This just in: thanks to your early enthusiasm and support, we have announced a stretch goal of $65k, and a new Kickstarter-exclusive project! Read all about it here.
Ursula K. Le Guin is best known for her groundbreaking, visionary, bestselling science fiction and fantasy novels, but throughout her life, she wrote, read, and believed in the power of poetry.
“I just knew from extremely early on—it sounds ridiculous, but five or six—that writing was something I was going to do, always... It started as poetry.”
When Le Guin brought the manuscript for her final collection, So Far So Good, to Copper Canyon Press, she did so with faith in us as a nonprofit, independent publisher to do justice to her poetry. As huge fans of her writing and ethos, we were thrilled to accept the book for publication. We were deeply saddened when Le Guin passed away in January of 2018, just days after she sent her last edits to what would be her final poetry book. This tremendous loss strengthened our resolve: Let’s do all we can to lift up the poetic legacy of this essential American writer.
So now we invite you to join us in a rare opportunity: Help publish Ursula K. Le Guin’s final collection of poetry! The book, So Far So Good, will be published in the fall of 2018—thanks to your help. This will truly be a community effort, and a community’s book. In fact, to honor this community element we want to print your name, or the name of a loved one, in every copy of the first edition of the book, when you back the project at $100 or more. Scroll down to “about the publisher” to learn more about our nonprofit publishing model, and read on for much more about the incredible Ursula K. Le Guin and her poetry.
Ursula K. Le Guin, award-winning novelist, poet, avid feminist, and environmentalist, passed away on Monday, January 22, 2018 in Portland, Oregon. In addition to being the author of more than 20 novels, she has written 12 collections of poetry, more than 100 short stories, several collections of essays, 13 books for children, and five volumes of translation. Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide.
She is known for her vast contribution to the genres of science fiction and fantasy with books including the Earthsea series, The Left Hand of Darkness, and The Dispossessed, which made her the first person to win both the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel twice for the same two books. In April 2000, the U.S. Library of Congress dubbed Le Guin a Living Legend in the “Writers and Artists” category for her significant contributions to America’s cultural heritage. In 2002, she won a PEN/Malamud Award, and in 2003, she was made a Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Grand Master, one of only a few women writers to take the top honor in the genre. In 2014, she was awarded the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
“Where I can get prickly and combative is if I’m just called a sci-fi writer. I’m not. I’m a novelist and poet. Don’t shove me into your damn pigeonhole, where I don’t fit, because I’m all over. My tentacles are coming out of the pigeonhole in all directions.”
Le Guin's final book of poems, So Far So Good, will be published in the fall of 2018—with your help—by Copper Canyon Press.
Here is one example of the powerful, often short, wise poems in the book we’ll publish together. You hear Silky, Margaret, and Ella reading some lines from this poem in our campaign video.
So Far So Good showcases Le Guin’s spiritual depth, quiet humor, and deep passion. She contemplates approaching the end of life with an equal sense of awe, mystery, and urgency that characterized her best-selling novels, but here the work is personal and sometimes nearly whispered—a voice speaking from the heart of the author.
Here are some words from Le Guin’s poetry editor and a few longtime readers of her fiction, on what it’s like to discover her poetry:
“It was a tremendous privilege to work with Ursula on her latest book. Like many great writers, she has been writing poems for much of her life, even while she saw her fame and recognition coming from other genres. This new collection is intimate and personal, and throughout the editing process she revealed a tremendous graciousness and receptivity, even while admitting to feeling a degree of vulnerability in the genre. Unsurprisingly, it’s a gorgeous book that celebrates the living even as she contemplates mortality.”
—Michael Wiegers, Editor in Chief at Copper Canyon Press
“She's been such a guide for so long in the work that she's done: in terms of how we think about the world, how we think about political systems, how we think about race and gender and class and relating to each other. Now it's in her poetry; she's a guide for how to process the world in different ways, how to process the environment, your day to day life, how you process the end of your life. ”
—Silky Shah, longtime Le Guin reader and Executive Director, Detention Watch Network
"It's interesting seeing Le Guin’s themes manifesting in different ways, through different uses of words. Her other books are largely fantasy, or science fiction. Her poetry is much more grounded in the real world—but a real world that feels mystical, and still has a sort of magic to it."
—Ella Wiegers, longtime Le Guin reader and student
"It felt like she was speaking my heart, my mind, something that I know but I never could've put into words. This was somebody that I felt like I knew.”
—Margaret Schonfield, longtime Le Guin reader and dancer/psychologist
“I’ve had a long career as a writer, and a good one, in good company. Here at the end of it, I don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. We who live by writing and publishing want and should demand our fair share of the proceeds; but the name of our beautiful reward isn’t profit. Its name is freedom.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin
For more than 45 years, Copper Canyon Press has been operating as an independent publisher dedicated to poetry. Our nonprofit status enables and requires us to place art above profit, and creative freedom above the whims of the marketplace. We are able to operate in the name of aesthetic excellence and cultural relevance, specifically because you and other visionary community members share this value, essential to a healthy climate for the arts. For this reason we were particularly proud when the Ursula K. Le Guin—none other than the literary legend herself—chose to bring her poetry collection to Copper Canyon Press.
Not unlike independent record companies and public radio stations, we rely on the support of donors like you, who share our belief that poetry is vital to language and living. The Kickstarter community in particular has helped us to publish major collections including Then Come Back: The Lost Poems of Pablo Neruda, The Essential W.S. Merwin, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil's Oceanic. We are proud to publish extraordinary poetry—in collaboration and community with you.
...and Realists of a Larger Reality
While Le Guin is best known for her major contributions to the genres of science fiction and fantasy, she was also a great poet. One of the fiercest advocates of our time for literature as a mode of social justice, her outspoken values shifted the literary landscape—a rare and invaluable combination.
“Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom—poets, visionaries—realists of a larger reality.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin, from a speech at the National Book Awards, 2014
When you back this project, you will help readers everywhere rediscover Le Guin: as a poet, and will enable Copper Canyon Press to continue to keep poetry publishing independent. Le Guin saw the role of the poet as visionary citizen, capable to envision a different way forward through difficult times. We see it as an honor and urgent obligation to continue this good work.
As a nonprofit publisher of poetry, only half of our overall operational expenses are covered by book sales, so each pledge helps us to sustain our community-powered model of getting poetry into the hands of those who’ll benefit from its power.
This just in: thanks to your early enthusiasm and support, we have announced both a stretch goal, and a new Kickstarter-exclusive project! Read all about it here.
When you pledge $100 or more to the project, your name (or the name of a loved one) will be printed in every copy of So Far So Good, soon to be on bookshelves all over the world and in the Library of Congress, alongside Le Guin's other great works. At $25 and above, you'll receive a copy of the book when it is hot off the press, before it's been widely distributed.
In thanks for your support of So Far So Good, you can also receive:
- A beautiful letterpress broadside featuring a previously unpublished poem from the book
- A selection of other Copper Canyon Press books: an entire fall season, an editor-curated package of bestsellers, or every single book from our annual list.
We at Copper Canyon Press are grateful for people like you who value poetry and the vitality it brings to readers. Thank you!
Risks and challenges
We are far enough along in the production process to excitedly anticipate a fall 2018 publication date for SO FAR SO GOOD. To get there will require a generous and supportive group effort from poetry readers, Le Guin fans, and the Kickstarter community. Now we begin the work of reaching all the people we believe will feel connected to her poems, and together we will move this extraordinary book of poetry out into the world.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)