Hi! My name is Richard Jeffrey Newman. CavanKerry Press published my first book of poems, The Silence of Men, more than 10 years ago, but I still make a point of reading from it, two poems in particular: “The Taste of a Little Boy’s Trust” & “Commerce.” Because every time I read them at least one man from the audience will find his way up to the front of the room and, in a quiet voice, as if he doesn’t want anyone else to hear, he’ll say thank you.
Sometimes, this man will wait till he can pull me to the side for a brief moment of what feels to him like privacy, and once a man even followed me to the door of the bathroom just so he could say thank you where he thought no one else would hear him.
When I wrote those two poems, they broke for me the decades-long silence in which I had held what the man who lived on the second floor of my building did when he sexually assaulted me. I was twelve or thirteen years old. What the men at my readings thank me for is the way my work breaks that same silence for them as well.
I don’t know if the many publishers who rejected The Silence of Men before CKP accepted it did so because of the subject matter my poems explore. What I do know is that when CKP agreed to publish my book, they did so fully aware of how important it is to break the kinds of silences poems like mine break.
This commitment to publishing poetry that makes a difference in the daily lives of ordinary people is why it’s so important to support the work CavanKerry Press does. If you know a man who has survived sexual violence, or someone who loves such a man, or if you’re connected to an organization that in some way works with male survivors, I hope you’ll consider supporting CavanKerry by buying a copy of my book and gifting it to them.
But even if my book in particular doesn’t speak to you…if you care about poetry, if you believe that literature has a role in creating communities where people feel seen, supported, and nurtured, I hope you will consider supporting this press in any way that you can. Their work really does make a difference.