poetry collections...

March 2, 2010

Results of the January 1-February 14 Open Reading Period

Bowling Green, KY—Steel Toe Books has selected Vertical Hold by Jeff Simpson from over 100 manuscripts submitted during our most recent open reading period. This will be the first full-length collection by Simpson, who recently completed his MFA in Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University, where he won an Academy of American Poets prize and served as president of the Creative Writers Association. Poems from Vertical Hold have appeared or are forthcoming in Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, The Pinch, and other notable journals. Reading this manuscript, our attention was first piqued by Simpson’s titles, which often hinted at the poems’ surprising and unusual subject matter: “Ode to Love Handles”; “Paris, TX”; and “Feedback Loop for the Apocalypse,” to name a few. Simpson held our attention throughout the thirty-five poems, conjoining moments of personal nostalgia and regret with pop cultural touchstones, as in these lines from “Elegy with a Balcony and Opening Credits”:


Sometimes you’re the accelerant, sometimes the charred meat

at the bottom of the grill. But maybe if I run my hand up your skirt,

remembering how your Nazarene father banned you from tank tops

and matinees because he knew what can happen in the dark,

then maybe we’ll be forgiven, and I’ll whisper, Are you the gatekeeper?

And you’ll say, Are you the keymaster? The movie is almost over…


We would like to make honorable mention of the following manuscripts:

The Trials of Edgar Poe by Ned Balbo

All Morning by Joelle Biele

Intelligent Design by Richard Cecil

Bearable Weight by Michael Cleary

Silver by Jason Mccall

Search for a Velvet-Lined Cape by Marjorie L. Manwaring

Keeping Still with Water by Christina Poreba

Childhood’s End by Doug Ramspeck

What We Sign Up For by Lisa L. Siedlarz.


One of the hardest thing about operating a Mom-and-Pop operation such as this one is having to turn away so many writers whose work we admire. Poetry is abundant, and resources are scarce. However, four writers who submitted to us during this open reading period withdrew their manuscripts because they were accepted elsewhere. We take this to be a sign that there are a lot of opportunities out there for writers who persist.

October 30, 2017

We are pleased to announce Steel Toe Books' most recent release, Street Calligraphy by Jim Daniels. Steel Toe Books acquired this title for publication in 2016.

Jim Daniels is the Thomas Stockham Baker University Professor of English at Caregie Mellon University, where he has been teaching creative writing since 1981. He is the author of seventeen books of poetry as well as numerous short stories and screenplays and the editor of multiple anthologies of poetry. His work has been featured in The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor, Poetry 180 with Billy Collins, and the American Life in Poetry series.

Street Calligraphy is, as poet Afaa M. Weaver says, "an honest and well-honed collection that will bring light to the lives it celebrates, our own." Aimee Nezhukumatathil calls these poems "moving and unflinching poems--brutal and brave." Daniels, a Detroit native, explores the city of the American Midwest, its concrete, factories, and graffiti: nostalgic, but not sentimental. "We never saw stars/above Detroit," he writes, "so why even look up?"

Street Calligraphy, will be available for purchase November 1, 2017, through Steel Toe Books (place an order here) and Amazon. For more information about Street Calligraphy or other Steel Toe releases, please view our titles here.

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