Publicist Picks: Mr. Feeny, Outstanding Poetry, and other March Books
Tayler Lord and Anna Weir are publicists at UNP who share a cubicle currently filled with cardboard boxes. Today they also share their thoughts about a few upcoming titles they’re particularly excited about as readers. The books in this discussion will be published in March 2017.
Tayler Lord: Me first because I can’t wait because FEENY! I’m obviously so excited about There I Go Again: How I Came to Be Mr. Feeny, John Adams, Dr. Craig, KITT, and Many Others. Whenever I tell someone where I work, they have a confused look on their face (not everyone knows that Lincoln, Nebraska is home to the twelfth-largest university press in the nation). Then I follow up with, “We’re publishing Mr. Feeny’s memoir,” and they immediately seem to understand me. And based on my interactions so far, we should have pre-sold at least fifty copies already.
I’ve read a bit of the book so far and I have learned so much about Daniels’ career as an actor—turns out he’s not just the Matthews’ family’s beloved teacher and neighbor. He’s worked in the entertainment industry for eighty years, with roles on Broadway and in television and film. I was also surprised to learn that he was the president of the Screen Actors Guild!
This is one of the most exciting books I could have asked to work with in my first year as a publicist. It’s a great testament to the importance of our trade list as a university press.
Okay, what’s your first pick?
Anna Weir: While Daniels’ book really speaks to the importance of our trade list, like you said, I think this next one speaks to the importance of our scholarly list. Justice for All: How the Jewish Bible Revolutionized Ethics is the latest from the Jewish Publication Society. Author Jeremiah Unterman breaks down Western philosophy, law, and thought, and traces those basic ideas back to the ancient Hebrew text, showing how our modern issues have their roots thousands of years ago.
I studied religion in college, and this book holds the sort of discussions my teachers would get excited about. The idea that, whether or not you believe the entirety of these texts in a spiritual sense, they’re still integral to our society. It’s an important book, one that I imagine will start some much needed conversation. Can’t wait to get my hands on it and see for myself!
What’s up next for you?
TL: I’m super excited about the three newest titles in our African Poetry Book Series: After the Ceremonies: New and Selected Poems by Ama Ata Aidoo, The January Children by Safia Elhillo, and Beating the Graves by Tsitsi Ella Jaji. The January Children is already receiving great press, so that adds a certain momentum to my efforts for all three of the books. It’s nice that all three titles are coming out in the same month—it makes the books a sort of package deal, and I think that can be useful for different reviewers.
This series is another good example of what makes the UNP list so interesting. I saw the series editor, Kwame Dawes, speak about the African Poetry Book Foundation (APBF) at the university last month, and I found it helpful and motivating. It was nice to learn about the origins of the APBF and understand the importance of publishing these African poets in America to create a space for their voices to be heard. I like being a part of the effort to get these books into readers’ hands.
I worked on the last two APBF books that came out in November, so it feels like this is my niche. I’m happy about the opportunity to grow with the series this spring season.
AW: Speaking of poetry, my next pick is Fleda Brown’s The Woods Are On Fire, the latest in the Ted Kooser Contemporary Poetry series. In the introduction, Ted Kooser talks about how the goal of this series is to present current poets who write in a meaningful yet un-obscured way. And that’s exactly what this book is—powerful, artistically rendered, and a sheer joy to read. Even to people like me, who typically pick reading prose over poetry because the intent of the author is generally clearer, this is a collection packed with significance, beauty, and meaning.
But that’s just what’s inside the book. I’m also excited for The Woods Are On Fire because I’m not the only one working on it. Joining me is Gold Leaf Literary , a team of savvy, charming women who are exactly, I think, what outside publicists and agents should be: champions for their authors. Their excitement for this book makes gives me all the more reason to diligently work toward its success.
Tune in next month for more great titles from your friendly neighborhood publicists!