Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

Get to Know Literary Ontario, with Vincent Ponka of Emmerson Street Press

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Emmerson Street Press is an exciting new small literary publishing house in Thunder Bay. Readers will be drawn to their books by both the outstanding quality of the content and by the beauty of the books themselves. We had the opportunity to talk to the Emmerson Street Press publisher Vincent Ponka about how he started his press, what he's looking for in a manuscript and about Emmerson Street Press's first line of books, which will be published this year.

Emmerson Street Press is considering manuscripts for their 2011 line of books. The submission deadline is April 17. Please visit their website for details.

Open Book:

Why did you decide to start Emmerson Street Press?

Vincent Ponka:

For the simple reason that I wanted to help bring some great work to the public: fiction, poetry and non-fiction by writers that have had a difficult time finding acceptance with the mainstream publishers.

I know that there are thousands of great writers out there who have been working hard on their craft and the majority of them, regardless of their merit, will never make it to print. I think that is a shame and want to help. The world needs more great books to help counterbalance the row upon row of disposable mush that dominates the shelves of corporate bookstores.

As publishers across Canada and worldwide go out of business, I think it is all the more important for independent publishers to keep releasing books. I have had numerous submissions from well-published authors who are looking for a new home since their publisher has shut down.


Tell us about your forthcoming books.


Let me begin by saying that to be considered for our 2011 line, writers need to submit by April 17, 2023.

We plan to publish four to six original works in 2011 and have plans to put out a few gorgeous reprints as well.

We have chosen three works so far:

1. No Prisoners! Writing for the Screen by Mark Achtenberg.

Mark has spent years working as a writer, director and editor in Toronto. I am in love with his blog on which he writes about film. When I first started this press he was the first writer I contacted. I asked him to give me a book on film, whatever subject interested him most, and he immediately said he wanted to write a book on scriptwriting. How could I say no? His knowledge and his easy-going style will make this a great book. He currently teaches at Humber College's film program and is writing a program that airs on CBC television.

2. Nothing Could Be Further by Tim Conley.

Tim has written a superb book of short stories. A literary gem. These witty and diverse stories display a writer in top form and as I read this submission I felt more and more excited at the prospect of releasing it. As a reader I am already looking forward to Tim's next book. Get writing, Tim! Nothing Could Be Further is Tim's seventh book. He is a professor of comparative literature at Brock University.

3. The Lake Diary by Arthur Bull.

This is the sort of book of poems that you read and re-read so much that it falls apart. At turns focused on Arthur's love of the natural world, Chinese literature and music, these poems are gorgeous and make for a delightful book. Arthur currently lives in Nova Scotia and has toured widely as an avant-garde guitarist. This is his second book of poems.

Deciding on the final few books is going to be difficult!


You're a writer as well as a publisher. How do you find the time?


It's not easy! To further complicate matters, I have twins that will be two years old in May, and I also live in a 100-year old house with a view of Lake Superior that my wife and I are renovating. I admit that with all of this on my plate, it hasn't been easy to find the time to write. I have a couple of novels that have been bouncing around my head, as well as a book on jazz, but I haven't been able to make the commitment that a new book would require. Perhaps this summer.

I have managed to write some poems, but my primary focus has been on evaluating the writing of those who have submitted to Emmerson Street Press.


What sort of manuscripts is Emmerson Street Press looking for?


Emmerson Street Press is a publisher of literary fiction, non-fiction and poetry. I am seeking well-written books that have at least a touch of the avant garde.

As I am reading submissions the main thing I hope to find is a book that excites me as a reader. I like books that use language extremely well have a strong style and a sense for life.

I love the work of William Gaddis, Thomas Pynchon, Kathy Acker, Samuel Beckett and others that push boundaries, but I also enjoy the more straight-forward styles of Robertson Davies, W.P. Kinsella, John Updike, A.S. Byatt and others.

In terms of non-fiction, I would love to read books on the arts, politics and history.


How do writers submit their work to Emmerson Street Press?


Send the complete manuscript, a short synopsis and a cover letter to [email protected].

Check out our website ( for complete submission guidelines.

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