As if it Fell from the Sun: Celebrating Poetry from EtherDome

Chelsea DeRose

At the end of July, a small gallery packed in eager audience members for EtherDome’s As if it Fell from the Sun anthology release party. With a handful of readers scattered about the crowd, the Canessa Park Gallery was bustling ahead of an evening of poetry and gratitude. The all female troupe of readers had one thing in common that evening, besides sharing pieces of their poetic visions with a packed house. They were all there to pay homage to their humble beginnings with EtherDome Press, a press that recognizes, highlights, and supports the unpublished female poet, and launched each individual reader’s first chapbook.

Colleen Lookingbill and Elizabeth Robinson are the co-founders and editors of EtherDome Press. When asked if As if it Fell from the Sun felt like a culmination piece for EtherDome, Elizabeth answered, "I read and reread that work as I edited and proofread the book, and I can say that my admiration for the work stayed fresh.  It's a wonderful thing to be involved with a community of writers and writing for a dozen years.”

This labor of love is visible and exciting in the format of EtherDome’s first and only book length work to date. As if it Fell from the Sun has an alluring cover and touch (literally) to the book as it is first picked up. With a dashing floral collage centered above a sepia toned old schoolhouse style building, the cover has a soothing quality, inviting the reader in. One of EtherDome’s very own is credited for the collage piece inlaid on the cover, Linda Norton, whose poetry is also featured within the anthology.

A total of 21 female voices are featured in As if it Fell from the Sun and their work varies from pieces originally published in EtherDome’s chapbook series, to more recent work.  Upon opening the anthology, the editors blend together an introduction addressing the history as well as what EtherDome hopes to achieve within the constraints of the collection. Each page is uniformly structured with the same type font for each piece and title, as well as marking the bottom of every left page with the author’s name and the bottom of every right page with the title of the book. The reader can enjoy flowing from one author to the next or jumping around the alphabetized list without author’s biographies or artist statements interrupting the pure poetry of the anthology. Personally this choice to hold the author’s bio for the back of the book seems agreeable and wise. The lack of preface engages all of the senses and helps avoid biased preconceived notions, allowing the reader to simply enjoy each poem at will.

In terms of content and style, EtherDome is not afraid to showcase new and inventive forms of poetry. Susanne Dyckman, one of the featured poets believes “the new EtherDome anthology, As if it Fell from the Sun, brings together the diverse voices of the chapbook series.  There is no fixed style, no singular approach to the act of writing a poem, which reflects both the poetic curiosity and incredible generosity of the editors.”

It is hard to ignore the present and influential community that all of these women share with Elizabeth and Colleen. The idea for showcasing women only stems from the notion that women are less likely to share their work, promote their own work, and are outnumbered in the publishing world. Since the launch of EtherDome in 2000, “Colleen and I had a lot of fun locating people we wanted to publish and we proceeded rather casually: who did we hear at a reading? who did we meet as we traveled? Almost all the submissions we received came from men!  So we needed to stay attentive to women writers and we did that by looking to the environments that immediately surrounded us” explains Elizabeth.

San Francisco traditionally serves as a platform for the small press or small group to come together and launch new projects and ideas. Elizabeth recognizes this in SF. “What I like about the Bay Area is that writers don't have a necessary relationship to institutional culture.  I feel that people respect those poets who work outside higher education and understand that the sources that feed poetry don't have to be tied to the burnishing of a C.V.”

And after twelve years of working with the undiscovered female poets, EtherDome Press now has a well versed, incredible display of female talent collected in one book. As if it Fell from the Sun is an anthology worth the effortless read and reread with something for every poetry enthusiast. It harvests a wide range of voices and unique experiences embedded in the generosity of Colleen Lookingbill and Elizabeth Robinson’s dedication and vision for As if it Fell from the Sun and EtherDome as a whole. 


As if it Fell from the Sun
Edited by Colleen Lookingbill and Elizabeth Robinson
EtherDome, 2012
ISBN: 978-1467514613


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