Longleaf Press publishes poetry and prose of exceptional literary merit by both established and emerging authors. We are interested in language that is not merely reflective but transformative. The press holds an annual contest and publishes at least one book a year.
Founded in 1997, Longleaf Press was the brainchild of Michael Colonnese and Robin Greene, English and Writing professors at Methodist College (later Methodist University), who were also the de facto creative writing program’s only faculty members. Writers themselves, they understood the importance of providing chapbook publication opportunities as few of these then existed.
When Michael and Robin approached the college president, Dr. Elton Hendricks, with the idea of a college-run literary press, he offered them $500 to get the press up and running, as well as the assistance of Monarch Press, the university’s printing office.
Teaming up with Methodist’s faculty working on the Southern Writers’ Symposium, Michael and Robin believed that the press and the symposium could offer each other mutual support, especially in a small college environment. Therefore, the press’s first mission became connected with the Southern Writers Symposium in support of regional poets with its annual chapbook contest.
Later, Longleaf Press expanded its mission to include the publication of a novel and poetry collections from writers outside the South, yet retained its primary mission to serve regional writers through its annual chapbook contest.
From its inception in 1997 until 2020, Michael and Robin ran the press, publishing thirty-three chapbooks, one novel, two full-length collections of poetry, and two volumes of Romanian poetry in translation. And they did this without stipends or additional university support—spending many evenings and summers working on manuscripts—until the COVID-19 pandemic and their subsequent early retirement.
In 2020, Michael and Robin tapped Shannon Ward to become Longleaf Press’s editor-in-chief. A former student of Robin and Michael’s who had interned at the press in 2007, Shannon received an MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University in 2009, became a well-respected poet in her own right. Understanding the press’s long history and realizing its untapped potential, she agreed to carry it forward, unhooked from Methodist University, as an independent literary press.
Longleaf Press is now positioned to become a national press—perhaps international—continuing its tradition of excellence as a publisher not only of poetry but also of fiction. With Shannon’s vision and the board of directors’ support, Longleaf Press is moving toward a rich and exciting future.