Five years ago, when I learned that Neil Azevedo—a former editor at Columbia University Press—was starting a literary press in Nebraska, I was delighted. Even if it was called Zoo Press, I’m a fourth-generation Nebraskan, so I wanted very much to see this venture succeed. And Azevedo initially made some exciting moves. He forged contest partnerships with Paris Review and Kenyon Review, he arranged for distribution through the University of Nebraska Press, and acquired Nebraska Review from the University of Nebraska–Omaha. By late 2004, he seemed poised for a breakthrough.
His upcoming line-up included: a second book by New England Review poetry editor C. Dale Young that was a finalist for the Academy of American Poets’ James Laughlin Award; a book of essays by Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry; and the Zoo Anthology of Younger Poets, edited by New Criterion poetry editor David Yezzi. Azevedo seemed to have cornered the market on talented, young poet-editors. Then, he did something very strange… He disappeared. He stopped publishing books. He stopped answering his correspondence.
But, lest you think that Zoo had gone completely out of business, the press’s website continues to offer updated information on upcoming contests—and instructs people on where to send their money. But apparently they’re not publishing those books either, because David Baker, poetry editor at Kenyon Review and annual judge of Zoo’s Kenyon Review Poetry Prize, has taken the extraordinary measure of posting an open letter on the Kenyon Review website, informing their readers that Priscilla Sneff’s winning book O Woolly City “is still not available; nor is it in production. She has never received the substantial prize money ($3,500). She has heard nothing from Zoo Press for a year. Neither have I. For the past year I have left many emails at Zoo Press’s address and at Mr. Azevedo’s address; I have left phone messages at his home and at the office; I have sent real-mail letters. I have received not a word from him or any associate.”
Neil Azevedo, where are you? And what are you doing with the entry fees submitted to your contest?