Six Questions with Kristina Marie Darling of Noctuary Press

Noctuary Press publishes three titles a year, with a particular emphasis on female writers working with prose forms. We seek to create a record of, and bring visibility to, formally innovative work by women that is underrepresented in mainstream literary publications. All titles are perfect-bound books, which are published in editions of fifty to one-hundred. Noctuary Press is based in Buffalo, New York.

1. Is your name really Darling or are you secretly a country song?

My name really is Darling. My dad’s parents are French, and apparently there’s a “Darling River” in France. That’s where my name comes from, according to family lore. But if I weren’t a poet, I’d definitely be a country singer. If I close my eyes I can see it now: cowboy boots, big hair, and me telling everyone how he done me wrong.

2. What does Noctuary mean? Does it involve vampires? Am I going to be afraid of your books?

A noctuary is a record of what passes in the night. It’s like a nighttime version of a diary. I chose the name because the press tries to give visibility to, and create a record of, women’s writing that happens across (and beyond) traditional genre categories. Noctuary Press will never, ever involve vampires, I promise. But there are still a few reasons to be afraid. Our upcoming titles include a creepy rabbit-keeping neighbor, erasures, and algebra.

3. Since you publish books by women, can I read your books even though I’m male, or will you kick me if I try?

Yes, publishing women and kicking men usually do go together. But we’re not trying to exclude, criticize, or implicate male writers. It only looks that way from the outside. What we’re really trying to do is question the power structures within the literary community that make certain texts more “legitimate” than others. Why is poetry more legitimate than something that’s uncategorizable? Why is it more difficult to disseminate texts that don’t fit neatly into a genre category? Why does the undissemenated text become an illegitimate text? For me, these problems are more complex than a division between genders. Gender certainly plays into the legitimation of texts, but it’s a small piece of a much larger mechanism

Kristina steps down from the somewhat dilapidated soapbox. Rage Against the Machine plays on in the background. 

4. Are your books going to be all about feelings and everything I do wrong? Because I get enough of that from my wife and our therapist.

Compared to what’s published by other feminist presses, our books are surprisingly bereft of emotion.

5. Will you publish me since I have a woman’s name?

That depends.What brand is your handbag?

6. Why do you think women are so under-represented in the mainstream publishing world? Is it because men are dicks and won’t publish them, or are female writers dumb and don’t get their work out there?

I don’t think that women are underrepresented in publishing because they get rejected, or because they’re not ambitious. Actually, that’s why I’m underrepresented in magazines. I think that the gender imbalance in publishing has more to do with the available options for women when it comes to submitting work. This is especially true for experimental women writers. Certainly, there are publishers that will produce a beautiful, professional, and “legitimate” edition of someone’s book. More often than not, these markets look for writers who take received genre categories as a given. There are also markets that allow women to experiment, and to engage the notion of genre in a meaningful way. These publications usually lack the capital to design, produce, and distribute the same “legitimate” edition of a writer’s work.

Noctuary Press tries to offer a middle ground between the two. Writers have the freedom to experiment, and I won’t Xerox and staple their books together in my basement. I promise.


CL Bledsoe is the author of ten books and numerous stories, poems, short plays, and essays. He’s been nominated for the Pushcart 8 times, Best of the Net twice, and had 2 stories selected as Notable Stories by Story South’s Million Readers Award. He reviews regularly for Monkey Bicycle, Ampersand, Prick of the Spindle, and Coal Hill Review, among other places.