Announcing FLOWER, GRAND, FIRST by Gustavo Hernandez

We know it’s early, but Skull + Wind Press is so excited to announce the first book of our 2021 list we just couldn’t wait! Please help us in welcoming Gustavo Hernandez and his debut poetry collection Flower, Grand, First to the S+W fam. Flower, Grand, First will be published Spring 2021.

Gustavo Hernandez is a poet from Santa Ana, California. He was born in Jalisco, Mexico and moved to the U.S. with his family at the age of six. His poems have been published in Sonora Review, Assaracus: A Journal of Gay Poetry, Acentos Review, and others.

Flower, Grand, First is a collection about a body formed by the physical landscape of one country and the memory of another. It is an honoring of family, a recording of a personal history, a vulnerable but resilient spirit preoccupied with the mapping of time and place.

Just a remainder that you can support the publication of Flower, Grand, First and all of our titles by donating today!

Some recent poems from Gustavo including poems from Flower, Grand, First:

Acentos Review
Impossible Archetype
Word Riot

Hernandez author photo.jpg
Trevor Ketner
What It Costs to Run a Press

In solidarity with The Atlas Review after their recent announcement that they will be unable to open for chapbook submissions due to financial hardship, we at Skull + Wind Press have decided to make it clear just how much it costs to publish a book and run a press by sharing our projected 2020 budget with you. We feel like this perspective is valuable enough that the transparency and indeed vulnerability of sharing these numbers feels well worth it.

Now keep in mind S+W will be publishing two full-length collections and two chapbooks — TAR publishes six immaculate chapbooks a year so in many areas their costs are likely higher than ours. It’s also worth keeping in mind that the costs below are projected costs. Even if (and it is very likely) it is impossible for our publisher to be compensated, our costs will almost certainly be much more than this to actually get us through our first year.

Skull + Wind 2020 Budget Overview

Business and Editorial — $12,358.00
Production — $6,290.00
Marketing and Publicity — $5,633.00
Total 2020 Budget — $24,281.00

2020 Editorial/Business Expense Budget

Business Expenses
Website (Squarespace) — $312.00
Email (gmail business account) — $120.00
Accountant — $400.00
Bank Fees — $156.00
Unforeseen business expense cushion — $1,000.00

Membership fees
CLMP — $50.00
Fractured Atlas — $240.00

Editorial Costs
Freelance copy editor (Spanish; 1 hour) — $80.00
Publisher salary — $10,000.00*
Total 2020 Edit./Business Expenses Budget — $12,278.00

* Note: Should our budget be tight this is the first thing to go

2020 Production Budget

Covers (4 at $1000) — $4,000.00
Interiors (4; pro-bono) — $0.00

Full-length cost (2 sets of 50 author copies) — $324.00
Full-length cost (2 sets of 50 press copies) — $324.00
Chapbook Cost (2 sets of 50 author copies) — $281.00
Chapbook cost (2 sets of 50 press copies ) — $281.00
Shipping from printer — $140.00
Printer fees — $300.00
ISBNs (10) — $300.00
Copyright — $340.00

Total 2020 Production Budget — $6,290.00

2020 Marketing & Publicity Budget

Optional expenses
Press Launch — $400.00
Book Launches (4) — $800.00
Review copies — $648.00

Prize submissions
National Book Award ($135*2) — $270.00
Writers’ League of Texas Book Awards Contest ($70*2) — $140.00
For at-present unknown prizes — $200.00

Shipping supplies and equipment
Office Printer — $250.00
Bubble Mailers — $50.00
Labels — $50.00
Postage (400 at appr.. $5/each) — $2,000.00

Conference (this is in an ideal world)
AWP/registration/table (shared) — $325.00
Totes (100) — $500.00

Total 2020 M&P budget — $5,633.00

If you would like to support TAR head to their bookstore here to purchase a chapbook or two. Yes, our publisher has a book coming out from TAR, but if you are a supporter of S+W Joey De Jesus’ Noct might be the way to go.

We believe it is the responsibility of any good member of the publishing community to support others and that that kindness and support will come back to you. Also TAR just puts out some damn good books that everyone should read. Here’s to poetry big and small. Let’s help them continue to do the work they do so well.

Trevor Ketner

A great week for S+W and a great week for poetry! We are beside ourselves with excitement to announce the chapbook Dear Dorothy: A Home Grown Fairytale by Suzi F. Garcia which will be released Fall 2020!

Suzi F. Garcia is an Executive Editor at Noemi Press, where she has worked with authors such as the Grace Shuyi Liew, Roberto Tejada, Hannah Ensor, Thirii Myo Kyaw Myint, and Vanessa Angélica Villarreal. She has an MFA in Creative Writing with minors in Screen Cultures and Gender Studies.

