#TranslatedLit An overview of A Midsummer Night’s Press by Lawrence Schimel

A Midsummer Night’s Press is an independent poetry press, which started in the early 1990s when I was an undergraduate at university because there was a letterpress in the basement of my dormitory. I contacted some poets I knew, bought rights to poems and produced a handful of limited-edition handprinted broadsides by writers like Nancy Willard, Jane Yolen or Joe Haldeman. The press went on hiatus when I graduated, but was revived in 2007 when I started printing commercially printed books, in a small A6 trim size. I started with a little chapbook of my own, Fairy Tales for Writers, so I could make all the mistakes of being a neophyte publisher on my own book instead of inflicting my learning curve on another writer.

To begin with we published primarily in two imprints, Fabula Rasa, which focused on mythic and fairy tale inspired work (like my own Fairy Tales for Writers) and Body Language, which publishes LGBT voices (and which started with This Is What Happened in Our Other Life by Cuban-American writer Achy Obejas).

Since I am myself a translator, primarily from Spanish, translations were very quickly a part of our publishing program: in 2008 we published Banalities by Brane Mozetič, translated from the Slovene by Elizabeta Žargi and Timothy Liu, in our Body Language imprint.

A few years later, in 2014, I decided to start an imprint devoted exclusively to translations, and in particular to works by women writers, after learning that in the two previous years, women writers made up only 26% of all translations published in the US in fiction, poetry & non-fiction from all languages. Thus Periscope was born, which has since published books from women writers from Estonia, Slovenia, Spain, Lithuania, and Latvia, all of whom had published at least two books in their country (i.e. they weren’t a one hit wonder but were already established voices) without ever having had a translation into English before.

I have also published some projects that don’t fit into any of our main imprints, such as the first collection from Kurdish Syrian poet Golan Haji, A Tree Whose Name I Don’t Know, translated by the author & Stephen Watts, which we brought out on the occasion of Golan’s being a guest of the Shubbak Festival of Arab Culture in London.

(Lawrence Schimel writes in both Spanish and English, and has published over 120 titles as author or anthologist, in various genres and for all ages. His writing has been translated into over thirty languages, including Icelandic, Maltese, Estonian, and Turkish. In addition to his own writing, he works as a literary translator between Spanish and English.)

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