About Us / Who we are and What we do...


Mission statement: To publish and promote exceptional collections of contemporary poetry.

Founding Editors: Jen Lambert and Liz Kay

Associate Editor: Torrey Smith

Manuscript Reviewers: We are incredibly grateful for the dedication and insight of our reviewers, past and present. They include Sara Henning, Molly Sutton Kiefer, M.E. Silverman, Christine Stewart-Nunez, Marta Ferguson, Stefanie Wortman, T.M. De Vos, and Andy Fogle

Editorial Board: Final publishing decisions are made under the advisement of a trio of poets we deeply admire, Shannan Ballam, Gary Dop, and Sarah McKinstry-Brown.

The origins of Spark Wheel Press: In 2011, we founded the journal burntdistrict. We were stunned by the quality of the work we were given the opportunity to read. We quickly realized that there is far more strong, innovative, engaging work being written than is ultimately reaching the published page. While this is certainly true at the journal level (we, for example, could accept less than 5% of what we were sent), it is an even more pressing problem for full length collections.

As poets, we are concerned about the industry-wide shift toward contest-based publications. We disagree with a model in which the costs of publishing the winner’s book are born by the hundreds of “losers.” Poets have become so used to paying these contest fees that even open submissions have begun to charge entry. Simply the discouragement of rejection is enough to lead many writers to ultimately shelve a manuscript, let alone when this discouragement is coupled with financial exhaustion.

We recognize that the economics of publishing is a challenge for small press publishers, and we have great admiration for many independent presses and recognize that they are simply struggling to keep the doors open and the books in print. At the same time, changing technologies offer the opportunity to produce high quality books with less initial investment, and this is the route we are choosing to pursue.

What you should know about the editors: We are poets ourselves, actively publishing work in such journals as Beloit Poetry Journal, Nimrod, Los Angeles Review, Willow Springs, Raleigh Review, The New York Quarterly, and Two Review.

What you should know about the press: Our vision for SWP is to promote exceptional volumes of contemporary poetry. We market each title through traditional and new media. We send out press releases and review copies and offer support in setting up book tours. Still, the reality is that most of the work of selling the books will be done by the poets themselves.  Because of this, our publishing decisions will be made on the quality of the work, and also by our assessment of the poet’s professionalism and potential as a business partner.

What we pay: We are unable to pay advances at this time. Authors will earn a 10% royalty on sales. Authors will receive 25 copies of their book free of charge. Authors may also purchase copies at a 50% discount. These copies are not eligible for royalty payment.


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We are delighted to announce that as of July 1st, 2015, Spark Wheel Press has become a part of the Nebraska Writers Collective, a vibrant nonprofit that supports creative writing and performance poetry across the Midwest. Our editorial mission and aesthetic vision remain unchanged, but our ability to achieve this mission has expanded tremendously with the support of the NWC. Please consider showing your support for the great work NWC is doing by making a tax-deductible donation.