Small publishers have always been a part of the New Orleans arts scene. In 1845, a group of free people of color published Les Cenelles, often called the first anthology of African-American poetry. In the early 1920s, a local literary magazine called The Double Dealer published works by writers like William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and Amy Lowell. In the 1960s, Jon and “Gypsy” Lou Webb produced a new literary magazine called The Outsider from their French Quarter apartment. Their Loujon Press also printed books from writers like Henry Miller and Charles Bukowski. Today, small presses in New Orleans continue to publish poetry and prose, challenging conventions in the city and beyond. Here’s a (partial) list of the interesting publishers at work in New Orleans today.

Antenna has been known for its role in local arts and literature since launching under the name Press Street in 2005, publishing poetry chapbooks, artists’ books, and illustrated guidebooks, including many by local writers. Recent publications include Do No Harm (pictured), artist Kate Lacour’s exploration of the collection of the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum; and Larval Songs, a “dark poetic fantasy” by Brad Richard, illustrated by Kelly Anne Mueller. Antenna’s print shop, known as Paper Machine, opened last year in the Lower Ninth Ward, offering printing facilities and studio space to local printmakers. Paper Machine also houses a collection of artists’ books and frequent classes on printing, drawing, and other paper-based arts. It will soon also host a print-focused residency program. (antenna.works)

Crescent City Books
The bookstore now located at 124 Baronne Street in the Central Business District has, along with Boston’s Commonwealth Books, published poetry from around the world under the Black Widow Press name. More recently, its Crescent City Books Press imprint has focused on works tied to New Orleans, including Louis Maistros’ acclaimed novel The Sound of Building Coffins and David Fulmer’s historic mystery series about detective Valentin St. Cyr’s investigations in Storyville. A second local imprint, Second Line Books, focuses on historic local titles, from 1800s Creole poetry to the 1940s bestsellers by local author Frances Parkinson Keyes. (crescentcitybooks.com)

Garrett County Press
The name comes from a region of Western Maryland where editor George Darby’s father, a journalist, grew up. But the publisher, originally founded in 1997 in Madison, Wisconsin, is based in the Crescent City, where Darby helped start the (formerly Anarchist) New Orleans Bookfair 17 years ago. The press originally focused primarily on works based in punk and other subcultures: An early popular title was the Best of Temp Slave!, an anthology of stories from Jeff Kelly’s 1990s temp worker zine. More recently, the press has branched out into other subjects, including the history of New Orleans and places beyond. Daniel Browne’s soon-to-be-released novel In the Weeds takes a satirical look at gentrified Brooklyn. (gcpress.com)

Lavender Ink
Author and editor Bill Lavender began producing handmade poetry chapbooks for friends in the early 1990s. He’s since migrated to longer, traditionally printed works of American poetry, fiction and nonfiction. About half of Lavender Ink’s writers are from Louisiana—one recent title is C.W. Cannon’s sprawling novel French Quarter Beautification Project, in which the Greek God Dionysius visits 1980s New Orleans. A second imprint called Diálogos focuses on books in translation. Some of the most exciting titles lately are from North Africa, Lavender says. An upcoming book features “essays and remembrances” on The Writing Irish of New York, including works by writers like Colum McCann and Billy Collins. (lavenderink.org)

Portals Press
Founded in 1993 by editor John Travis, Portals Press’ first book was a posthumous collection by the poet Everette Maddox entitled American Waste. Maddox was the co-founder of a still-running weekly poetry reading series at the Maple Leaf Bar on Oak Street, and Portals has since published a number of anthologies of poets from the readings. A 40th anniversary volume is slated for early 2019. Portals mostly focuses on collections of works from various poets, but the press has also put out some short stories and novels. (portalspress.com)

Trembling Pillow Press
Trembling Pillow Press was founded by poet Megan Burns in 2006. The press focuses on works important to contemporary poetry, including full-length collections of poetry, shorter chapbooks, and even printed postcards and broadsides. Recent publications include collections from poets Stephanie Anderson and Lauren Ireland. The press has also put out literary magazines including YAWP: A Journal of Poetry and Art and Solid Quarter Poetry Magazine. Burns also runs The Dragonfly, a community space at 3921 St. Claude Avenue, which among other events hosts her long-running Blood Jet Poetry Series of regular readings. (tremblingpillowpress.com)

Unlikely Books
Founded by editor Jonathan Penton in 2005, Unlikely Stories grew out of Penton’s online literary magazine. Penton says the press focuses on “transgressive” literature, which can refer to either its form or content. Examples include Soy solo palabras but wish to be a city, a long poem of Juarez, Mexico, illustrated in graphic novel style; and the poet Anne McMillen’s collections Monolith and When Red Blood Cells Leak that Penton says challenge organized religion and politics. A Penton favorite is Ashes and Seeds by the late Michelle Greenblatt, a poetry collection dealing with mythology and the treatment of women and girls. (unlikelystories.org)

top illustration Erin K. Wilson