Alice James Poetry Cooperative awarded grant

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FARMINGTON — A $25,000 federal grant will help Alice James Poetry Cooperative publish, promote and distribute six books during 2015.

A total of $190,000 from the National Endowment of the Arts has been awarded to eight organizations in Maine that foster artistic creativity and innovation in their communities, according to an announcement Tuesday by U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King.

The local, small press was one of the winners.

“We’re honored and value every supporter, donation and grant,” Alyssa Neptune, managing editor, said Tuesday. “This will help our small press more on a national level.”

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Located in a former private home next to Rollo Pond on the campus of the University of Maine at Farmington, the cooperative employs four people and appreciates the efforts of about four interns from UMF, she said.

Despite its small surroundings, the organization is pretty well known in the poetry world, she said. “Most people would be surprised how small we are.”

The cooperative advertises its work to poets and writers from all over the country. A national contest is held with their editorial board deciding which books will be published, she said.

Alice James Books is a nonprofit poetry press founded in 1973, according to its website. The press moved from Harvard Square in 1994 when it became affiliated with UMF.

The original mission was to publish and support female poets.

“We’re going back to our roots,” Neptune said. The mission changed over the years to involve poets and writers more in the publication process, she said.

The grant application was completed by Carey Salerno, executive director, with help from the entire staff, she said. It is an involved process, requiring a large compilation of numbers and documents.

The grant for Alice James Poetry Cooperative Inc. was one of 1,118 awarded from 3,455 applications. Maine’s $190,000 share is part of $29 million awarded by NEA to support arts projects nationwide.

Other Maine recipients included Portland Stage Company, $10,000; Maine Film Center, $10,000; Camden International Film Festival, $20,000; Bangor Folk Festival, $20,000; President and Trustees of Bates College, two separate awards of $30,000 each; Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Inc., $35,000; and Maine Fiberarts, $10,000.

The National Endowment for the Arts was created by Congress in 1965. NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to organizations and individuals supporting the arts in their communities, according to the senators’ news release.

abryant@sunjournal.com

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