Poet-in-residence, Etruscan Press founder Philip Brady to talk publishing industry in virtual Brown Bag



Writers spend a great deal of time crafting their stories with the end goal of it being a published work, but they might not think about what the act of publishing their work might take. That’s where Philip Brady, Week Five’s poet-in-residence, comes in. 

Brady is the author of five poetry books, a memoir and two essay collections. He is also the founder and executive director of Etruscan Press. Working both as a writer and a publisher has given him a unique perspective on the process that he will be sharing in a Brown Bag lecture titled “The Book I Almost Wrote” at 12:15 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 28 on the CHQ Assembly Virtual Porch for the Chautauqua Writers’ Center. 

The title for the Brown Bag comes from an essay of the same name that was published in his book, Phantom Signs: The Muse in Universe City. According to Brady, the essay focuses on the interplay between that “which is not yet complete” and the published piece. 

“We think of publication as being, ‘OK, I started, I wrote the poem, then I sent it out and it was rejected a few times and then it was accepted,’ and that’s the end of it,” Brady said. “What I’m hoping is that each one of those stages is going to offer, to the writer, new eyes into their own poem.”

He hopes to teach aspiring authors the value in the publishing process and having another set of eyes on their work. He thinks that writers need to use those opportunities as means of re-envisioning the poem — not just revising it, but seeing it again, this time with new eyes. 

Brady thinks of publishing as a kind of fire drill. He sees a work in its various stages of becoming permanent and the long “taffy-like” separation from what inspired the piece to how it appears in its final, public form. 

“Publication is, to me, just an amplification of that process of creative participation that to some extent erases — or at least minimizes — the idea of separate individual authorship,” Brady said. 

Even though he works for Etruscan Press, Brady says that he doesn’t know much about overall trends in the poetry world. He compares it to having his hand over his eyes and one finger dipped into the river of works that are being produced and sent out. He is able to feel the suggestion of a pattern until he comes across one that seems to “vibrate.”

“Suddenly you’re rebaptised into the realization that great art … opens the doors of perception,” Brady said. 

This is not the first, or even third time that Brady has been a writer-in-residence at the Institution. He stated that he is “very much looking forward to meeting the students” because of how generative his time at Chautauqua usually is. He has even received books that were conceived on the grounds from people that he has met here. 

One of Brady’s own teachers, Jerome Rothenberg, once said: “I write those poems, which I have not found elsewhere and for whose existence I feel a deep need for.” Brady hopes that he can cultivate “creative participation” in every part of an author’s life, not just in their writing. 

“(In poems), you find in them other versions of yourself  and you treat them with that kind of reverence and excitement that you bring to the composition of your own poems,” he said.

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Sarah Vest

The author Sarah Vest