Thank you

May 20, 2023

I have come to the very difficult decision to close Paper Nautilus. When I suspended manuscript submissions in 2021, I thought it would be enough to alleviate the biggest stressor of running the press. But the remaining administrative tasks still carry the same burden as before; I am unable to keep up, and your writing deserves better. The pandemic and having a child has also changed my priorities. It has been many years since I’ve been able to focus on my own writing, and I’m looking forward to being back on the other side of things: sending my work out, rather than being the one who makes the publication decisions.

Through your support, we have published 6 issues of an annual literary journal, and a catalog of 40 (!) chapbook titles. It has been an honor working with each of my authors, as well as having the opportunity to read literally thousands of manuscripts (never mind individual stories and poems when we were an annual journal). It has also given six interns the chance to work for a small press — at least one of whom has gone on to a career in publishing.

If you have been waiting for your much-delayed book orders, they are coming; I thank you deeply for your patience. If you would still like to order any of our titles, the Books menu will be available until June 1, 2023.

If you are a Paper Nautilus author and this is the first you’ve heard of this news, check your spam folder! And please, please reach out to me with any questions.

Aside from my partnership with my spouse (which wins out by only a small margin), Paper Nautilus has been the longest thing I’ve committed to. The last 12 years have been an incredible joy and honor. Thank you for the chance to do this work.


We are so excited to announce the release of Sarah Nichols’ Press Play for Heartbreak, a Vella Chapbook Co-Winner, and the sixth and final title to be released from our lineup selected from our 2020 contests. The book may be ordered here or under the Books menu, in case you’re looking for some other new reads to pick up.

Sarah Nichols uses the alternative music albums she invokes in Press Play for Heartbreak—by Depeche Mode, The Cure, Joy Division, Radiohead—as a conduit, incantation, exorcism, an archive of obsession. Reading about her experiences with these songs is “like finding a diary after the end of the world…. You can’t say you weren’t warned. This comforts me somehow.” But comforting in the way that the tongue constantly seeks the wound from the pulled tooth. The effect can “make guilt sound like something you’d want,” a mix of pain and pleasure, high and withdrawal, regret and relief. These pieces emphasize the ache, the -algia, of nostalgia for which there is no analgesic except listening to more music, preferably in a dark room.

— Heidi Czerwiec, author of Fluid States

I challenge you to find someone who blends pop culture with craft as seamlessly as Sarah Nichols does. Press Play is the newest example of her brilliance in this subgenre. “I guess I’ve never cared for reality that much,” she writes in “A Life in Nine Songs: Depeche Mode’s Violator.” Who does? And why bother? Living in the glow of music you love is the far better alternative, and Sarah will tell you why with the expertise that comes only from loving something fully and without remorse. 

Kolleen Carney Hoepfner, Editor in Chief of Drunk Monkeys, and author of A Live Thing, Clinging with Many Teeth

We are so excited to announce the release of Christen Noel Kauffman’s Notes to a Mother God, a Debut Series Chapbook Co-Winner, and the fifth of six titles to be released from our lineup selected from our 2020 contests. The book may be ordered here or under the Books menu, in case you’re looking for some other new reads to pick up.

In “Notes to a Mother God,” Christen Noel Kauffman’s brilliant new lyric essay collection, the boundaries between fiction and nonfiction, the human and the animal, sound and love, are revealed as illusory. In this gorgeous act of evaporation, a fresh engagement of motherhood is illuminated, one that miraculously manages to interrogate not boundaries, but exhilarating overlaps: this book dares to examine the spaces shared by the cleaving body and the spider’s web, a whale’s eye and the birth of a daughter, the Luna moth and guilt, the giant squid and empathy, memory and the seabed, death and a dream of an orchard. Throughout, Kauffman’s sumptuous essays do the essential work of exposing the plants and animals that many of us have ignored or mistakenly deemed as merely quotidian, as innately incantatory. And here, that incantation is howled by mothers actual and ghostly, sung, essentially, to quote Kauffman, into “the crevice of your neck.” This is a beautiful and breathtaking debut, as expansive as it is intimate.

