One reason Dave and I took "fine press" as the third specialty of Kingdom Books (our other two are poetry and mystery) is that good poetry has always linked closely with fine press work. Sometimes it's the shared sense of beauty; sometimes it's the shared passion for words; and often, perhaps especially here in New England, it's the independence of thought. Broadsides, for instance, come up in American independence politically long before they hold poetic significance in our history.
I've been researching the history of New England fine presses and noting how the people involved have influenced each other. Cross-mentoring may be a new term, but it's an old habit. From practicing on each other's hand presses to feeding each other type to sharing poetry, the connections form a thick and necessary web.
So I found great delight yesterday in finding an extra set of strong strands that link today's Vermont fine presses with the Midwest: Michael Tarachow and his Pentagram Press affected the thinking of two Vermonters that I've spoken with lately, Bob Arnold (Longhouse Press) and Jim Schley (Chapiteau). And some of Tarachow's significant first poets were from New England: Bob Arnold (as poet), and Down East poet Ted Enslin.
I'm also noting the variety of presses that picked up work by Hayden Carruth. Arnold's press is strongly connected here, as Bob and Hayden became close friends.
To write or speak the truth (which, in my opinion, is one excellent strength of poetry) aligns so nicely with those who will shape it powerfully on the page.