By Anne Iverson
Lucinda Clark, the founder and publisher of P.R.A Publishing, wears many hats in and about the literary and publishing worlds. In a lively interview, she discussed several of these hats.
A: Lucinda, can you first give us a little of your background?
L: I had my start as an art dealer for 10 years and am the principal of Phoenix Rising Art Consultants.. I currently live in Martinez, Georgia with my husband, Robert, and we have two grown children.
A: One of your hats is that of Publisher. What were your reasons for starting P.R.A.? What is your background?
L: I started my company back in 2001/02 with the publication of a book of poems written by Jeanne McGhee, a visual artist I was representing. Back then, our local Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Books-A-Million, were eager to help local authors and would give them shelf space. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case today.
I truly enjoy working with emerging authors (international and in the U.S.), getting to know them, and developing personal relationships. We really care about our authors and I’m proud of the fact that 4 of our 6 titles coming out in 2016-17 are by international authors. (Of those books, one is YA Fiction and five are poetry.) Yong Ho Nam's My Love for You Before I had You, Derek Berry’s Heathens and Liars of Lick Skillet County and From Above and Below, Volume 5 of Middle of the Road series. Sighs and Murmurs, Poetry Diversified 2017, Growing Flames.
A: What about your Author Hat?
L. My first love is poetry. I want poetry to sing! I want to feel something when I read it or hear it. I enjoyed reading all of Dr. Seuss books, especially Green Eggs and Ham. He had such cool characters and I loved the rhymes!
I have a series of five poetry anthologies, View from the Middle of the Road. Volume one, Where the Greenest Grass Grown (2000), which I wrote with my children. Volume Two, U. S. .and Us (2006), features the work from four African American Poets. Volume three, Search for Knowledge, was published in 2008. Volume four, A Pathway to Dreams (2010), features contributions from all male poets. The Fifth Volume, From Above and Below, will be published in 2017. In 2013, I published Poetry Diversified: An Anthology of Human Experience, which features the collected experiences of the 2012 Poetry Matters Contest Winners.
A: What about your Poetry Matters Hat?
L: My husband and I started Poetry Matters in 2000 as a local writing contest in the Columbia County, Georgia, school system, which was designed to highlight middle school poets. The contest grew to include more categories—young poets (middle school and high school), adults (poets ages 20-60), and seniors (poets 61 and above)—and has broadened its scope to the “Poetry Matters Project, Ltd.” . We feature emerging poets— locally and globally, and offer opportunities (workshops and poetry readings) for the gifted poets in our area. Our contest is open to everyone and there is no entry fee.
I'm also working with Poetry Out Loud, a national program created by the National Endowment of the Arts Foundation. (According to its website, "Poetry Out Loud encourages students to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about literary history and contemporary life.”) I am pursuing channels to get our area high schools involved.
For those of you who live in or near the Augusta, GA area, Lucinda will be presenting Emily Cobb, Poetry Out Loud Outreach Program Coordinator (from Atlanta) on Tuesday, Dec. 6th at Open Mic Night at the Hire Grounds Café (3179 Washington Rd., Augusta, GA 30907) from 5:00-8:00 PM). For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A: How about your Explorer Hat?
L. Yes, I am interested in exploring different genres and possibly expanding the scope of P.R.A. As you're aware, the publishing world is a far different one than just five or ten years ago. Some of the literature genres I'm considering include science fiction, thrillers, post apocalyptic, fiction, and YA. I am NOT interested in romance or erotica. Whatever the genre, the focus for me (and the rest of the publishing world) is diversity.