67 Press invokes something different

by Rebecca Harrelson

| @writemesweetly

“Alan pitched me his idea for 67 Press over drinks and Tequila shots one night at this bar called The Tap. Before he could even finish I told him I was in.”

Matt Ankerson describes the new publishing endeavor he and Alan Wright have entered into.

“I guess I forgot to mention the tequila”¦it’s a frequent participant in my ‘good ideas,'” Wright describes in their conversation with YES! Weekly.

Two men with very different backgrounds and areas of study meet. Amongst all the things they did not have in common, the one thing they share is a passion for something different in the publishing world. A sense of talent, neuroses and humor follow Ankerson and Wright around daily, like a thought bubble only creative minds can see.

Alan Wright was born in Mandeville, Jamaica and graduated from Virginia Tech. “I was really into punk and indie music when I was in high school, and through reading about those bands and what inspired them, I found the Beats, Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson, Ken Kesey and Henry Miller,” Wright said. “I was pretty infatuated with counter culture of any era. Since I couldn’t experience the ones from the past, I read about them and that just led to more authors and more books.”

Matt Ankerson, from Framingham, Massachusetts, graduated from Ripon College, a small liberal arts college. “I was always introverted,” he said. “As I child I often gravitated towards solitary activities. Reading, drawing, or really anything that did not include another person being present. This is when my love for literature actually began.”

After meeting at work, the two quickly bonded over their love of books and sports, which laid the groundwork for starting 67 Press, based out of Winston-Salem. After discovering some baseball blogs, the two started their own blog devoted to the Atlanta Braves and the Boston Red Sox.

Wright speaks on the evolution of their vision, “We had various incarnations of the blog, posting pretty heavily most of the baseball year until we got busy, then the posts would peter out. While the content was mostly centered on sports in the beginning, we quickly veered off into more creative directions.”

Once the demands of life picked up, Wright and Ankerson started looking into other writers to provide content for their newly expanding blog.

There is a quote that goes something like, “being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.”

Everyday there are writers working at their skill, trying to get out a story that is within them. Wright and Ankerson finally were able to see all those silent writers and shine a spotlight on their talents.

Wright describes the processes. “I’m not interested in a perfect piece of polished shit waiting to be mass produced. I like it a little messy and emotional, raw and talented; once we knew what we were looking for, we started to find it all over the place.”

Their sports blog was now churning into a twister of passions. Bringing together a collective of artists is not always easy into today’s society, with writers and artists lumped into the “lazy profession.”

“When will you get a real job?” is a phrase thrown around a lot. What others don’t understand is “we are writers and artists first,” Wright explains. Everything else is secondary.

Many of us are fully aware of the great artistic scene growing within the Triad, however most professional book publishers are focused on artists that are already established. There is a sense of formality and confinement in the arts community that does not appeal to Wright or Ankerson. 67 Press is small and new but filled with ideas and excitement. That same excitement fuels night owls creating stories at the glow of their computer screens for no reason other than to produce work.

Ankerson talks about that particular thread that makes up 67 Press.

“(We’re looking for) those who are unique and talented in their own ways, but share in my love of creativity,” Ankerson said. “I feel if an artist can solicit in others thoughts and emotions of amusement, relatability, offensiveness, dissension, or simply make them uncomfortable, then I believe you can be on to something. Those are the types of artists we aspire to work with.”

Collectively, Wright and Ankerson are thankful to all writers and individuals they have worked with thus far. “Our goal was to get our first publication out in 2014, then three more in 2015. We’re on schedule and have enough prospects and commitments for 2015 to continue to grow while keeping focused on our mission. The next two to three years are the most critical in terms of output and growth. We are excited for what’s next with 67 Press.”

North Carolina needs this untapped raw talent pulsing through its core. Wright and Ankerson are definitely on to something meaningful here, something artists and readers alike can enjoy for years to come.

67 Press is having a reading at Scuppernong Books this Saturday allowing themselves to be more in the public eye. Wright sheds light on the next phase of 67 Press, “We’ve mostly concentrated our efforts in finding interesting, talented people and helping them tell their stories.

We’re happy with the fruits of that labor. We’ve published three books (two anthologies from various authors, and one novella) and we have two short story collections coming out the beginning of 2016.”

By allowing readers to engage with their creations and their audience, this reading will surely be a fantastic tribute to what 67 Press is all about.

“Plus there’s usually drinks and snacks, and we’re big fans of that,” Wright says jokingly. !


Contributors to the recent 67 Press anthology, Affinity, will give a reading at 7pm on Saturday, Nov. 7, at Scuppernong Books located at 304 S. Elm St. in Downtown Greensboro.