Clyde Hill Publishing today announced that Frances McCue, the Seattle-based poet, author, professor and literary activist who co-founded Hugo House, one of the nation’s largest literary centers, will be the founding editor of a new poetry imprint devoted to discovering and promoting voices from rural America. Pulley Press will supplement Clyde Hill Publishing’s current list of nonfiction titles focused on the confluence of business, economics, technology, history and society.

“By our count, 87 percent of recent poetry winners and finalists of Pulitzers, National Book Awards, National Book Critic Circle and MacArthur Awards are from New York, along with a few other coastal cities,” says McCue. “We want to deepen and expand our literary future by spotlighting voices from across America.”

Pulley Press kicks off with several original new collections.

The first, “A MAN WITH A RAKE,” is a chapbook by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Ted Kooser. Though Kooser writes about farms and barns and fields and kitchens, he isn’t embroidering nostalgic cliches or quaint memes of farm life. His poems create surprising images from what some might perceive is a quiet life in Nebraska. The book is a short collection meant to be enjoyed in one sitting, or about the time it might take someone to rake a pile of leaves.

The second collection will be “MANKILLER POEMS” by the late Cherokee Chief Wilma Mankiller, whom the U.S. Mint will honor in 2022 with a new twenty-five cent piece bearing her image. McCue and Clyde Hill Publishing founder Greg Shaw unearthed 19 poems from archival boxes in rural Adair County, Oklahoma.

The third collection is written by poet Ricardo Ruiz, a U.S. Army veteran who served in Afghanistan and who hails from the farming community of Othello, Washington. Ruiz is part of a large immigrant family that migrated to the U.S. from Mexico. “WE HAD OUR REASONS” follows Ruiz’s passion for poetry into an unusual method of creation. Engaging friends and families from his community as storytellers, Ruiz encourages them to document their histories. Then he crafts poems from the transcripts and returns to the storytellers to approve each poem.

McCue calls this form of documentary poetry the “The Pulley.” The emerging press takes inspiration from the industrial pulley that enables workers to move heavy objects. A pulley can also be a squeaky old bit found in the back of a barn. Pulley Press engages with the gritty, tough world of overlooked America and aspires to run, as if on a clothesline, beautiful poetry into all corners of our country. 

Pulley Press is setting out to locate, encourage and showcase poetry by rural poets or poets who write from the rural experience. Future Pulley Press poets may write about their working lives and the places where they live. In all cases, the poets’ back stories influence their verse, bringing new conversations to light in American literature.