Suzi is a CantoMundo Fellow, a Macondista, and Poetry Incubator Fellow. She is also a board member for the Latinx Writers Caucus.

Her writing has been featured in Barrelhouse, Fence Magazine, Georgia Review, Ninth Letter, and more. She has presented at PCA/ACA, AWP, and Console-ing Passions, among other national conferences. You can find her at or on Twitter at @SuziG.

Dear Dorothy: A Home Grown Fairytale is an engagement with The Wizard of Oz, a reimagining of coming home after being in a magical land with a girl you love. These poems connect the original fable with ideas of sexuality, mental illness, Latinidad, and more.

Helps us support the publication of Dear Dorothy: A Home Grown Fairytale and all of our 2020 titles by donating today!

Some recent poems from Suzi F. Garcia including poems from Dear Dorothy: A Home Grown Fairytale:

Puerto del Sol
Nat. Brut

Trevor Ketner
Announcing (Dis)placement by Esteban Rodríguez
Esteban Rodriguez.JPG

Skull + Wind Press is super stoked to announce we will be publishing Esteban Rodríguez’s second collection (Dis)placement in Fall 2020!

Esteban Rodríguez is the author of Dusk & Dust (Hub City Press, 2019) and the micro-chapbook Soledad (Ghost City Press, 2019). His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in New England Review, Shenandoah, The Rumpus, TriQuarterly, The Gettysburg Review, The Acentos Review, and elsewhere with poems also featured as part of Poetry Daily. He is the Interviews Editor at the EcoTheo Review and is a regular reviews contributor at PANK and Heavy Feather Review. Rodríguez received his MFA from The University of Texas-Pan American and lives with his family in Austin, Texas where he also teaches.

Of Rodríguez’s first book, Dusk & Dust, Javier Zamora, author of Unaccompanied, said:

Dusk & Dust begins with the building of a home, a metaphor from which the book unravels a lasting picture of a childhood along the US-Mexico border. The reader finds themselves in multiple vessels that can “act” as homes: barbershops, circus, flea-market, a body, a mouth, butcher shop, fields, taxidermy, etc. What belongs inside and what belongs outside these containers is constantly getting blurred. The range is huge, and as Rodríguez says, “the world can be reduced to the smallest space and the most uncomplicated people.” But there is nothing uncomplicated or simple about this beautiful important debut that instructs that “breaking something, anything, is the quickest way to make it ours."

In his second book, (Dis)placement, Rodríguez explores the hazardous journeys across borders and landscapes many are forced to undertake when violence, destruction, and the constant fear of death are subjected upon a land and people. His language is evocative and lyrical, and challenges the reader to confront the reality of suffering, (Dis)placement unveils the harm inflicted upon bodies and terrains, and documents the will to survive in the face of hopelessness and loss.

To support the publication of (Dis)placement and all of our 2020 Skull + Wind books please consider donating to the press on our Fractured Atlas fundraiser! We hope you will take advantage of our new 75 for $75 reward with books contribute by Graywolf Press, Copper Canyon Press, Alice James Books, and a bunch of our other favorite small poetry presses!

Poems from (Dis)placement

Blackbox Manifold 
minor literature[s]
Puerto del Sol

Other poems: 

Cold Mountain Review

Trevor Ketner
Did They Say $20K?! A Note from Our Publisher, Trevor Ketner

Okay so maybe it's time we talk about why S+W is trying to raise $20k for our first year of operation.

We’ve hit the half-way point in the lifespan of our first fundraising campaign (and 10% of our goal thanks to those amazing folks who already donated). While we still need a great deal more financial support to make it happen, the enthusiasm shown by our community for our project and the encouragement I have personally received made it apparent to me that it would be best for the press and our authors to take a leap of faith and move up our first season by almost six months.

Which cuts a huge chunk of time out of our original fundraising timeline making our fundraising even more important than it was before.

But recently we heard from some supporters of the press that our goal seemed so high. Too high maybe. $20K?! Why so much? Lots of presses and orgs run on less certainly, so why would we ask for so much?

Well, there are a few reasons, the first of which is practical: it is expensive to produce and promote books.

While we have taken some of the initial sting of up-front investment out by eliminating large print-runs and going with a reputable Print-on-Demand model, the fact is that we still have to invest a lot of money in printing books to promote. As part of our contract with authors, we are so happy to be able to offer them 50 author copies on top of a 30% royalty on all print sales. We would likely need to then print at least 100 more copies to send, for free, to reviewers, review outlets, and event organizers to get the word out about the book. All-in-all that would be about $400 to our printer. That’s per title. So altogether across our four titles, with chapbooks costing a little less, that would be around $1,500.

Okay, so we have books in hand, now what? Now we have to send them out. If we were able to send out all of our promotional copies in addition to our author copies that brings shipping costs (envelopes, PR printing, postage averaging out to something like $5 a book) to $2,500, at least.

