Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Main Street Rag, December 25, 2008

The word “small” in the phrase “small press” is probably intended to refer to the overall monetary value of the press and its publications. It is not, however, a reflection of the press’s importance, quality, or number of publications. If that were the case, then Main Street Rag Publishing Company in Charlotte would long ago have outgrown the designation “small press.”
Main Street Rag (MSR) Publishing Company was founded in 1996, the brainchild of owner, publisher, editor, writer, bookbinder, and otherwise mostly amazing one-man-machine, M. Scott Douglass. Since that time, Douglass and MSR have produced nearly 1000 individual titles.
Not all of those have been Main Street Rag titles. Main Street Rag is both a publishing company and a book bindery. About a third of the company’s entire production history has been its own titles, books of poetry and fiction, issues of the literary magazine Main Street Rag, etc. The others have been books produced for other publishers, other journals, and individuals who have sought to self-publish.
No matter which way you look at the numbers, the production rate is staggering, especially when you consider that, with the exception of one part-time employee, a handful of readers who aid in selection, and other seasonal employees, Douglass does this by himself.
Equally impressive is the quality of the work MSR publishes. In the last 10 years, few published poets in NC have not had their work printed either in the journal or in book form by MSR. Irene Honeycutt, Glenis Redmond, Alex Grant, Ruth Moose, Gail Peck, Thomas Rain Crow, and Hickory’s own Tim Peeler are just a handful of the regional poets Douglass has published. And the books are beautiful. And inexpensive, averaging around $12 each. Locally, MSR titles are available at Taste Full Beans Coffeehouse in downtown Hickory. All titles are available at MSR’s website (www.mainstreetrag.com).
The role MSR plays in the writing world is not just limited to publication, either. MSR sponsors readings across the state, including Poetry Hickory, and provides a monthly electronic newsletter listing readings, classes and other writing events, deadlines for writing competitions, and submission information for other journals. The company’s website also features links to numerous other helpful writer-friendly sites. And, of course, the journal features poetry, short fiction, photography, essays, interviews, commentary, and, reviews of newly published collections of poetry.
All in all, Main Street Rag is an invaluable resource to anyone interested in finding quality contemporary literature or in pursuing publication of their own work. Douglass and MSR have become such a hub of the writing world in NC that I find it hard to imagine that world without them.

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