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NPR Recognizes ‘Malaria, Poems’ from MSU Press

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The Michigan State University Press publishes impressive books throughout the year and their impact is growing. The book Malaria, Poems was recently added to the NPR must-read list for 2014. MSU Press senior acquisitions editor, Alex Schwatz said, “This is an important volume. Cameron’s work is beautiful and also educates the reader about Malaria and its implications. “It was an absolute pleasure to work with Cameron on this project. His genuine passion for this cause was evident in his poetry and we really wanted his work to be shared with the public.” Malaria, Poems added to the success of 2014 with 17 books published by MSU Press receiving prestigious scholarly and industry awards – a record setting year.

The Michigan State University Press is an academic book publisher — one of only 130 such publishers in the United States. University publishers acquire, MalariaPoemsCoverdevelop, design, produce and market books and journals, but they differ from commercial publishers because of their role in academia. As an extension of its parent institution, a university press is a key player in the dissemination of scholarship in a broader network; research libraries and general-interest libraries, learned societies and professional associations. And while publishing high-end scholarship is the main mission of university presses, most also publish books of literature or general interest such as narrative local or regional history, poetry, or fiction translated from other languages.

Rigorous peer review by experts in the field is central to the role of a university press. The process ensures that manuscripts proposed for publication are based on solid research, take recent scholarship into account, and make a significant scholarly contribution to their field. Often, several rounds of review of a promising manuscript may lead to significant revisions, all with the end goal of producing an excellent final product. It is a long and involved process, which very few commercial presses would undertake, but one that is fundamental to the mission of academic publishing.

Cameron Conaway, a writer in residence at Penn State, is the Executive Editor at GoodMenProject.com and an award-winning poet. He is also a former mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter and offers Malaria, Poems as his response poet Allen Ginsberg’s call for “bare knuckles warrior poetics” or poetry of social consciousness. He was thrilled to work with MSU Press. “MSU Press impressed me at every stage of the publication process,” stated Conaway. “Their responses to my questions were prompt and helpful, their suggested edits were brilliant, and their tireless work to research and fact-check my own research is, in large part, why Malaria, Poems has been so well received by scientists as well as poets. They truly are a world class team.”

“We have begun to focus increasingly on what we are calling ‘engaged poetry’ – poetry that addresses larger social issues,” stated MSU Press director Gabriel Dotto. “In March, for instance, we will issue Requiem, Rwanda by MSU faculty author Laura Apol, a reflection of her participation in writing-for-healing workshops for young survivors of the 1994 genocide, with poems by Apol that explore her role as a ‘writer as witness’.”

MSU Press, a member of The Association of American University Presses, has been publishing books and journals that span a wide variety of academic disciplines for almost 70 years. Both the MSU Press Books and Journals Divisions participate in the Green Press Initiative and are committed to developing and encouraging ecologically responsible publishing practices. In addition, most MSUP books and all of its journals are available in electronic format and through major aggregators such as MUSE and JSTOR. As the “scholarly publishing arm” of its parent institution, MSU Press also engages significantly with scholars at MSU. While its catalog reflects the work of international scholarship, a large percentage of MSUP publications reflect work from scholars at MSU. Six of MSUP’s ten scholarly journals have MSU faculty as general editors, and several of its recently launched new series (such as The Animal Turn, Transformations in Higher Education, Latinos in the United States, Studies in Violence, Mimesis and Culture, African Humanities and the Arts, and American Food in History) are directed by scholars at MSU.

— Melanie Kauffman, Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies

— Book cover images provided by MSU Press

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