“San Diego City Works Press” Celebrates Its 10-Year Anniversary!

by on April 25, 2014 · 0 comments

in Civil Rights

10-Year Anniversary Celebration and Fundraiser for City Works Press
Saturday, April 26th, 5-7 pm

For more information contact Kelly Mayhew at cityworkspress@earthlink.net
City_Works_Press_with_borderTen years ago, Jim Miller and Kelly Mayhew co-founded City Works Press, a nonprofit publisher that they edit in concert with the San Diego Writers Collective. Both Jim and Kelly are well known to the San Diego Free Press community.

Jim has written a weekly article for his Under the Perfect Sun column since we launched the site in 2012 and prior to that he submitted articles to the OB Rag, our sister publication. Kelly wrote a series of articles about Golden Hill restaurants when SDFP provided a neighborhood focus on that community.

Throughout the years this couple has hosted myriad events that benefit progressive organizations in San Diego. This Saturday, April 26, they will be hosting a celebration and fundraiser for City Works Press, the only press of its kind in San Diego.

What the press has accomplished over the past ten years and how they have done it are both noteworthy. City Works Press has produced twenty publications in the past nine years. These publications are the work of students, celebrated scribes, and unsung locals all for the love of the thing itself with the goal of creating a noncommercial cooperative space for local writers and poets.

City Works Press promotes the work of all sorts of San Diego artists, with an emphasis on local, ethnic and border writing as well as formal innovation and progressive politics. It is creating a literary culture in San Diego, where there is no other press dedicated to the publication of local writing. They have published everything from collections of poetry by Jimmy Santiago Baca and Steve Kowit to innovative, multi-genre anthologies focusing on politics, food, parenting and lavanderías.

Twenty years ago–in 1994– San Diego City College was publishing the literary journal City Works. The journal included fiction, prose and artwork of City College students as well as work by local and national writers. After ten years of putting out City Works, some of the journal’s editors decided it was time for San Diego to have its own literary press. This was a big deal– the editors felt that one of the largest cities in the United States could support a small press.

City Works Press describes their decision at the time:

Untainted by the narrow bottom line ethos of corporate publishing, and the frequently exclusionary world of academic presses, our goal is to publish the finest work by local writers. With no institutional funding from City College, we did it ourselves. In 2003 we formed the San Diego Writers Collective, a group of City College faculty and writers and arts supporters from all around San Diego. We opened a non-profit account at the San Diego City College Foundation and began raising funds and planning for the future.

Doing it by themselves meant doing it as a collective effort. This is an important point. Operating as a collective means that they are an all-volunteer effort, sustained entirely through the support of faculty, staff, community members and book sales and not from funding from the college or the district. As a collective, they all contribute part of the funds and labor that go into each publication and the money made from the sales toward the publication of subsequent books.

Co-founder Kelly Mayhew articulates her vision for the next decade:

Our mission is to publish literary books–fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction–that might not otherwise be published. And we’re devoted as well to producing really beautiful books–they feel good to read, the paper is creamy and thick, and the covers are incredible. We have an amazing design team with Will Dalrymple as our Production Editor and Rondi Vasquez as our Book Designer (I’m the managing editor) who work with authors to realize the vision they have of their books. So I’m pretty proud of what we do.

Books that feel good to read. Books that are worth reading. We don’t have to imagine this– we can hold these works in our hands and we can support this endeavor so that it continues into the next decade. If you can’t make the celebration, you can mail your check, made out to SDCC Foundation/City Works Press to: City Works Press, San Diego City College, 1313 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101. All donations are tax deductible.

The OB Rag congratulates City Works Press for their unique presence in San Diego. We hope that someone in the OB Rag, San Diego Free Press and City Works communities will write book reviews of everything that City Works Press has published–and more. Because one good book always leads to another.


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