KUAF Arts Beat: Championing the Intense World of Small Presses with Forrest Gander

Sep 21, 2018

A letterpress cover to the 2008 Frank Stanford Festival in Fayetteville.
Credit Katy Henriksen

This weekend's Frank Stanford Literary Festival, which celebrates the life and legacy of Arkansas poet Frank Stanford also shines the spotlight on another Arkansas poet and seminal figure in Stanford's legacy: C.D. Wright, whose boundary-pushing poetry landed her a McArthur "Genius" grant and an internationally recognized career as a poet and scholar. 

"They were an important signal relationship," explains Forrest Gander, who became Wright's partner after Stanford's suicide in 1978. "And C.D.'s work continued to change, so it feels really great to see her recognized within her home state."

Gander, whose latest collection of poems Be With was shortlisted for this year's National Book Awards, is one of the many poets from across the country participating in this year's festival.

After Stanford's death, Gander stepped in to help Wright operate Lost Roads Press, the small press that Stanford and Wright began in 1977. He continues to advocate this intense culture.

"I think most of the interesting things that happen in our country begins with small presses," says Gander, "it begins with editors willing to take risks, which the big time New York editors aren't."

Hear the full conversation, as part of our KUAF Arts Beat coverage, in the on-demand streaming link above.

The Frank Stanford Literary Festival kicks off Friday, Sept. 21, with evening readings at Fenix Gallery and then Nightbird Books in downtown Fayetteville, and continues all day Saturday with panels, readings and screenings at St. Paul's Episcopal Church