Ugly Duckling Presse – Celebrating 25 Years of Successes

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From humble beginnings as a xeroxed zine of collage and poetry in 1993, UDP has become an internationally known publisher of poetry, essays, translations, performance texts, and books by artists, appreciated for its breadth of content as well as the look and feel of its productions which emphasize the materiality and labor of bookmaking. With more than 300 titles published thus far, Ugly Duckling Presse is celebrating 25 years of DIY small press activity and fervently utopian amateur spirit.

Throughout the year, 25th anniversary celebrations, exhibits, and readings, are being held around the world — Yogyakarta (Indonesia) in January, New York University in February, Moscow in March, Brown University in April, Berlin in May; and more are in the works. This summer, UDP is partnering with Mount Tremper Arts in the Catskill mountains of upstate new York to host four UDP authors (including Zahra Patterson, Mike Taylor, and Asiya Wadud) for a week-long residency that will culminate in a night of poetry and performance at Mount Tremper on July 28.

In the past decade, UDP has become one of the most prolific publishers of poetry in English translation, with a particular focus on underrepresented languages and locales, with 75 translation titles thus far. UDP brought out almost 10% of all new poetry-in-translation titles published in the US in 2017. Its Eastern European Poets Series has published more than 40 books and chapbooks since 2003. UDP has also published a significant body of work by Latin American poets from the 1920s to the present, and its Señal series, now in its third year, is bringing contemporary Latin American poetry to U.S. readers in bilingual chapbook editions. UDP will publish twelve titles in translation in 2018, including three new chapbooks in the Señal series.

UDP has provided training and small press / nonprofit publishing experience to 129 interns and 16 apprentices. Its interns and apprentices have gone on to work in for W.W. Norton, Zone, Random House, FSG, New Directions, Palgrave Macmillan, Literary Review (UK), Soft Skull, Akashic, Greenlight Bookstore, and McNally Jackson. At this time UDP is directing more time and resources toward educational initiatives and a revamped apprenticeship program, as well as reviving its seminar program for writing and translation workshops held in its studio at the Old American Can Factory in Gowanus, Brooklyn. UDP’s volunteer “Presse Days,” a longstanding open-house tradition, will continue to to be held at least once monthly. Going forward, UDP hopes to promote DIY literary publishing and small press traditions with students of all levels and devote more time to book-making, printing, and design workshops for young people. To that end, UDP is seeking partnerships with educational organizations and institutions and welcomes queries regarding such collaborations.

Built on pocket change, recycled and donated materials, and thousands of hours of volunteer labor, UDP took the leap to incorporate as a non-profit in 2002, and has since been the recipient of support from The New York State Council on the Arts (its first source of public funding), the Department for Cultural Affairs for New York City, and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as grants from several foundations and foreign cultural ministries, and donations from the poetry community.

In its 25th year, UDP will launch its first capital campaign toward establishing a sustainable future, to ensure stipends for apprenticeships and to pursue further educational programming. The campaign will be announced in June. In the fall of 2018, UDP will host a 25th birthday party in New York City to thank its community of readers and supporters.

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