Sunday, July 14, 2024

Searching for Unexpected Weather Events, or News from The Kingdom of Books this past Spring

Should you wonder why Unexpected Weather Events is no longer listed on Amazon (or suggests an unknown wait-time), or should you wonder why your bookstore doesn't sell it and may not offer ordering it for you, here is the short version. The distributor suddenly closed its doors, which upended hundreds of small presses, affecting all of their titles, and the writers who publish with them.

Should you want a longer version, complete with a glossary tailored for this tale, please continue.


Publisher - The person/people/group/business that accepts a writer's book and guides it from its manuscript form to its final book form that can be borrowed or bought from libraries and bookstores. 

Distributor - The entity that helps move copies of the book from the publisher to bookstores. The go-between. Something like a travel agent.

Bookstores - Places where we can buy books. Places that prefer to purchase books through distributors because they can return copies that they don't sell. Also, it streamlines purchasing, as they can order titles from multiple presses through a distributor, instead of having to write contracts with each publisher, besides reordering, returning, payment, etc.

As the writer, I do not dip my toe into the relationships among publishers, distributors, and bookstores. So know that the following account is my trying to best to sort a likely more complex situation.


Once upon a time in the Kingdom of Books, there were distributors who functioned like couriers, moving the books from the publishers in the forest to the bookstores in the cities. For many, many years the Kingdom of Books functioned this way. A writer hunched over a table, scribbling or typing long or short stories, and when the writer was done, they wrapped the manuscript in brown paper and sent it by a herd of doves to a publisher. Should the first publisher accept the manuscript, the doves would return to the writer and live happily the rest of their days. Should the first publisher reject the manuscript, the doves would be re-harnessed with the heavy block of pages and fly it to the next publisher. This would go on until either the doves found a publisher, the doves returned to the writer half-starved and missing many feathers, or the writer cursed the Gods of Publishing and never sent the doves out again.

Meanwhile, the Publishers in the Forest daily received herd and herds of doves from around the kingdom. Every day more doves came. Donkeys, too. Giraffes, dogs, passels of ladybugs--all carrying manuscripts from hunched writers around the kingdom. 

Over the course of the year, the Publishers in the Forest, sent many animals back to their writers with good news or bad news. Good news being that the manuscript was accepted and the publisher would transform it into a beautiful book that hundreds of scribes would copy into thousands of copies that would finally be distributed around the kingdom for citizens to read. 

For many years, the Kingdom of Books functioned happily like this. In the Kingdom of Books there existed, in a nearly parallel reality, another forest, the Small Forest of Publishers. The Small Forest of Publishers was a lovely place, full of exotic birds and waterfalls that fell without gravity, sometimes up instead of down. The flowers drank tea and the clouds wove rain, and many writers stumbled out of Publishers of the Forest into this forest and immediately knew this is where they should send their manuscripts. Once established, The Small Forest of Publishers let it be known that they enjoyed reading manuscripts by unknown writers or writers with manuscripts that might puzzle, surprise, or speak in special ways that not all citizens in the kingdom would like to read, think to read, or even find in order to read--much less purchase.  

After the scribes made all the copies of the books, they sent them to The Couriers Operating on the Big River. Now, it should be known that The Couriers Operating on the Big River had several important jobs. For one, to take the books from Publishers of the Forest and send those books to the kingdom's bookstores. Because The Kingdom of Books loved readers, and more deeply, readers who bought books, if the bookstore did not sell all the copies of a book, it could send it BACK to The Couriers on the Big River. Sometimes those books would then be destroyed, left to rot in a warehouse, or perhaps returned to the Publishers of the Forest, although the Publishers were not in the habit of saving books or housing them—that was simply not part of their job, in the same way that a university does not let alumni come back to live in the dorms in the event that they do not find a job.

