Important omission

Dear Editor: I read with interest Carol Kearns’ story in the Patriot (Feb. 13) on Lorine Parks and her new book of poems, “Persons of Interest.” It was a good story, but one word snagged my eye as I went on reading it. The word was “published.” I wondered, who by? Kearns didn’t mention it.

This is a big deal. Despite the increase in self-publishing through outlets like Amazon, it’s the large commercial houses like Knopf and Farrar, Strauss and Giroux that bring cachet to the writers they publish. They put their teams of editors, designers, marketing and PR people, printers, distributors, and retailers behind their belief that the writer they’re publishing is important and worth the effort in the reader’s reward, which is returned in sales. They target a big market.

Almost all amateur poets have no such luck. They have to publish through chapbooks or vanity presses, often ponying up out-of-pocket to see their work in print. Friends and family and a small circle of readers are usually all they can hope to reach.

I wondered, who was putting out “Persons of Interest”? This was important. It could mean a lot to Parks and Downey and its fledgling arts movement, for which Kearns has been a tireless and effective advocate.

So I checked. “Persons of Interest” is published by Los Nietos Press, which was founded in August of last year with the purpose of bringing out the new works of Southern California poets, writers and playwrights. “Persons of Interest” is its second publication; the first was an anthology of local poets. Both are handsome volumes. But the website had no masthead, no listed names. On further checking, I discovered that Los Nietos Press is put out by Frank and Carol Kearns.

Carol Kearns didn’t tell us that in her story, however, which completely changes the picture: an ostensibly impartial, objectively reported story is in fact an infomercial for Kearns’ own interest.

This was so unnecessary. Los Nietos Press is a great idea and a useful, attractive publication serving a good cause. Lorine Parks story is a great one too, a woman finding a new voice, a voice worth hearing, late in life.

As the recent Brian Williams/NBC saga shows us, disgrace and journalism are a uniquely toxic mix. We trust journalists to tell us the truth. Where else are we going to get it?

If Kearns had said, in effect “As co-publisher, with my husband, of Los Nietos Press, we are proud to announce…” and simply gone on with the story as written, I for one would not have lost respect for her effort and her integrity. But she didn’t and I have.

Lawrence Christon

Downey

 

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Published: Feb. 19, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 45