Weary of hearing negative news reports about his hometown, Rockford, Illinois publisher Thomas L. Vaultonburg, founder and publisher of Zombie Logic Press, decided to do something. So he established the Rock River Literary Series. The goal of the series is to locate the most talented Rockford writers and publish their first books, giving them access to a local, regional, and national audience. The end game is to show Rockford and the national media that we have a literary presence, and a group of diverse and talented creators here worthy of a national audience.
The idea actually came from my long-time friend and publisher of the Rock River Times, Frank Schier, who passed away in January. Over the years we had many "meetings" to discuss poetry, which was one of his great passions. Near the end of his life he invited me to his house to unveil his ambitious idea of creating a website to commemorate all the writers who have lived along the Rock River Trail, but also to offer Rockford writers a portal for publishing their work. I came away from the meeting thinking why not just find talented Rockford writers and just publish their books?
The first book in the Rock River Literary Series was Jesus Correa's Iced Cream, a book of short stories, poems, and Correa's unmistakable art work. The Rockford community responded in an overwhelmingly positive way, and a book release party at Rockford Art Deli was attended by some 150 people.
On June 9th the 4th book in the Rock River Literary Series, Atrocious Poems A To Z by creative and real life couple Jenny Mathews and Thomas L. Vaultonburg will be unveiled at an exhibit called Bittersweet Observations at Rockford Art Museum. The 26 illustrations from the book will be part of the exhibit, which is headlined by Shark Girl artist Casey Riordan Millard. Also in the show are Sarah Reed McNamara, Jeremy Ainfraim, and Jenny Mathews. I feel like a career minor leaguer getting a call up to the big leagues. What an honor to even be a small part of such a great show with these artists I respect so much.
As Downtown Rockford experiences a rennaissance, I recall moving into a building on S 3rd Street at the heart of what F.B.I statistics rated the 3rd most dangerous neighborhood in America nearly ten years ago now. Every news story by local media about Downtown was negative, and the comments on the stories in social media were invariably that Rockford needed to give up on revitalizing Downtown because it had become a lost cause of violence and decay. Of course that wasn't even true then, and it's certainly not the case now.
For the first time in decades every storefront from the river to Midtown is rented, and in the middle of all of that Zombie Logic Press quietly gives Rockford a national literary presence with the Rock River Literary Series, but also with Zombie Logic Review, which published well known poets from around the world, and Outsider Poetry, the most widely known advocate for outsider poets and artists.
My ultimate goal is to publish two books by Rockford writers every year, and support of Atrocious Poems A To Z will help me on my way to that goal.
You can order your advance copy of Atrocious Poems A To Z here