poetry magazines in their stock thanneither read or buy them. There arenmore people writing poetry than readingnit.nMy own experience is a good casenhistory. I was a member of The IrishnAmerican Cultural Project in NewnYork, and over the years we talkednabout having a magazine to complementnthe musical part of the project.nWe believed there were many IrishnAmericans who had something to say.nSince I had some experience withnpublishing my own poetry and prose innsmall magazines, I was elected.nOne thing I was sure of: little magazinesndo not survive if they are run by ancommittee. I was to be publisher, editor,nand printer’s devil. I settled on thenname. Adrift, because that seemed tonreflect the mood of the Irish Americanncommunity through which I moved. Inknew a number of writers both innIreland and in the US, and most of thenfirst issue was solicited from them andnfrom the writers who came to ournmusic events.nOver the years Adrift was listed innthe various guides to the small pressnworld. Then the avalanche began —nhundreds and then thousands of submissions.nI can count on my fingers thenwould-be contributors who had actuallynread the magazine. To make everythingndicier, not many more had read,nsay, the three writers whom I hold tonbe the most important in modern Irishnliterature: Flann O’Brien, SamuelnBeckett, and Francis Stuart. This hungernfor publication, which as a writer Inso well understand, is something tonbehold. I was not prepared for thendeluge, and the situation quickly becamendesperate: 99 percent of the stuffnI received was just that—stuff. Whennit was not a step-by-step imitation ofnwhoever was the latest in fashion, it wasnwritten as if nothing had been writtennduring the last hundred years.nAnyway, I print up a thousand copiesnof the magazine and get rid ofnnearly 900. There are 150 subscriptions.nI did three issues of Adrift before Inasked myself why. I wasn’t runningnThe New Yorker, which has to comenout every week because so much moneynis at stake. The manuscripts comingnin gave me no reason to keep on. Younhave to understand that an editor ofnsuch a magazine will probably read thenstory or poem more times than thenperson who wrote it. The poem is readnwhen it comes in, and, if liked, is readnagain and again. If accepted it is readnagain to see where it will be placed innthe magazine. After it is typeset andnproofread, the manuscript is read forncorrections, and then a final time,nbefore the paste-up goes off to thenprinter. When they come back thenpoem is read again. So an honest,nhapless editor is saying to himself uponnfirst seeing a submission: do I want tonread this X number of times, again? Incan still live, fairiy well, with the threenissues I have done so far.nMy first goal in selecting material fornAdrift was to establish my view of whatnwas going on in both Irish and IrishnAmerican writing. I wanted to publishnwriting I had not read before, and tonpay homage to the writers I had encounterednin my years of living innIreland. I was both honored and pleasednto publish Francis Stuart, whosenBlacklist Section H is one within thensmall group of absolutely essentialnbooks for anyone who wants to knownanything about modern Irish writing.nJames Liddy, Thomas McCarthy,nRichard Riordain, and Eamonn Wallnare the poets who come first to mind,nbut to single them out is to slight othersnwho are no less good.nI am still collecting material for thennext issue. The money is in the bank. Inhave poems by John Montague andnThomas Kinsella, among others. I havena story by John Jordan, but he just died.nI am still waiting. Sometimes 36 pagesncan be awfully difficult to fill.nIn a recent Publishers Weekly,nEmiie Capouya, a publishing veteran,nannounced that he planned to set up annew house and do 15 books a year ofnliterary fiction and serious nonfiction.nHe was quite pessimistic about thenfuture. “Conglomerate publishers arenchanging the reading tastes of thencountry,” he said.nMy novel, The Corpse Dream ofN.nPetkov, was published in March 1987nby Dalkey Archive Press. This treatmentnof the death of an anticommunistnBulgarian statesman was reviewed innThe New York Times in May. Thennumber of copies sold is a secret, sincenit is my book and well, you know, therenare the tax people, and my own frailnego. It received nine more favorablenreviews and was the subject of twonnnbroadcasts on the Bulgarian Service ofnRadio Free Europe. It received onenunfavorable review in a Bulgarian emigrenmagazine.nA year and a half after publication Inam still happy with the book and thenpublisher did all he could. It is stillnavailable directly from the publishernand can be found in four bookshops innNew York City and, I think, two innWisconsin. I have been congratulatednby a number of editors from big NewnYork houses and they are all happy tonsee N. Petkov in print, as long as theyndidn’t have to do it. No one was goingnto eat lunch at Lutece off the sales ofnmy book.nOf course, others better known thannI have had the same problems. Thenbest book published by a small press innrecent years is, to my view, Poison Pennby George Carrett. Still available fromnStuart Wright Publishers, it is a genuinenwork of satire. But only a smallnpress could afford to do it: in StuartnWright’s case there’s little money tonlose and no lawyers to worry aboutnGarrett’s to-the-point characterizations.nToday, as I was finishing this piece, Intook a break and was walking alongnSecond Avenue, when I ran into onenof the publishers of Amok Press. Henwas dashing home with a new booknabout William Burroughs, in whichnBurroughs was quoted as saying that anbook Amok is bringing out in twonmonths. You Can’t Win by Jack Black,nwas the most important book in Burroughs’nlife. The publisher tingled withnexcitement. He was dashing back tonrewrite Black’s jacket copy. Excitement:nyou can’t knock it, really. (Yes,nAmok Press did the collected writingsnof Charlie Manson. They are interestednin the truly marginal—though, afternall, Manson stalks American historynthe same way the killer Moosbruggernstalks the pages of Robert Musil’s greatnnovel. The Man Without Qualities.)nBut, I must repeat, the Amok guy wasnexcited about the book. Uptown, theynare always excited about a book — for anweek or so, and then it is time for thennext one. In the land of the small pressnit is a little different: the excitement isnin the book, the belief is in the book. Itnis a feeling of possession, of risk.nThomas McGonigle lives in New YorknCity.nJANUARY 1989/51n