Red Hen Press

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Red Hen Press
Red Hen Press Logo 2015.png
Founded 1994
Founder Kate Gale and Mark E. Cull
Country of origin United States
Headquarters location Pasadena, California
Publication types Books
Fiction genres literary fiction and poetry
Official website

Red Hen Press is an American non-profit press specializing in the publication of poetry, literary fiction, and nonfiction. Founded in 1994, Red Hen is now located in Pasadena, California. The mission of Red Hen Press is to publish work of literary excellence, support diversity, and promote literacy in the local schools and community. The press holds the belief that it is essential to our society to promote a readership that remains open and critically engaged in reading a variety of well-written, thought-provoking work.

There are two imprints of Red Hen Press, Arktoi Books and Boreal Books.


Red Hen Press was founded by Mark E. Cull and Kate Gale in 1994. It began as a collective, and now publishes a number of notable authors.

The press was reorganized as a non-profit 501(c)3, getting its federal exemption in 2004. Red Hen Press established a Writing in the Schools program in 2003, which has received funding from the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, the Kinder Morgan Foundation, the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs, Sony Pictures Entertainment, the Rose Hills Foundation, the Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, the Macy's Foundation, and the Ahmanson Foundation. Its reading series at the Ruskin Art Club, Boston Court Performing Arts Center, Annenberg Beach House, and the Geffen Playhouse has hosted such writers as Anne Carson, B.H. Fairchild, Billy Collins, Carolyn See, C.D. Wright, Chris Abani, Li-Young Lee, Nikky Finney, T.C. Boyle, Terrance Hayes, and Yusef Komunyakaa.

The press began with a mission to discover, publish, and promote works of literary excellence that have been overlooked by mainstream presses, and to build audiences for literature by fostering the literacy of youth and by bringing distinguished and emerging writers to the public stage. In 2011, the mission evolved into the commitment to publish work of literary excellence, support diversity, and promote literacy and a community of readers and writers who are actively engaged in the essential human practice known as literature.

Award-winning books and authors[edit]

Red Hen Press has published several notable, award-winning books:

Promoting literacy[edit]

To promote both literacy and creative expression among young people, Red Hen Press' Writing in the Schools(WITS) program brings published authors into Title-1 schools in the Los Angeles and Pasadena Unified School Districts to run writing workshops and to read and discuss their work. The program strives to present creative writing and contemporary literature to Los Angeles County students in new and interesting ways while still upholding California State Standards for Education. The instructing author conducts at least four writing workshops at a classroom participating in the program. The lesson plans vary, but tend to begin with an open reading of selected texts, followed by classroom discussions and student writing. Students receive a textbook designed by Red Hen for the program, and at the end of their program, the press collects one poem from each student and compiles them into professionally bound student anthologies, which the students also receive.

The press also organizes readings in schools, universities, libraries, and literary organizations, and donates books to a variety of organizations, including schools and facilities that educate at-risk youth.


Arktoi Books was established in 2006 by Eloise Klein Healy and publishes literary fiction and poetry by lesbian writers. Its mission is to give lesbian writers more access to “the conversation” that having a book in print affords. Arktoi publishes at least one book every year, by new and established authors. Arktoi titles include: Interpretive Work by Elizabeth Bradfield, The Heart's Traffic by Ching-In Chen, Cut Away by Catherine Kirkwood, and The Alphabet Conspiracy by Rita Mae Reese.

Boreal Books was established in 2008, focuses on fine literature and fine art from Alaska, and is edited by the State Laureate Writer of Alaska, Peggy Shumaker. Boreal titles include: Leaving Resurrection by Eva Saulitis, Double Moon: Constructions and Conversations by Margo Klass and Frank Soos, and A Measure's Hush by Anne Coray.

Literary awards[edit]

Red Hen Press offers several literary awards each year, including the Benjamin Saltman Award, the Red Hen Press Short Story Award, Ruskin Art Club Poetry Award, and the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize in partnership with Letras Latinas.

Previous winners of the Benjamin Saltman Award[edit]

The winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award receives a cash prize in addition to publication of the winning poetry collection. Past judges include: Claudia Rankine, Robin Becker, Wanda Coleman, B.H. Fairchild, Nick Flynn, Eloise Klein Healy, David St. John, Dorianne Laux, Thomas Lux, Philip Levine, Alicia Ostriker, James Ragan, Peggy Shumaker, Quincy Troupe, David Mason, and Katharine Coles as the judge for 2012.

  • 2011: Brynn Saito, Bright Power, Dark Peace
  • 2010: Lillian Yvonne-Bertram, But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise
  • 2009: Steve Kistulentz, The Luckless Age
  • 2008: Rachel Contreni Flynn, Tongue
  • 2007: Erinn Batykeffer, Allegheny, Monongahela
  • 2006: Tony Barnstone, The Golem of Los Angeles
  • 2005: Mariko Nakai, Histories of Bodies
  • 2004: Charles Harper Webb, Amplified Dog
  • 2003: Maggie Smith, Lamp of the Body
  • 2002: Susan Thomas, State of Blessed Gluttony
  • 2001: Ann Silsbee, Orioling
  • 2000: Amy Randolph, Cold Angel of Mercy
  • 1999: Jim Peterson, The Owning Stone
  • 1998: Gaylord Brewer, Devilfish

Notable authors[edit]

Notable writers and poets published by Red Hen include:


Chris Abani, Tony Barnstone, Willis Barnstone, John Barr, Ron Carlson, Katharine Coles, Camille Dungy, Percival Everett, Annie Finch, Judy Grahn, Eloise Klein Healy, Ernest Hilbert, Cynthia Hogue, Doug Kearney, Ron Koertge, Susan McCabe, David Mason, Sebastian Matthews, Irene McKinney, Deena Metzger. Robert Peters, Rainer Maria Rilke (translation), Rob Roberge, Peggy Shumaker, Maurya Simon, Jim Tilley, William Trowbridge, Charles Harper Webb


Summer Brenner, Brian Doyle, Janice Eidus, Andrew Lam, David Maine, Ellen Meeropol, Daniel Olivas, Cecile Rossant, Greg Sanders, Antje Ravic Strubel, Marcos M. Villatoro

Non-Fiction & Memoir

Blase Bonpane, Paul Cummins, Jack Foley, Sam Hamill, Tom Hayden

Advisory board[edit]

The advisory board for Red Hen Press contains many notable names: Sherman Alexie, Janet Fitch, Carolyn L. Forché, Judy Grahn, Michael S. Harper, Garrett Hongo, Lawson Fusao Inada, X. J. Kennedy, Galway Kinnell, Gina Knox, Yusef Komunyakaa, Beverly Lafontaine, Li-Young Lee, Robert Peters, Ishmael Reed, Amy Tan, Helena María Viramontes, Karen Tei Yamashita, and Ray A. Young Bear.

External links[edit]