Tightrope Books celebrated 10 years and plenty of works of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and YA this year. Founded by poet Halli Villegas in 2005, Tightrope was conceived as a “writer-centric press,” involving its authors and poets throughout the publishing process.
Tightrope found one way to highlight writers and poets: annual anthologies. Inspired by David Lehman’s The Best American Poetry Series, both The Best Canadian Poetry in English and Best Canadian Essays gave works appearing in literary magazines a second – and longer – life in a book. The Best Canadian Poetry in English has been edited since its 2008 inception by Molly Peacock. Best Canadian Essays was first edited by Alex Boyd, then (up to the present instalment) Christopher Doda. Both feature different guest editors every year, and help to develop community, create dialogue, and increase the number of individuals—including many emerging authors, sometimes from marginalized communities—published each year.
Of course, Tightrope also strives to publish stand-alone works on the cutting-edge of their respective genres. Tightrope was proud to publish Lambda Award-winning author Jeffrey Round’s poetry collection In the Museum of Leonardo da Vinci as well as Anna Swanson’s collection The Nights Also, which actually went on to win the Lambda Award for poetry in 2010. Nathaniel G. Moore’s 2010 ReLit Award-nominated novel Wrong Bar proves that it’s not just the poets who get all of Tightrope’s (much-deserved) attention.
More recently, poet, novelist, and social activist Jim Nason has taken the reins of the press, and with that extended and emphasized its commitment to publishing books that mirror and explore cross-cultural conflict and relations. One such book, forthcoming in 2016, is Michael Fraser’s To Greet Yourself Arriving, a powerful collection of poems about the people and culture of the black African Diaspora. Nason has also launched the “Meet Me in…” event series, which brings poets and presses together in a different Canadian city each year to read and discuss poetry on human rights issues.