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Small Press Distribution is gone. It’s unclear what comes next. But despite the very shaky last several years at the sole non-profit book distributor, it’s worth recognizing two things. First, SPD did more than most folks seem to appreciate just to make nonconforming literature accessible to those who lack ready access to a writing/reading community beyond the stale mainstream, for-profit and curricular boilerplate, both of which tend to misrepresent the agency of language to question, critique, and heal. Second, after the rise of AWP and MFA culture, SPD remained one of the rare organizations that didn’t solely bolster the entrepreneurial co-optation of interdisciplinary and experimental methods, and that involved sacrifice, foresight, and ingenuity. Actually, a third thing: Kenning Editions and hundreds of other presses just lost their only channel into libraries, bookstores, and the predominant “fulfillment” services that most folks use to acquire their reading material. Something will be done about that, but again, it’s unclear what that will be.
Anyway, Kenning Editions won’t be there. I was not planning to announce this, but I am dissolving the press at the end of 2024. This has been the plan for the last couple of years, to wind down and attempt to find a home, in the meantime, for the amazing books I am proud to have published—the last one dropping just two days before SPD’s demise. I founded Kenning Editions in 1998, as a journal. I was inspired by the mimeograph revolution in poetry and 1980s-90s underground music zines. In 2005, KE began publishing paperbacks and participating in the book trade proper. After 25 years of working in collaboration with authors, editors, and designers I trust and admire, I feel the need to move on to other activities. Marketing, fundraising, even printing and other basic operations have become unsustainable over the last several years. In addition, I have devoted so much of my time and energy to editing, publishing, organizing, and presenting the work of others—all while raising a family and working as an educator—that I have neglected my own work. I just hope I have made a difference in some small way.
Direct mail orders are being fulfilled through the rest of this year. Then the books go out of print. And the website disappears. Hearty harvest and immense gratitude to all who have been involved, bought a book, attended an event, and shared encouragement over these long years.
-Patrick Durgin, founder, editor, publisher, Kenning Editions
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