So that’s $4,000 right there, already double what we have been able to raise.

But even before we get to this point we have design costs (very very conservatively $1,500 a cover: $6,000 total). And if we wanted to attend even one publisher’s conference (where many indie presses make the majority of their sales for the year) that would cost $1,500 at least. That’s already almost $12,000. Come tax time we will need an accountant. And book launches with refreshments. We hope to submit our titles to as many prizes as we can that’s hundreds of dollars right there. And don’t forget all of the impossible-to-predict expenses that come with doing anything on this scale.

And poof that $20K is gone.

I’m not trying to make you feel sorry for us. We chose to do this and we are happy to. I’m just saying that when we look at it, $20K really is about as little as we can have on hand to operate a press of the caliber we think our authors deserve.

Now you might be saying “Well, surely you can get some volunteers to give their time to the press.” Which brings us to the second reason we are asking for so much.

While it might be true that people are willing to volunteer for the press, a major part of the mission of this press is to address the dependence of most indie publishers on unpaid labor. As someone who has volunteered a lot of time (years) to various lit orgs I can say I learned a lot. I can also say I never stopped thinking about how essential my work was to the operation of these organizations and how I should absolutely be paid for it.

Anyone working in indie publishing is already overworked and we could not possibly ask someone to work for us for free. It just isn’t how we do things. But we also don’t want to compromise on quality, so that means being willing and able to pay great people as close to their rates as possible. We are also committed to extending the press’s mission of supporting the work of Latinx and Indigenous people into as many aspects of the press’s workings as possible. We want to be able to hire Latinx and Indigenous designers and accountants and interns and development professionals. And seeing as members of these communities consistently make less than white workers in their respective industries, we would never ask them to volunteer their time. Ever.

So, yes, people in indie publishing are willing to volunteer. But if we are going to really stick to our commitments, it isn’t a model we can use, even in these early stages. Truly, at this point, the only volunteer I’m willing to have work for Skull + Wind is myself. Everyone else will be paid.

And you may have one last question, “Well what about grants?”

Oh, we will be applying for grants. I believe deeply in the work we are going to publish and think we will undoubtedly get grant money. Eventually.

But many grants require a proven history of performance in your discipline. And who can blame them? Because of that though, we are not qualified for most grants. But, by this time next year, we will be! We just have to get to next year first.

$20K will by no means be the goal for any fundraiser we run for many, many years. Our hope is that from time-to-time we can raise maybe $1000 here or there to help cover things like shipping costs. We never want to ask for this much money from our community again. If I’m being honest, we don’t really want to ask for it now. But we have to. I have no access to wealth or to institutional support. All I have/ all Skull + Wind has is our community.

And this is a launch, a true launch. We are aiming as high as this little rocket will go, but we need the fuel to get us off the ground.

In time, we know we will publish books people want to buy and that grant-giving organizations want to support. And that will sustain us we have no doubt. But we need the means to get it all started first.

Can you help us do that? We won’t let you down. You can give here if you feel led and able.

With sincere gratitude,

Trevor Ketner
Publisher + Founder
Skull + Wind Press

Trevor Ketner
Announcing Itinerario del olvido / Itineraries of Forgetting by Nelson Simón, trans. Lawrence Schimel
Simón and Schimel author photo.jpg

Skull + Wind Press is excited to announce that we will be publishing the chapbook Itinerario del olvido / Itineraries of Forgetting, the first English publication of work by gay, Cuban, poet Nelson Simón with translation by Lawrence Schimel in Spring 2020!

Itinerario del olvido / Itineraries of Forgetting is a sixteen-part section series from Nelson Simón’s award-winning collection A la sombra de los muchachos en flor, which won both the Julián del Casal Poetry Prize from La Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba and later the Premio de la Crítica Literaria. Itineraries of Forgetting is Simón’s first publication in English and has been translated by Lawrence Schimel. Simón’s work tackles both homosexuality & politics (an act both bold and brave for an openly gay writer in Cuba in the late 90s) while at the same time situating itself within the lyric traditions of both Cuba and the larger Spanish-speaking world. Poems from these translations have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation and Cigar City Poetry Journal. The chapbook will have poems printed in translation in English as well as in the original Spanish.

Nelson Simón, born in Pinar del Río, Cuba in 1965, is the award-winning author of nine books of poetry and a collection of short stories. He has won the Premio de la Crítica Literaria, awarded annually by the Cuban Book Institute, seven times, as well as other prizes both within Cuba and abroad, including the Premio UNEAC de Poesía, the Premio La Edad de Oro in poetry and was first runner up in the Casa de las Américas Poetry Prize.

