetry journal (and you know, Carcinogenic Poetry is not a journal about cancer, but someday everyone will get it). Carcinogenic Poetry is publishing again. We’ve had three marvelous entries by two US poets, and one Irish poet. One of the poets, Chris Butler, was previously published in CP over ten years ago! It was great to see he was still writing after all this time, but also in our pages once again.

Though I have been writing off and on for almost the entire past decade, and I have published work (The Distance to the End, 2016; A Trick of the Eyes, 2017; The Vanishing Poet, 2020; Even In Death, 2021), I did take a step back from poetry, and any poetry-type scene. The academic and the artistic, poetic or otherwise, in my view, became as infected as the world. With sickness, both mental and intentional. It is my thought that we now stand at the threshold of a true, brave new world, one where the truth and valor of poets is needed more than ever. Just as the comedian speaks truth through laughter and brings a striking levity that drives the point home and makes it stick, the genuine word of the honest and discerning poet will once again fill the cracks and the gaps of our cultural foundation. It is needed. Or we face meaningless, ineffectual, ‘garden variety’ verse empty as the trophies kids receive for showing up with their masks on to school.

With that said…

Where Virgogray Press will go to at this point shall be a daily progress. If you are a writer and would like to pursue publication with the press, your best bet will be via Carcinogenic Poetry. Are there more projects on the horizon? Yes, there are. In the meantime, feel free to peruse our library. Figure us out. We still have a few publications available. I highly recommend getting a copy of Donna Snyder’s I Am South, still quite available, and well worth the read (if you’ve never heard of Donna, she is a passionate poet of the southwest whose verse is timeless). There are a few more VGP publications discoverable out there on the interwebs, whether or not the press will receive any compensation for their purchase is another story. I’d say if you find a saddle stitched chapbook from 2008-2010, get your hands on it. Those are long out of print and I hand-bound all of those chapbooks myself. If you are a poet who has formerly published with Virgogray Press and are interested in working together on a project, I extend an invitation to you now. It would be nice to catch up, and today’s technological conveniences, I think would make for an interesting go at it. Right, then, enough said. Have a wonderful week.

Michael Aaron Casares

The New Age of the Poet

There is a great push, energetic with a life all its own. In all forms of art, poetic voice is giving wonderment to the age-old questions of life. There has only been times like this, when the poets are singing the origins of consciousness, when the ends necessitate the means. These times are impressive as interesting. The entire paradigm of reality and status quo buzzing with change, we begin to hear the sound of the light. The answer is in the process of the soul as displayed into art form via the poem. That is the main context Virgogray takes in sharing the work of others. Above form and structure, whether manicured or not, but maintained within the wellness of basic grammar, the content, the truth spoken in the artists words is the driving force. I have seen a spectacular display of such poetic art these past few days in the bustling period that is National Poetry Month. From the marathon that is the Austin International Poetry Festival to the continued poetic mayhem at the Austin Salon Poetic to the new faces of poetry I bore witness to at the Fresh Meat Poet Showcase to the independent TV broadcast celebrating poetry and Austin poets, the East By Southeast (EXSE) Poetry Showcase, to the poets slamming it around town at such venues as Spoken and Heard at Kick Butt Coffee and Ruta Maya Poetry, there was much to do in the month of April, and that’s not all. There’s much more I’ve not even mentioned. If there is one art form that is thriving in the city of Austin it is poetry. Of course, all art forms are, I just get higher doses of this one. But one thing I did appreciate, as at the venues I attended at this years Austin International Poetry Festival was the wealth of loving insightful, enlightened-like poems that were all about spreading light and being aware. And they are not new age type poems or sentiments, either, they are direct rays of truth shattering societal paradigms. Now that is art. Anyway. The richness is vast and growing still. As the influence of the artist is to surface the hidden and stifled conscience of man, and even as that has been seemingly compromised, that is why we turn to the local and the independent.  It merely takes an individual willing to share that with the community, and there are several examples out there. One mark I’ve always found important is a lack of consideration for the style or skill level versus the paramount message and content is the key equation when considering a fair and consistent standard among poet talent. Because not all of us are fortunate to have Harvard Masters in poetry, and that is not to malign the dignity of suffering such programs the academic dictates, but it is a truth we must all consider. The insightful work I’ve been exposed to, delivered in fashions all over the spectrum of poetry reading and performance, and its writing, naturally, have satisfied the desire of a deeper understanding to arise in the majority of humanity. It starts inside the hearts and souls of a few who burn as beacons and as candles, and spreads to the minds of many through the hidden net of consciousness and extols itself through the art and poetry of those who create. And it recycles becoming greater. I am looking forward to the many messages to come and to their deliverance, the voices to come.