In the parallel reality of the Small Forest of Publishers, many of the publishers tried to be everything—like the housewife of yore who birthed, raised, clothed, disciplined, and educated her children all by herself. The Small Forest of Publishers figured out how to read manuscripts, and then of the few they could afford to accept, they then prepared, scribed, and couried all by themselves; they also housed the books and sold some from their back porch.

Often, because a person who ran a press/publishing house in the Small Forest of Publishers had to do all of the jobs, they could only produce one to three books every 365 days. In producing so few titles, the publishers in the Small Forest rarely saw profit and would raise a glass to toast on years they broke. Many arts groups and literary clubs would help support these publishers when they could, since every day could be the day the publisher closed down—from fatigue, sorrow, or bankruptcy of soul or bank account.

According to those who know, one day there came to the Small Forest of Publishers a stranger. That stranger had lived, likely, in the Forest of Publishers and knew how it worked. But the stranger, finding the Small Forest of Publishers and seeing how fatigued they were, knew there was a better way. The stranger sat in the tavern and told the publishers about couriers. The publishers rolled their eyes. Of course they knew about couriers. They also knew about the cost of working with couriers, for there existed only The Couriers on the Big River. Guess how much of a cut they want from sending the books to the bookstores? The stranger was shocked and said let me go talk to them. And so the stranger journeyed many days to the Couriers on the Big River. The stranger sat in a tavern by the Big River and told the couriers about the Small Forest of Publishers. The couriers laughed and said that they knew about the Small Forest and said it was hardly worth their time to transport only a few boxes of titles each year, and those boxes were often returned from bookstores full or so nearly that it might as well be full. Which is why, the couriers pointed out, they had to charge by the amount of inventory they moved.

The stranger saw the problem.

The stranger then went to the city and sat in the tavern where the booksellers came. The stranger told the booksellers about the Small Forest of Publishers. About the exotic birds and upside-down waterfalls there. The booksellers nodded and smiled half-heartedly. We would sell those books, but our customers are not used to those kind. We could not order as many in order to avoid sending back so many. We only have so many bookshelves, you see. And we only have so many customers, you see.

The stranger saw.

The stranger met other strangers and explained the dilemma of the Small Forest of Publishers and the strangers decided to rent a few sheds in the city and set up an office. This became called Small Press Distribution. They bought an old boat and rented a dock on the Big River. The Small Forest of Publishers signed on the dotted line and began sending their books to Small Press Distribution (SPD). In turn, SPD sent the books to bookstores in small batches, and became the go-between of many, many presses that produced a few books each year.

And it was good for many years. Not fantastic. But it worked. The publishers in the small forest no longer had to do the job of courier, which allowed them to spend their time more in the production side of the manuscripts, which they enjoyed more since they were more like avid readers than businesspeople. The bookstores were happy because their bookshelves became more diverse and they didn’t have to send a thousand doves back and forth to the Small Forest of Publishers about contracts or books that didn’t sell or needing more books, and so on.

Then, one day, the Small Forest of Publishers stopped receiving messages from Small Press Distribution. Or when they did receive a message, the reply came months later. In the kingdom, bookstores would order books from Small Press Distribution and receive half the number they’d requested. Or none. The writers in the kingdom started hearing from readers that they could not find their books anywhere—or had ordered a copy but the order had never been filled.

The tavern in the Small Forest of Publishers became a small place of confused publishers. They exchanged stories and found that they were all experiencing the same frustrations with Small Press Distribution.

Unbeknownst to anyone, a cold ghost had settled in the sheds and dock and boat of Small Press Distribution. A ghost that ate books and strangers. The strangers working there tried to fight the ghost, telling no one about the ghost or the fighting. And then one day, when the strangers came to work, the ghost had eaten everything. There was not even a front door. And so they posted a message, hung by used fishing line from a tall tree, announcing that they were closed. That a ghost had eaten the books and that maybe the ghost had regurgitated them into different sheds around the kingdom. They could not be sure. But it was over. The publishers would have to search the kingdom far and wide for the books. The bookstores would have to search for the publishers of the titles.