He is the author of the poetry collections: Ciudad de nadie, El peso de la isla,  Criatura de isla, Con la misma levedad de un naúfrago, Para no ser reconocido, A la sombra de los muchachos en flor, De la mala memoria y el verano, Las viles Maniobras, and El humano ejercicio de las conversaciones.

Lawrence Schimel writes in both Spanish and English and has published many books in both languages. He has won the Lambda Literary Award (twice), a Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and a White Raven Award from the International Youth Library, among other honors and awards.

As a literary translator, Schimel’s translation of La Bastarda by Trifonia Melibea Obono (The Feminist Press), is the first novel by a woman writer from Equatorial Guinea to be published in English. La Bastarda was declared an Honor Title from the Global Literature in Libraries Best Translated YA Award, a Notable 2018 Translation from World Literature Today, chosen by the American Library Association for both the Over the Rainbow List and the Rainbow Book List, and is currently a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction.

He has translated over 30 poetry collections, including the forthcoming winner of the Octavio Paz Prize from the National Poetry Series, I Offer My Heart as a Target by Johanny Vazquez Paz (Akashic Books, 2019), as well as Destruction of the Lover by Luis Panini (Pleiades Press, 2019); Bomarzo by Elsa Cross (Shearsman, 2019), and Impure Acts by Ángelo Néstore (Indolent Books, 2019).

His poetry translations appear regularly in Words Without Borders, Latin American Literature Today, Modern Poetry in Translation (UK), Pleiades, Río Grande Review, PN Review (UK), Tupelo Quarterly, Raspa, and other journals.

Trevor Ketner
Announcing Who Speaks for Us Here by Leslie Contreras Schwartz
Photo credit Danielle Chisler

Photo credit Danielle Chisler

Skull + Wind Press is impossibly excited to announce that we will be publishing current Houston Poet Laureate Leslie Contreras Schwartz’s third collection Who Speaks for Us Here in Spring 2020!

Leslie Contreras Schwartz is the fourth Houston Poet Laureate, serving from 2019-2021. Of her second book Nightbloom & Cenote (St. Julian Press, 2018), a semi-finalist for the 2017 Tupelo Press Dorset Prize, judged by Ilya Kaminsky, Jenn Givhan said:

Nightbloom & Cenote sifts into the dirt beneath the cracks of girlhood, uncovers a retribution of generations, of family and of birth and misfortune of daughters unloved and unprotected, from the ever-unfolding story of patriarchy and its brutality, and sings of survival in the midst of all that violence. Sinuous as vines and gleaming as nightblooms, these poems tangle and snake and take the generational blame, the guilt reserved for us girls who grow into women, and finally break the cycle, finally crack the sidewalks we girls/women have been buried under all these years. 

Schwartz, with her lyrical prowess, sings us to safety: “we will run out / this run belongs to us / both out that door with the baby and all her future babies and we will find all your sisters / my mother and hers.” These poems are steeped in culture and myth, are lush with the landscape of survival, are the voices of mothers and our mothering forebears who braid our hair and hold us as we weep, who teach us how, once our tears are dry, to fight back.

According to the Houston Chronicle, in her first book Fuego (St. Julian Press, 2016) "[Contreras Schwartz] doesn't use words to smooth over life's edges.” The reviewer goes on to call Fuego “a collection of clear, crisp poems that tangle directly with the stuff of life."

In 2018 Contreras Schwartz was a featured poet for the Houston Poetry Fest and she is an active member of the Macondo Writers' Workshop.

Her third collection Who Speaks for Us Here, examines the individual versus public bodies and documents narratives of those usually silenced, including people with mental illness, sex workers, women who are trafficked, and children in custody.

Contreras Schwartz’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Iowa Review, Pleiades, The Missouri Review, The Collagist, [PANK], Verse Daily, Catapult, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Her fiction can be found in Houston Noir, edited by Gwendolyn Zepeda (Akashic Press, May 2019).

A graduate of The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and Rice University, Contreras Schwartz is a poetry editor at Four Way Review and works as a lecturer at the University of Houston.

To support the publication of Who Speaks for Us Here, we humbly request you visit our Fractured Atlas fundraiser. If you select our $25 perk package or a perk package of $75+, you can not only ensure the publication of Who Speaks for Us Here and our other S+W titles, but can, in essence, preorder Who Speaks for Us Here!

Help us welcome Leslie to the S+W fam by donating, sharing, and spreading the word! 

And here are some links to poems in Who Speaks for Us Here:

“My Other Name” in [PANK]
”Autobiography in Fugue” in Rogue Agent Journal
”the way a flock of birds sets off in one large wave” in The Missouri Review
”Where Are the Children” in Queens Mob’s Teahouse

More Here Soon . . . .

We hope to use this space to keep you updated on the process of establishing Skull + Wind as well as original content from some of our authors.

Trevor Ketner