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Because to write is not to run away
nor to turn off the lights
It is to love to pardon to redeem and condemn
to search everywhere
to break my heart against yours
and when broken not to tranquilly await the future
but to go out and light new fires

—Miguel Huezo Mixco

Curbstone Press is a place where the writers of many cultures meet, united by a common concern to produce literature that deals with social realities and that promotes a respect for human rights, civil liberties, human dignity, and multicultural understanding. Curbstone seeks out the highest aesthetic expression of the dedication to human rights: poetry, stories, novels, testimonials, photography. Editorial integrity is combined with painstaking craft in the creation of books, books of passion and purpose.

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     Co-directors Alexander Taylor and Judy Doyle began the press when James Scully returned from Chile with a poetry manuscript. Taylor says, "We were fairly certain that a commercial house would not do the book, both because of its attack on the Pinochet regime and because it was not of standard length. We published it because we felt the poetry was stunning and because we felt it was necessary for the public to know what was really going on in Chile." Both Alexander and Judy have their roots in the Civil Rights Movement, the Anti-War Movement, and the Solidarity with Central America Movement, and a long interest in publishing. These two drives came together when they formed their publishing company.

     Curbstone has become know as a preeminent source of translations of work by Latin American and Central American authors; however, one of their recent releases is a novel by Marnie Mueller about the injustice inflicted on Japanese Americans by their forced relocation during World War II, and it is a perfect example of their mission. Publishers Weekly called it "An engrossing character study." Alexander Taylor says, "It’s a story where no one person is either right or wrong, and it forces us to examine our own consciences."

The Climate
of the Country

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"An engrossing
character study"

     To publish a book means to maximize the potential audience for that book; however, funding is limited. "We have tried to make up for these deficiencies by developing an expert Board of Directors, by using a professional distributor, by making use of college interns and community volunteers, and by limiting the number of books we publish so we can maximize the attention paid to each book." Curbstone only publishes eight to ten books a year, so the competition is keen. Their Board includes publishing and marketing professionals who help them with specific projects, long-term planning, developing fund-raising and marketing strategies, and searching out promising manuscripts. Curbstone's other methods for maximizing the "audience" include arranging for paperback reprints of their hardcover books with major commercial houses and tapping into the educational market – Curbstone books have been used in university and high school courses.

     When asked "In this era of merger mania, what is the role of the small press—either to literary integrity or to publishing autonomy?" Alexander Taylor replies, "I think that is one of the most important questions for our time, particularly in a country notoriously underfunded in the arts . . . There is a huge conglomeration going on that puts a few corporations in control of the publishing industry and the media. This is a real threat to the exchange of ideas and critical thinking that is crucial to a democracy." He mentions the danger of censorship by publishers and the media and the question of nourishing writers, supporting them over the long haul when the sales of their books do not justify the expense. However, perhaps the best answer to this question is found in their most popular anthology, Poetry Like Bread:

I believe the world is beautiful
and that poetry, like bread, is for everyone.
And that my veins don’t end in me
but in the unanimous blood
of those who struggle for life
little things
landscape and bread
the poetry of everyone.

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