Ten years ago this spring, Moon Tide Press released its first book. Lee Mallory, Ricki Mandeville and I had conceived of the press in late 2005 to help provide an audience for local poets, and for our first collection, we opted for an Orange County institution: Michael Ubaldini, a singer, songwriter, poet and film historian. (Well, how many rock lyricists can seamlessly weave Rita Hayworth, Clara Bow and Jean Harlow into a single song?) Ubaldini’s Lost American Nights: Lyrics & Poems launched at the Gypsy Den Café in downtown Santa Ana, and the evening was a win all around: Moon Tide Press officially launched, Ubaldini became a first-time author, and a new generation of Guitar Hero-worshipping kids learned who Rita Hayworth was.
In the eight years that followed, Moon Tide continued to grow—thanks, in no small part, to our partners in the community. Zoot Velasco, the CEO of the Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton, invited us to do a regular poetry-and-music series. Dozens of people signed on as patrons, ensuring a solid readership for new titles. And, most importantly, the manuscripts kept on coming. After Lost American Nights, Moon Tide went on to publish four multi-author anthologies as well as solo collections by Lee, Ricki, Mindy Nettifee, Ben Trigg, Kate Buckley, Carine Topal, J.D. Salinger, Eric Morago, Gail Newman, Michael Kramer, Susan Davis, Peggy Dobreer, Irena Praitis, Sharon Venezio, Timothy Matthew Perez, John Brantingham, Ruth Bavetta and Robbi Nester. (OK, no, we didn’t really publish a book by J.D. Salinger. But since it’s common instinct for a reader to skim through a sentence like that one, I wanted to make sure you were paying attention.)
As the saying goes, though, to everything there is a season, and after Robbi’s A Likely Story came out in summer 2014, Moon Tide went on hiatus. The reasons for that were simple and unremarkable: I had started a teaching credential program and couldn’t devote the time to publishing that I once did. This summer, however, the original Moon Tide Press is back for a last hurrah—with the publication of my own third book of poems, Angels in Seven, which will launch Sunday, June 5 at the dA Center for the Arts in Pomona.
In my second book, The First Thing Mastered, I tracked the formative years of life from infancy to the early 30s. The new book, which is a spiritual sequel of sorts, centers on the age of 35—the changes, hopes, fears and renewals that come with the dawn of middle age. I have long admired artists, such as Richard Linklater and Bruce Springsteen, who build their work around the subject of the phases of life. By the time I finish my next book, I will have more life experience and wisdom to draw from, and that will inevitably inspire poems that I didn’t previously think I had in me. I write, in short, to surprise myself, as all writers must.
Angels in Seven will be the last book released under Moon Tide Press in its original form. For subsequent titles, the press will be known as Moontide Press—and it will have a new, larger team behind it. Susan Davis, whose I Was Building Up to Something came out in 2011, will step in as editor-in-chief, while I will stay on as consulting editor and help with marketing and outreach. Susan, who coordinates undergraduate creative writing at UC Irvine, has created a new staff of current and former undergraduate and graduate students to take Moontide into its next phase. Be on the lookout for the updated website, and more, in the coming months.
For now, thanks to all the many people who helped make Moon Tide a thriving press for eight years. We, and the poets, owe you a debt of gratitude.
This is the blog of Michael Miller, a longtime journalist, poet, publisher and teacher. Check here for musings, observations, commentary and assorted bits of gratitude.