Poetry readers will recognize the names of New Directions Publishing in New York, Copper Canyon Press in Washington and City Lights Books in California — all long-standing small publishers that have had a huge impact on contemporary poetry.
Now they have a counterpart growing steadily in Vermont: Harbor Mountain Press, based 100 miles inland in the river valley town of White River Junction. Despite the geographic anomaly of its name, Harbor Mountain — directed by Peter Money, a 49-year-old poet, teacher and Brownsville resident — has persisted with the stability of a mountain, unaffected by the shifting sands of the publishing industry. Over the past seven years, Harbor Mountain has published a full shelf’s worth of books, almost exclusively poetry, by award-winning writers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Money, himself an author of numerous published poetry collections, founded Harbor Mountain as a nonprofit in 2006 following the success of his literary magazine, Across Borders. He launched Harbor Mountain Press with an ambition to publish six poetry titles a year, each bearing a sumi-e brushed logo fusing two solacing landscapes inspired by Provincetown Harbor and Mt. Ascutney. Funded by individuals and foundations, including the Vermont Community Foundation, the Morel Family Fund, the Walker Foundation and the Byrne Foundation, the tiny nonprofit with a three-member board has since spawned nearly two dozen titles.
They include works by poets from the Green and White Mountain states, such as Laura Davies Foley, Alice B. Fogel and Robert Nichols; as well those across the ocean, such as Mario Susko, Giuseppe Ungaretti and Ana Merino. Harbor Mountain’s 21st title, released this March, is A Cage Within, by Cuban poet Wendy Guerra, translated by Dartmouth professor Elizabeth Polli.
Last December, Money received Associated Press coverage for a translation project of his own: He helped render renowned Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef’s Arabic in English for Graywolf Press.
Although his own press’ initial six-books-per-year momentum has waned, Money’s commitment to each book has not. Each of the handsome volumes continues to bring, as Money puts it, “a little bit of intensity” into the world. And, though Harbor Mountain has recently waded into prose with its first intergenerational picture book, Jay Mead’s A Little Farm Story, Money’s terra firma remains verse. “Old as it is, it’s the form that continues to be missing … these books go out as ambassadors for what wasn’t said enough before,” he says.
Harbor Mountain Press books are available at harbormountainpress.org, as well as through the Norwich Bookstore in Norwich, Vt.; Shiretown Books and Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock, Vt.; and Left Bank Books in Hanover, N.H.