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Columbia Missourian

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Save the University of Missouri Press

By Joan Frank
May 31, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

An open letter to University of Missouri System President Timothy Wolfe:

I write today to implore you to find any other tactic, rather than close the University of Missouri Press.

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I owe the Press the official launch of my life as an artist: It accepted and published my first book of literary fiction "Boys Keep Being Boys: Stories," thirteen years ago.

Though I came to my writing life comparatively late, it has been a life-changing gift — for my readers, I dare hope, as well as for myself — and the Press' validation is fixed securely at its heart.

"A service to the fiction community," was how the Press' then-editor termed its embrace of my work. My story collection went on to be nominated for several fine awards and was reviewed glowingly in the New York Times Book Review.

The hard fact of present-day literary art is that it's the small, independent and university presses who are single-handedly rescuing new and emerging writers from the chaotic neglect of what few major publishing houses remain. These small, independent operations shine as the sole, brave curators of art that matters. We must ensure they will continue as such, informing and illuminating successive generations of American writers and readers.

Please do not let this vital light die.

I owe the foundation of my life as an artist to the Press and its excellent staff. Please do not cut them off. This will be a true tragedy — and you will always be remembered as that tragedy's author and instigator.

Please let the Press continue to make necessary, important work — and to pull new and emerging American writers into the lifeboat of legitimacy.

Joan Frank is a full-time author who lives in Santa Rosa, Calif.