supporting poetry presses (cont’d)

As a follow-up to this post (in which I wonder neurotically if there are any online sources of information on accountability among poetry presses) and this post (in which Tupelo Press publisher Jeffrey Levine advises me to “save [my]self the anguish” and just get on with supporting), Michele Battiste offers this practical perspective (from the WomPo list, posted here with her permission):

“All nonprofits must file a 990 form. The 990 is an excellent way to see an organizations fiscal health and actions. ALL 990s are available on Guidestar, a website and organization that promotes nonprofit transparency AND philanthropy.

You must sign up, but membership is free to access 990 forms. You pay for more in-depth information. It is an EXCELLENT resource, especially if you are considering a contribution or a job at a non-profit.

Once you join, all you need to do is search on an organization, then click on the tab that says 990/Forms, and click on the most recent 990.

Tupelo Press has filed their 990s and the most recent is their 2007 (which is normal for non-profits). I’m sure Jeffrey won’t object to me posting this since it is public information and since he’s been very transparent in his emails. You’ll see that no board member is paid and that no staff member makes over $50K. You’ll also see that the cost of producing the books is much more than what they make selling the books. You’ll also see how much income they receive through sales, donations, grants, and other (contest fees and the like), etc.

I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector my entire career and believe that nonprofit transparency is the key to donor confidence and the continuation of philanthropic support. I’m sure Jeffrey will agree.”

Many thanks, Michele.

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2 thoughts on “supporting poetry presses (cont’d)

  1. I’m sorry, it is still a strange concept to me. Support poetry by supporting poets rather than publishers. Buy their books cos you like their poetry. I think the idea that we should buy poetry (or support poetry publishers) as an act of charity is a move in the wrong direction and as a poet I find it very off-putting. The idea is to change the business model for literature so it fits better with the new web 2.0 world, not have poets competing with the homeless, the starving and the disenfranchised.

  2. It really is an arena characterized by gray lines and general fuzziness that each individual has to navigate as they see best. It’s a fact, though, that many poetry presses do seek and obtain formal non-profit status. ‘Charity’ may be too loaded a word for the context — perhaps ‘nonprofit,’ as used by Michelle, is the better word.

    PS Some might argue that poetry and by extension poets *are* among “the disenfranchised”! ;)

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