The one on the left is Joshua Beckman, the editor in chief of Wave Books who bounces back and forth between Seattle and New York City meeting with current and future Wave Books authors. (As you can see, he enjoys reading more than getting his photo taken.) In the middle is Brittany Dennison, Wave's publicity director. On the right is managing editor Heidi Broadhead, who holds down the fort at the independent press's book-lined Eastlake office.
At only 10 years of age, it's no exaggeration to say that Wave Books is one of the best-respected literary presses in the country. In their early days, the editors published Maggie Nelson's Bluets and Joe Wenderoth's Letters to Wendy's, both of which expanded the possibilities of literary collage. Since then, their influence on American and international literature has only expanded. See Don Mee Choi's Hardly War, Tyehimba Jess's Olio, and anything Mary Ruefle has written for them.
The press also ventures out into the public spaces of Seattle, organizing events such as a translation festival, a trivia night, a film festival, and most recently a limited-edition newspaper full of facsimiles, prose poetry, and handwritten poems, all written by the poets Wave works with. It's called The Wave Papers, and it's amazing.
Oh yeah, and have you seen and felt their books? Go to a bookstore and pick one up. Designer Jeff Clark's much-imitated text-only covers are simple and gorgeous, and they always interact with rather than obscure the work inside. The paperbacks are inexpensive, flecked with fibers, and somehow look better the more they're used.
Wave Books will be celebrated at the Stranger Genius Awards party on September 24 at the Moore Theatre. They are one of three organizations nominated this year, alongside 12 individual artists. To see all 15 nominees, go to thestranger.com/genius2016.