sexual predators in pobiz & new life for my field guide to autobiography

CW/TW: sexual abuse, broets, pobiz bullshit

If you’re one of the two people who read this blog (hi, Mom!), you might know that my book, field guide to autobiography, was orphaned back in October due to the press’ publisher being outed as a sexual abuser. As a survivor of sexual violence, a staunch women’s rights advocate, & a human being with a brain who believes women, this was triggering on many levels.


When I found out, it was a week after the Mendo Lake Complex Fires, & I was on a bus home from Oakland where I had been doing a reading & classroom visit at CCA. I’m wearing a mask and I’m feeling such rage. I’m thinking of betrayals and rape culture and the woods and I’m listening to Black Hole Sun and remembering the toxic aftershocks. Memories I’ve trapped in amber all these years.  So –  after crying for about an hour while somehow also listening to 90s rock, I wrote to the publisher & withdrew my book.

For several months, I distracted myself with family & work obligations, & tried to work through some of this rage at the gym, all while mourning & feeling pretty cagey about trusting another publisher with my work.

A few weeks ago, I delved into editing and revising my manuscript-in-progress (which is largely about rape culture & sexual predation of teen girls), little ditch, & excised half of it, rendering a chapbook-length manuscript which I later submitted to above/ground press. Feeling the momentum from that accomplishment, I decided to submit field guide to a few presses I had carefully vetted (though, the vetting wasn’t new  – I thought I had carefully vetted the previous publisher as well). Well….

This story has a happy middle. I found out just last week that both field guide to autobiography & little ditch will be published by The Operating System & above/ground press, respectively. I’m so thrilled, & grateful to both Lynne DeSilva-Johnson & Rob McLennan for being such stalwart, literary citizens & for helping to restore my faith in poetry world. Hooray for great publishers who actually give a damn about the work! Hooray for not needing to spend 5 hours proofreading my manuscript because the publisher kept introducing weird errors & errant phrases during every iteration! Hooray for a true collaboration! I’m stoked.

Oh – there have been these two new, wonderful reviews published about field guide:

This one in Publisher’s Weekly & this gem from Mariel Fechik in Glass

Stay strong, friends.

Published by


Melissa Eleftherion is a writer, a librarian, and a visual artist. She is the author of field guide to autobiography (The Operating System, 2018), & nine chapbooks, including the forthcoming trauma suture (above/ground press, 2020). Born & raised in Brooklyn, Melissa now lives in Mendocino County where she manages the Ukiah Library, teaches creative writing, & curates the LOBA Reading Series. Recent work is available at

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s