— Matthew Gavin Frank, author of Flight of the Diamond Smugglers

Notes to a Mother God gorgeously captures the contradictory moods and modes of new motherhood. In these exquisite pieces, Christen Noel Kauffman helps us understand the familiar and the foreign, the surprise of loneliness and the hunger for intimacy, and the magnetic tides of both desire and despair. Like motherhood itself, Notes to a Mother God is powerful, raw, and often dark, but with a marbled beauty that is as wondrous as it is undeniable. 

Randon Billings Noble, author of Be with Me Always

We are so excited to announce the release of Marc J. Sheehan’s The Civil War War, a Vella Chapbook Co-Winner, and the fourth of six titles to be released from our lineup selected from our 2020 contests. The book may be ordered here or under the Books menu, in case you’re looking for some other new reads to pick up.

What do Rat Fink tattoos, porta-potties, holograms, Jeopardy!, zombies, Chatty Cathy, Lysistrata, replicant angels, and sorrow vendors have in common? They all play a role in Marc Sheehan’s everything-including-the-kitchen-sink absurdist flash fictions about men who re-enact the Civil War in real time (!) and the women who refuse to have sex with them. The chapters are simultaneously whimsical and moving, wry and rueful, laugh-out-loud funny and searingly serious. Sheehan’s humor is dry, yes, but it burns like dry ice. What a marvelous book—and given the uncivil war we’ve been enduring—what a timely one, too.

— David Jauss, author of Glossolalia: New & Selected Stories and <em?Nice People: New & Selected Stories II

Part George Saunders and part Borges but wholly in and of itself his own, Marc Sheehan’s The Civil War War is daring, inventive, startling–and so prescient and prophetic it feels like the vivid soul print of America now in its ragged and torn state but somehow as it has always been. Somehow this small but searing book speaks to the tragic fact that America is still at war with itself even as this brilliant work offers a kind of miraculous healing through the power of art, truth, humor, and compassion. 

Robert Vivian, author of All I Feel Is Rivers: Dervish Essays

We are so excited to announce the release of Ja’net Danielo’s The Song of Our Disappearing, a Debut Series Chapbook Co-Winner, and the third of six titles to be released from our lineup selected from our 2020 contests. The book may be ordered here or under the Books menu, in case you’re looking for some other new reads to pick up.

These are poems of quietly devastating grief, life-haunted poems of absence, breath-taking for their clear, lyrical language, their precise and loving rendering of the physical world, their nuanced explosion of image into image, poems that move beyond elegy toward a deeper imagining. Here, death is a kind of disappearance, yes, but also a mystery, a transformation, “the swarm of cells rearranging themselves/ into something other/ … of never before;” here, each existence, human and otherwise, is “a brief but holy thing.” Reading these poems I was reminded of how, while the shape of our grief changes over time, grief also changes us, alters us permanently, becoming part of who and what we are, deepening us, making us also more holy in its wake.

— Cecilia Woloch, author of Tsigan: The Gypsy Poem

Grief recasts everything, suddenly and sharply. It uproots the ghosts—of our childhoods, our ancestors, our collective and private memories—and transforms the concrete world we thought we knew into one now fluctuating and liminal. The Song of Our Disappearing navigates the bewildering aftermath of a father’s death, finding a clear and rising voice somewhere between the stark hospital room that holds the ventilator’s sharp hiss and the remembered dust of the racetrack where hooves pull clouds from the ground. Elegy becomes an act of metamorphosis as Ja’net Danielo excavates both past and present to reveal a song unearthed from the ash of the heart—a lyric guide for walking with, listening to, and being transformed by the losses that haunt us most. 

Julia Bouwsma, author of Midden and Work by Bloodlight

I can’t helped being knocked out and also deeply inspired by the summoning voice and vision of Ja’net Danielo. The poems in her debut collection The Song of Our Disappearing are breathtaking in their rich and fulsome physicality, their deft shaping of personal, familial, and corporeal landscapes around her, and the pitch-perfect songs that burn brightly through crucial and complex human concerns of death, grief, longing. So much to admire here, and to look forward to in this poet whose generosity of spirit and breadth of imagination match the vibrancy of natural and lived in worlds she observes so carefully, inhabiting desire through poetry that honors “the language of horses […] “those beautiful machines […] Not of blood, but of dust—a song unearthed from the ash of the heart.”