And so, that is why Amazon no longer carries the books from the Small Forest of Publishers.

That is why well-known bookstores never carried, or now do not carry, books from the Small Forest of Publishers. 

The Small Forest of Publishers are trying to find their books while simultaneously picking up their jobs as couriers again. They continue selling books from their back porches, but it is as much up to the readers in the kingdom to journey to those back porches. Without directions, a guide, donkey, or dove.

 The press that publishes my books Hezada! I Miss You and Unexpected Weather Events, as well as titles by many other writers, is located here:

 It’s a lovely back porch and I encourage you to start your journey.    


Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (July 14, 2024)



  • Rumination by Phoebe Giannisi, tr. Brian Sweden (from Poetry, 224:4 July/August 2024)
  • Failing and Flying by Jack Gilbert (from Collected Poems)


๐Ÿ Š Catch the live show Sunday mornings at some time-ish: 

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (June 2, 2024)


  • The Noisiness of Sleep by Ada Limรณn (from her book Bright Dead Things)
  • Poem with a Missing Pilot by C.D. Wright (from her book Shallcross)
  • Making Church Glass Ours by Tina Mozelle Braziel (from her book Glass Cabin, cowritten with James Braziel)


๐Ÿ Š Catch the live show Sunday mornings at some time-ish: 

Sunday, April 28, 2024

In April, I lived inside T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland. Some reflection.

Last night, I participated in a reading of Eliot's iconic poem, The Wasteland. In preparation, I've spent the past month listening to recitations of the poem on Audible, various podcast episodes, and YouTube videos. There is, of course, the required listening to T.S. Eliot himself read it--even if his auditory imagination is a stack above his auditory performance. There are fan readings by strangers among us that are enjoyable in their own right, especially since these are often recited in the first, neutral and plodding tones we ourselves may have silently read onto the poem upon finding it. 

In college, when I was assigned to read The Wasteland (with a gentle suggestion that we should read it first without the footnotes), I came to class ready to discuss it and found that my professor Trena Evans had wheeled in a TV and a black and white recording of people reading it. And what a smart move! Listening to the actors suddenly settled the poem into its hills, valleys, tavern conversation, birdsong, and distant gramophone music--and I was dazzled. Dazzled. That I was living in downtown Chicago, away from rural life for the first time in my life, must have made The Wasteland a poem peculiarly right for helping me understand this place and life where I now found myself.

And now, over twenty years since I first carried The Wasteland around in my head and on the far edge of the country, I've spent many running miles this month listening to it again, and other solo moments reading it. And how wonderful! How necessary! To have Eliot's words actively moving in my brain, changing the colored lens I see life through. As I ran the Bitterroot Runoff up 3,000 ft of increasing elevation, Eliot said to me "In the mountains there you feel free", and I thought, I do not feel free; I feel tired. So Eliot and I had a bit of a joke there. When my preschoolers and I were walking through the park and had to turn around, I saw our shadows and Eliot said, You see how it rises to meet you. And I thought, Yes, there it is! Then I said, Look at our shadows! to the child whose hand held mine.

All of this is to say that living inside a poem, a great poem, is a wonderful, meaningful experience that I have missed. Rolling it around as it rolls me around as a marble in wind. Of course I recommend it. And if you begin searching for the voices of those who call the poem into what it can become, then I absolutely recommend this dynamic, stellar, and deeply considered performance of The Wasteland by Fiona Shaw: 


Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (April 28, 2024)



  • Gravity
  • Chemise by Kay Ryan (from her book Say Uncle)
  • Slowness by Polly Buckingham (from her book River People)
  • portrait of the rain by Jan Wagner, trans. by David Keplinger (appears in Poetry, Volume 221: Number 1)


๐Ÿ Š Catch the live show Sunday mornings at some time-ish: 

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (April 14, 2024)

 So glad to be back! And with these poems. Enjoy!

