Reviews & News

Since our launch in 2012, Backbone has published distinct, engaging chapbooks by emerging and established poets. Our press, titles, and authors have been featured in interviews, podcasts, and reviews throughout various literary venues. Many thanks to those who support and highlight our work.

Entropy: Backbone Press

How did Backbone Press start?

Many moons ago, I was a graphic and web designer with a salary and benefits, but I knew I was really a writer, so I abandoned my career and took the sharp pivot to an MFA program and eventually started teaching in higher education. When I finished my graduate program and saw the bleak state of the publishing world in terms of poetry and diversity, I figured I could certainly put my technical skills to good use designing books. I had no starter funds for a press, so when I placed in a contest one year, I took the prize money and started the press. We ran on fumes for quite some time, but grew over the years. (read more)

Entropy: American Herstory

Poetry about political figures tends toward the dour, think Walt Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed,” about Lincoln’s death, or the stirring, like Elizabeth Alexander’s “Praise Song for the Day” for Barack Obama’s first inauguration. But Baltimore poet celeste doaks has written something very different. Her new chapbook is a bright maypole of a book, weaving colorful ribbons of poems around a tall, iconic axis – First Lady Michelle Obama … (read more)

Ms. Magazine: The Hidden Gems of 2019

This charming collection of poems honoring former First Lady Michelle Obama won the inaugural Backbone Press Chapbook Award this year. Beautifully rendered, these 18 works shine a light on what we all love about Mrs. Obama. … (read more)

Present Values Wins the Jean Padrick Chapbook Prize

Present Values by José Edmundo Ocampo Reyes floated to the top like a balloon. I read many fine chapbooks, but felt this one is something special – formally accomplished, emotionally rich, and resonant with our contemporary sociopolitical landscape. … (read more)

The Riddle of Longing: A Review by Dante Di Stefano

The Riddle of Longing, Faisal Mohyuddin’s ecstatic, brimming, debut chapbook begins with the lines: “We have always been the displaced children of displaced children, / tethered by distant rivers to abandoned lands, our blood’s history lost.” … (read more)

Memory of a Girl by: A Review by Naoko Fujimoto

For people of Japanese descent, it may be unavoidable to face the historical fact of World War II. Its repercussions are sunk deeply in Japan’s consciousness, and indeed, in the very landscape itself. Occasionally, people still find unexploded shells in construction sites. War memorials are held every summer, especially in Okinawa, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki. Unresolved peace issues dating back to the war remain unresolved between Japan and other Asian countries. … (read more)

Meet the Press: Dante Di Stefano in Conversation with Crystal Simone Smith

In her famous essay, “Poetry is Not a Luxury” Audre Lorde writes: “Poetry is not only dream and vision; it is the skeleton architecture of our lives. It lays the foundations for a future of change, a bridge across our fears of what has never been before.” Can you begin by talking about how the chapbooks at Backbone Press embody this kind of bridge? … (read more)

In the Margins: A Podcast for Writers

Managing Editor, Crystal Simone Smith has “a small press with a big vision.”  Smith describes her transition from graphic designer to press editor and the importance of publishers who support ethnic minority writers. … (read more)