— Michelle Bitting, author of Broken Kingdom


We are so excited to announce the release of Jason B. Crawford’s Twerkable Moments, a Vella Chapbook Co-Winner, and the second of six titles to be released from our lineup selected from our 2020 contests. The book may be ordered here or under the Books menu, in case you’re looking for some other new reads to pick up.

Twerkable Moments is a summertime Michigan house party in the early 2000’s, and a Springtime cookout from just last week. Jason asks “Who among us is not built of a party” while moving from a sweaty dancefloor near the bar to a backyard, reclaiming space and self along the way. Who among us hasn’t tried to learn a dance from someone older and failed? Who among us hasn’t done the dance with all the confidence we could muster, anyway? These poems are a teaching, an invitation to remember and to learn. A celebratory invocation of joy in spite of, joy that survives and traverses, and joy that for damn sho’ twerks.

– Darius Simpson

Twerkable Moments pulsates with rich sounds and searing imagery, transforming the page into a three-dimensional universe that takes all of our senses to navigate. I am enamored with the magic Crawford has woven in these poems, where dancing is not merely dancing, but world building. In these stanzas exist a mythic space without limitations, where dancing boys could be wolves or “glitter could cast a spell and bring all my dead/ loves back to life”. Twerkable Moments does not turn its gaze away from the omnipresent dangers that lurk just beyond the page,“ The hunters/ or their arrows/ or bullets”. Rather, it celebrates the body’s survival despite. At the center of these poems lies the question: “What joy have you brought for us to/ feed on?”. I leave this collection well fed and breathless.

– Jihyun Yun, author of Some Are Always Hungry

In their collection Twerkable Moments, Jason B. Crawford populates these pages with beats and bodies, music lyrics that take over us before we realize we’re even singing along. To read these poems is to wade through a night club where the music works like a hex, where in the midst of the dancing crowd our speaker gropes for love and acceptance. And the dancefloor serves as a perfect metaphor for the Black and queer body trying to survive in these poems; surrounded by chaos, violence, and cultural appropriation, the speaker of this collection gives in to the corporeal joy of dance. But dance is not only about joy or survival, it’s also about reclamation. Crawford writes, “This is mine / and I will take it back / one        ass     cheek / at a time,” fashioning the Black, queer, and dancing body into a weapon. And whatever is slain in their wake, Crawford reminds us to always look back at it.

Taylor Byas, author of Blood Warm


We are so excited to announce the release of Juliana Chang’s Inheritance, a Vella Chapbook Co-Winner, and the first of six titles to be released from our lineup selected from our 2020 contests. The book may be ordered here or under the Books menu, in case you’re looking for some other new reads to pick up.

Juliana Chang’s Inheritance tells a deeply moving tale of immigration, love, and family, in poems taut with a longing that spans oceans, and decades, and generations. “Dear god,” Chang’s speaker pleads at one point, “give us a new story,” and in these poems, lucky for us, she has written exactly that. This is a soulful, serious debut.

           —Patrick Phillips, author of Elegy for a Broken Machine

This admirable debut volume of poems speaks to the many complex legacies of the immigrant psyche: those of language, of longing, of unspoken traumas and unlikely joys. These vivid tableaus, ranging from girlhood to womanhood, reveal a young writer of great empathy and discernment, and invite us to join in the redemptive act of wonderment. 

 —Chang-rae Lee, author of Native Speaker

We have another two titles that are most of the way through production, so keep an eye out for more books coming soon!

Our plans for 2021

February 1, 2021

2020 was a long year, and we’re still trying to catch up. There have been ongoing backlogs for virtually every part of the publishing process (reading manuscripts, coordinating with new authors, completing pre-press layout, print vendor turnaround, order fulfillment…). We had four wonderful interns last year, and two interns the year before; this year, because of COVID, we have none. And while this note uses “we” a lot, PN is just one person — and I have had a number of changes in my professional and personal life in the last year that have changed what I am able to juggle.

