Red Hen Press Twentieth Anniversary Anthology
We want to publish an anthology that honors 20 years of great writing & produce a free public festival celebrating art & literature.
Thanks for visiting Red Hen’s Kickstarter page! We’re excited about this project, and hope you might be too. It has three major parts:
- A big anthology of nearly 200 pieces spanning our eventful history;
- A free festival for Los Angeles celebrating literature and the arts;
- A book drive to support community literacy projects throughout Southern California.
Before we get into the nitty gritty, let us tell you a little bit more about who we are and what we do.
Hen House History
Red Hen Press was founded in Los Angeles in 1994 by Kate Gale, now the Editor, and Mark E. Cull, now the Publisher. What started as a tiny operation in their garage has grown into the largest independent press in LA and one of the largest literary presses on the West Coast. We publish about 20 books each year of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction, as well as a semi-annual literary journal, The Los Angeles Review. Our titles and authors are frequently featured in major media outlets and nominated for awards. Sometimes they even win (that’s 2006 and 2008 in Colorado). A bunch of them happen to be, or have been, poets laureate of their states (or city—this city, in fact).
We believe that literature is an essential human practice and that it must have a robust place in public life, which is why we do more than make books. Besides publishing, we:
- Operate a Writing in the Schools program that conducts creative writing workshops in several Title-1 schools in Los Angeles County;
- Run eight different reading series in Los Angeles and New York, pairing emerging writers with more established ones; and
- Give out $5,000 each year in awards.
Twenty Clucking Years: What We'll Do
In 2014, we’ll have been doing this for twenty years. That’s a long time. We thought a great deal about how we wanted to commemorate the occasion, and realized early on that we didn’t just want to do a book. Don’t get us wrong, the book will be cool—we’ll tell you more about it in a minute—but we wanted to do more, something more directly oriented to the community. It wasn’t long before we hit on the twin ideas of a festival and a book drive. We want to celebrate a broad sweep of Los Angeles’s vibrant literary culture and, in the process, collect lots of books to give to people who don’t have easy access to them.
The Twentieth Anniversary Anthology
All told, Red Hen has published over 350 books. We’ve done everything from a Holocaust memoir to an illustrated children’s book. We’ve done novels in blank verse and books of poetry that push the boundaries of form. We do short story collections and essay collections and poetry collections, novels and memoirs, even some libretti.
We want to showcase the depth and diversity of our catalog in one clucking big book: the Twentieth Anniversary Anthology (we’re working on a better name). The Anthology will feature nearly 200 stories, poems, and essays from a wide array of Red Hen authors, including Guggenheim-winner Chris Abani, four-time Pulitzer Prize finalist (!) Willis Barnstone, Ron Carlson, Camille Dungy, Percival Everett, Eloise Klein Healy, and David Mason, to name just a few. Beyond collecting so much wonderful work in one volume, the Anthology will chronicle twenty years of growth, with sections dedicated to, and commentaries on, the Press’s imprints and various editorial foci, including:
- Arktoi Books, an imprint dedicated to publishing lesbian authors
- Award Series Winners
- Boreal Books, an imprint dedicated to literature from Alaska
- Counter Culture
- First Books
- Los Angeles Writers
- Writing about Writing
Red Hen’s Editor, the irrepressible Kate Gale, will write the commentaries, as well as a general introduction explaining why she and Mark Cull got into this crazy business.
If funded, we plan to release the book in the fall of 2014. Everyone who pledges at the $50 level or higher will get a printed copy.
The Festival and Book Drive
A festival? A festival! We’re in the early stages of planning it: scouting locations, talking to potential partners, recruiting carnies, and so on. Why a festival? Well, LA has a reputation as something of a literary desert. It’s easy to understand where people get this idea—culture here being so dominated by the movies—but that doesn’t make it true. In fact, Los Angeles is full of folks dedicated to books and words and literature. The breadth and vitality of their work is amazing and inspiring, and we want to celebrate it. With a festival: activities, readings, performances, workshops, art, music—the whole shebang.
It’s kind of a crazy idea. But we have some experience with this sort of thing. Red Hen folks have a history of organizing and executing large scale events, such as LitFest Pasadena, or our annual champagne anniversary luncheon. We also put on many, many smaller events throughout the year. We know what we’re doing. Promise!
As for the book drive: everyone at Red Hen had their life changed by a book at one point or another. We want as many people as possible to have access to that experience. For many, the limiting factor is the actual presence of books, so we plan to collect a bunch, including many of our own (including many copies of this Anthology), and donate them to underserved schools, to retirement homes, and to literacy projects throughout Southern California. No one should want for books!
Where Your Money Is Going
This handy dandy budget graphic will explain everything!
Over the coming weeks, we'll be updating this space with all sorts of interesting stuff: a "Meet the Team" feature, testimonials from Red Hen supporters and authors, pictures from Prom, giveaways, and other shenanigans, so check back regularly for fresh eggs!
Click here to see our update on Poetry Prom!
Email us directly! You can get in touch with us here.
Without a community of interested, engaged, and literate people, Red Hen Press would never have been possible. Thank you for our first 20 years, and we hope you'll be a part of our next 20!
Risks and challenges
In addition to the funding issue, this project will place added strain on our already harried production schedule. However, we're quite accustomed to juggling projects, and with over 350 books under our belt, we've become adept at it. We are confident in our ability to make this happen.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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