The Importance of Regional Publishing
In the spirit of partnership that pervades the university press community, Syracuse University Press and 36 other presses unite for the AAUP’s second annual blog tour during University Press Week. The tour highlights the value of university presses and the contributions they make to scholarship and our society.
Schedule your week’s reading with the complete blog tour schedule here http://bit.ly/HjQX7n.
Today’s theme is the importance of regional publishing, discussed by one of our favorite regional authors, Chuck D’Imperio.
Regional publishing is a wonderful source of information, data, traditional stories, reflections, memories and history. Although in many cases the parameters can be small, their importance cannot be denied. Not every author can write a serious piece on the nuances of global affairs or the ramifications of economic turmoil. And not every writer’s heart beats with the longing and sentimentality of a romance novelist. We can’t all be adventure writers or cookbook authors. We cannot all come up with clever mystery twists and turns.
But we can all become regional writers. Why? Because we all have stories to tell, no matter how provincial or how far-flung. And these stories, these observations stand the test of time serving an important purpose for the past, present and the future.
Centuries ago familial tales were handed down in oral testimonies from grandparents to grandchildren. Stories of hardships endured and triumphs enjoyed. Of bitter harvests and sharecropping, of transoceanic flight and new beginnings. Of shadowy injustices and illuminating liberations. Of slavery. Of migration. Of life on the dusty prairie as well on the teeming sidewalks of immigrant America.
These stories, eventually written down in small books and disseminated by small presses, have served as some of the most important tools in any writer’s arsenal. Read the legendary works of Herman Melville, Willa Cather, John Steinbeck, Pearl Buck or Mark Twain and it is apparent that at the heart of each of these writers’ opuses lies a work of regional scent. Though disguised as great literary epics and tomes it is still clear to any reader that these authors (and legions more) are simply writing about what they know, where they lived and what they did. Many of the settings of the famous American novels or short stories reflect the simple concept of a regional book masked in the patina of “great literature.”
Story placements as varied as family farms, the sea, a rural Main Street, unpronounceable places abroad, on the river, in the big shouldered cities and more all are the regional backdrop of some of the most familiar works of American writing, from Tara to Cannery Row to “Our Town.”
I am proud to be a regional writer. I have six books currently in stores exploring the width and breadth of my own backyard, Upstate New York. I have written of the great legends of the Hudson Valley, the history of the small towns in the high peaks of the Adirondacks, the whimsy of the tiny museums of the Finger Lakes and the verdigris- covered war memorials which dot the Leatherstocking Region. These books are small, yet timeless. My readers can identify with the stories and tales I have told whether they come from the busy streets of our capital city, Albany or from the bucolic bosom of the Schoharie Valley.
Anybody can be a regional writer to some degree. To paraphrase Grandma Moses, it’s easy. Just pick up a pencil and start writing.