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (April 14, 2024)


  • The Sun by Anne Sexton (from her collection Live or Die)
  • Moon Song for my mother by Caroline Harper New (from her collection A History of Half-Birds)
  • What Remains Grows Ravenous by Ada Limรณn (from her collection Bright Dead Things)


๐Ÿ Š Catch the live show Sunday mornings at some time-ish: 

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (3/24/24)

It has been a hot minute since we last met up for good words by other people, but I'm glad that you've checked back to see if a new edition might be up. It is! It's a rainy day in my part of the world, and we are slogging toward April, but it's officially Spring, so that's a new word to think about being inside.


  • "Whatever Gets The Hay Down to the Ponies" by Maya Jewell Zeller (from her book Out Takes/Glove Box)
  • The Riveter by Ada Limรณn (from her book Bright Dead Things)

๐Ÿ Š Catch the live show Sunday mornings at some time-ish: 

Saturday, March 23, 2024

April 3-7: Erin Pringle to bring home Unexpected Weather Events

This April, I'll be returning home to visit family and to share stories from my newest story collection, Unexpected Weather Events.

Below, you'll find the calendar that will lead us to each other, book-wise. Please bring yourself (and your friends, your neighbors, and your family). <3


April 3: Bloomington, Indiana
Reading and Book Signing
Caveat Emptor (112 N. Walnut, Bloomington, Indiana)
Book signing 6:00-7:00 PM; Reading 7:00-8:00 PM
Free and open to the public

April 4: Casey, Illinois
Hometown Reading, Discussion, and Book Signing
7:00 PM-8:30 PM (Central Time)
Turner Arts Hall (306 E. Edgar Avenue, Casey, Illinois)
Free and open to the public

April 7: Indianapolis, Indiana
Reading and book signing
Noon-2:00 PM (ET)
Indy Reads (1066 Virginia Avenue, Indianapolis, IN)
Registration encouraged (free):

April 3: Erin Pringle brings Unexpected Weather Events to Caveat Emptor

On Wednesday, April 3th, I'll be in Bloomington, Indiana's oldest bookstore, Caveat Emptor. I'll be signing copies of Unexpected Weather Events from 6:00-7:00 PM, followed by a reading from 7:00-8:00 PM.

The stories revolve around rural villages and the surreal relationship among grief, love, and loss. In one story, a child explains a war that now surrounds the cornfields and playground; in another story, a family sells their house after the husband and father dies by suicide. Snow turns to blood, a mass genocide occurs in the stone quarry at the end of a country road. And yet birds still sing, a mother hides oranges in a winter yard, and a widow decorates for Christmas. 

The event is free and open to the public, and I hope you'll be there. 
Caveat Emptor
112 N. Walnut
Bloomington, Indiana 47404 
Facebook event link:

Monday, March 18, 2024

Author Reading and Discussion: Erin Pringle at Turner Arts Hall, April 4th, 2024

I grew up attending plays and musicals put on by local high schoolers at Arts Hall, a brick building near the high school that contained the home-ec classes and a modest theatre. Later, I would perform on that stage myself, in The Music Man, Cheaper by the Dozen, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes--among others. Since those days, I've appeared on that stage only in nightmares in which I've completely forgotten my lines and decide to wing it. I am not quick on my feet in nightmares.

Hopefully, my return to that stage will go much better. I'll be bringing Unexpected Weather Events to Turner Arts Hall on Thursday, April 4th--thanks to the Casey Township Library Friends of the Library group who is sponsoring the event. I'll read from the book, followed by a discussion led by my former high-school English Teacher Mrs. Pierce. Copies of Unexpected Weather Events will be available for purchase. 

The event is free and open to the public, and I hope that you'll join me. 

Turner Arts Hall
306 E. Edgar Avenue
Casey, Illinois
7 PM - 8:30 PM
Thursday, April 4th