It takes a brave soul to publish poetry in this world where tweets and status updates have overshadowed more substantial literary efforts, where a book won’t sell without a celebrity name or an accompanying film franchise. It takes a bolder person to publish poetry and nothing else—even someone heroic, or insane.
This is the burden Springs resident Lucas Hunt must bear, and it’s no surprise he seems a bit mad, in his own genteel way. But this is what it takes to launch a poetry imprint in 2013. Hunt, 36, believes in the power of poetry clearly, resolutely and without trepidation. He lives it, embodies it and nothing will stop him from spreading the love.
Just in time for National Poetry Month, on Saturday, April 20, Hunt’s eponymous imprint Hunt & Light is releasing its first book, Original Message, and introducing its first poet, Matthew Frazier, to the world. Appropriately, the event is taking place at Poet’s House, a 50,000-volume poetry library and center in Manhattan.
“We’re launching poets, not just books of poetry,” Hunt said, noting that following the release, he will spend the next year promoting Frazier, Original Message and, of course, the art of poetry at various schools, organizations and literary events. After 12 months, Hunt & Light will launch its second young poet and the mission will continue like this for each year to follow.
“I think the literary arts are actually on the rise,” Hunt said, refuting the notion that literature is suffering in America. Whether the new publisher is misguided remains to be seen, but his passion is infectious. “We are in a national state of cultural redefinition, and people are actively searching for new ways to identify with one another on more meaningful levels,” Hunt explained. “Poetry and literature remain powerful tools in our existential battles for a more truthful awareness of what it means to be alive today in America,” he mused, adding, “They provide a brilliant form of collective understanding, through the heartfelt media of individual expression. Poetry and literature remain limitless.”
Hunt, an Iowa native who graduated from the Southampton College MFA program, lives in a world of books and words. He’s the kind of man one could imagine doesn’t own a television, the guy who’d be stumped by references to the Real Housewives or Lindsay Lohan’s latest rehab announcement. Hunt works as an agent for Philip G. Spitzer Literary Agency in East Hampton by day and spends his nights and weekends attending readings, setting up events and, hopefully, writing his own well-regarded poems.
He has published two volumes poetry, Lives and Light on the Concrete, and presents himself as a man of taste and finery, someone who rarely spouts a gruff word and wouldn’t be caught dead in sweatpants. Not ever. Hunt wears his hair well quaffed and his suits well pressed. He has a certain quirky charisma and stands a slim and handsome figure. The perfection of it all could appear a pretentious affectation or a put-on, but Hunt is as earnest as a well-written sonnet. He’s a meticulous eccentric, a rare bird without artifice, only unique and unusual plumage.
Without a sense of irony, Hunt calls himself the model for the “gentleman poet,” an aesthetic he means to promote with Hunt & Light. “This is just the beginning of what we call the rebirth of the gentleman poet,” he explained, noting, “Hunt & Light aims to create a limited line of high-end men’s fashion items. We are collaborating with a few of our favorite designers to produce simple yet sophisticated cufflinks, bow ties, and French cuff shirts, all tastefully featuring our logo Foxy, a mythical fox with wings who is pursued by the hunt, yet, by the grace of poetry, becomes light and escapes it.”
Through innovative and imaginative ideas like this, Hunt says Hunt & Light will eventually be a success, which could simply mean breaking even, publishing great books and promoting the art of poetry.
As Hunt describes it, “The vision for Hunt & Light comes from a desire to make beautiful books that will stimulate imagination. Poetry is a timeless art form, and our objective is to hand-publish quality collections with simplicity and style. Our authors’ work is original, inventive, and most of all, demonstrates a strong passion for life. The human voice is an ancient tool, powerful in its ability to transmit an experience through the ages.”
Hunt & Light is still seeking its next poet, who must be someone with lyrical writing, world consciousness and passion, the publisher said. “They have to be right.”