Stoykova-Klemer is a prolific poet and entrepreneur who’s made a tremendous impact on the Kentucky arts scene since her arrival in Kentucky in 2004. She has created a publishing imprint with Accents, a radio show Accents Radio, and has recently starred in the movieand has recently starred in the movie Proud Citizen, which she also co-wrote.
The film’s director, Thom Southerland, says, “There’s something very open about Katerina. She’s likable. She’s very vulnerable. There’s also this optimism about her. Making a movie is really hard. We spent a year and a half on this and her optimism never waned. And that comes through in the movie.”
Proud Citizen has been showing in film festivals across the U.S. The film took the jury prize for Best Narrative Feature—the top prize at the New Orleans Film Festival in October—and won the audience award at the Knoxville Film Festival in September.
The film centers on a Bulgarian playwright who wins a trip to Kentucky as part of a literary contest. Filmed in Kentucky, Proud Citizen includes several poems by Stokova-Klemer, whose father worked in the coal mines of Bulgaria.
Used in the Project Citizen film, Katerina wrote this poem after her mother died of cancer at the age of 48.
My Mother Was Going to War
I had a dream –
my mother was going to war.
In her slippers
and cotton night-gown, loose
over the large tumors
my mother was going to war.
I cried and begged her,
stay with us.
Stay with us
for two more days –
the war may end
and you won’t even have to fight, Mom.
how can you carry
the machine gun?”
Specialty book publishers
Kentucky is home to dozens of book publishers of one kind or another. Like Katerina Stoykova-Klemer’s Lexington-based Accents Publishing, many Kentucky presses operate from a home base in and around Louisville or Lexington.
It’s worth noting that Kentucky is also home to a number of book publishers that call smaller communities home. Here’s a partial list:
Broadstone Books (Frankfort), www.broadstonebooks.com, (502) 223-4415
Broadstone’s Web site declares, “Our maxim is, “Tell us something interesting, or tell it to us in an interesting way. Even better, do both.” Broadstone publishes numerous genres, though poetry occupies much of its catalog, which includes Stoykova-Klemer’s 2012 book, The Porcupine of Mind.
Jesse Stuart Foundation Books (Ashland), www.jsfbooks.com, (606) 326-1667
Jesse Stuart was a Kentucky Poet Laureate who published more than 2,000 poems and 60 books. The Jesse Stuart Foundation’s publishing arm offers a variety of titles relevant to Kentucky’s history and culture books by Jesse Stuart as well as Thomas D. Clark, Allan Eckert, Billy C. Clark, Harry Caudill, and many other famous Kentucky and Appalachian authors.
Larkspur Press (Monterey), www.larkspurpress.com, (502) 484-5390
At Larkspur, publishing isn’t just a process, it’s an art. The only thing digital about how its books are made is that they involve the actual fingers of founder Gray Zeitz, who’s been making books by hand for more than 40 years. He told the Courier-Journal, “I like it because you’re working with your hands and with your mind,” Zeitz says. “And it makes a beautiful, beautiful product.”
MotesBooks (Cunningham), www.motesbooks.com
MotesBooks publishes a wider range of genres than many other area presses with offerings in memoir, fiction, children’s literature, and audio books. Named for the particles of dust visible in a shaft of sunlight, MotesBooks has worked with many of Kentucky’s prominent writers, including Silas House and George Ella Lyon.
Steel Toe Books (Bowling Green), www.steeltoebooks.com
Western Kentucky University professor Tom Hunley started Steel Toe in 2003 with a focus on poetry. Hunley says, “We try to sell enough copies of each book to fund publication of the next book. So far that’s worked out pretty well.”
If we left your favorite Kentucky book publisher off the list, let us know! Go to Kentucky Living’s Facebook page and tell us about the Kentucky press that’s making books you love to read.
Read the Kentucky Living February 2015 feature that goes along with this Web exclusive, Katerina Stoykova-Klemer.