We regret that will we not be taking manuscripts this cycle for all of these reasons. We have six amazing titles coming out over the course of 2021, and we are still very much an active press! But, given the above, it seemed irresponsible to reopen and likely receive 400+ submissions, commit to reading each one carefully (often more than once), and usher 4-6 new titles through production. The folks who send us work often don’t find out if their manuscript has been selected until almost November — and if they submitted in January, that is a long time to wait. One of our recent titles took nearly a year and half from the time we accepted it to when it was released. I am not OK with any of that — and those are the outcomes with interns.

I take a lot of pride and put a lot of care into these books, because writers deserve that. We’ve been going strong for ten years, continue to get more manuscripts each year, and have greatly increased the number of titles we publish. By the end of the year, we’ll have published 40 titles. However, we’re getting to a point where that growth is unsustainable. And I don’t want to just keep pressing on to see what the breaking point is. I am hopeful that, by having this time to properly care for the six titles we’re publishing this year and giving them a timely release, it will give us a chance to clear off the to-do list and start fresh in 2022 with a more manageable, scaled-back operation. Thank you for your understanding, and I look forward to sharing our next new title with you soon!

We are so excited to announce the release of Sonya Vatomsky’s And The Whale, a Vella Chapbook Co-Winner, and the sixth and final book to be released from our lineup selected from our 2019 contests. The book may be ordered here or under the Books menu, in case you’re looking for some other new reads to pick up.

This collection received the following praise:

“A lyrical, haunted shipwreck of a book you won’t soon forget.”

— amanda lovelace, bestselling author of the princess saves herself in this one

 “Vatomsky is a poet with history, which is to say a poet with a Russian soul that never rests. Here, the soul is haunted and haunting, is pouring tea into your cup until the whole thing spills over and burns. The soul in these poems isn’t interested in pain but the shadow of pain, the mark of it; the edges of a burn and the dregs of tea leaves, what each one confirms about time. If it’s true that what’s hysterical is historical, then what Vatomsky offers us is a universe where madness is fleshed out and relieved of flesh. Here, the body is a palimpsest and gender is a veil, the kind you wear in mourning, the kind that hangs between this life and everything else.”

— Gala Mukomolova, author of Without Protection

We are looking forward to turning to our attention to our 2020 manuscripts. As we all (globally) wrap up an exhausting, painful, almost-impossible year, I am wishing for you that these last few weeks of it are kind and restful and healthy. See you in 2021.

After lots and lots of reading and deliberation, we are overjoyed to announce this year’s winners!

Juliana Chang.: Inheritance
Jason B. Crawford: Twerkable Moments
Sarah Nichols:
Press Play for Heartbreak
Marc Sheehan: The Civil War War

Additionally, we name 10% of our authors finalists. This year, out of over 210 entries, these are the 21 manuscripts we chose:

Khadija Anderson: Not My Hijab
Lisa Beans: And Just Like That
Gina Marie Bernard: Dauntless
Meriweather Clarke: Extended Voicemail to a Senator
Sarah Eddy: Ativan Poems
Ashley Evans: black has every right to be angry
Tyler Friend: ? Future ?
John Jodzio: Cornhole or Bags
Alexander Joseph: breakfast & dinner
Anna Leahy: What Happened Was:
Lisa Lopez Smith: Revel ations
Freesia McKee: We Finally Managed to Shut Down the Shining of the Moon: Letters to June Jordan
Charlene Moskal: Leavings from my Table
Sujash Purna: Epidemic of Nostalgia
Kevin Risner: Do Us a Favor
Esteban Rodriguez: Herencia
Christopher Rubio-Goldsmith: Curfew Dogs
Tina Schumann: Epistolarium. Letters to the Usual Suspects
Lanie Stabile: Armed with a Lampshade
Scott Wilson: The Competitive Cyclists Guide to Mycology
Iona Winter: Earth Bones

Thank you to every single person who took the leap to send us their work. (And extra thanks to those who have been waiting to hear these results since submitting their work back in January!)

We have one final title from 2019 we’re working to wrap up, as well as getting all the contest entry book orders shipped out! We hope everyone is healthy and well.

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