Dawn Valley Press is a small press that began at Westminster College, New Wilmington, Pa., in 1976 through the efforts of Nancy E. James, Assistant Professor of English. Prior to this, Nancy had edited (with Mary Webber Balazs of Virginia Military Institute) I, That Am Ever Stranger: Poems on Women’s Experience. This anthology was published with the aid of grants from the Faculty Research Fund of Westminster College and the American Association of University Women.

George Bleasby, Professor Emeritus of English, and Virginia Graham, Adjunct Instructor of English, joined Ms. James as members of the DVP board of directors. The first two publications under the Dawn Valley Press imprint were The Amish: 2 Perceptions, Woodcuts by Nelson E. Oestreich, Poems by James Ashbrook Perkins; and The Voice of Thy Brother’s Blood, Poems by Mary Webber Balazs, both published in 1976. The following year saw the publication of a second anthology edited by Balazs and James (Touching This Earth: Poems by Women) and a collection of stories by Perkins (Billy the Kid, Chicken Gizzards & Other Tales).

Over the next five years, DVP published four more books of poetry by Westminster faculty members and others. Ms. James also directed Westminster students in publication projects that involved interviewing, writing, and editing. The first of these was the booklet Happy Valley: A Selective Guide to the New Wilmington Area. This was followed in subsequent years by several issues of Just Reminiscing, for which students in James’s freshman writing classes gathered personal stories from New Wilmington seniors.

In 1983 a Westminster student, Keith Rowland, proposed that DVP launch a twice-yearly literary magazine of poetry, prose, and art on the theme “life in rural America.” Rowland and James were co-editors of the inaugural issue of Sunrust Magazine, Fall 1983. Each issue of Sunrust contained an 8-12 page center section featuring an individual poet or artist. Among these were such widely published poets as Ed Ochester and Barbara Crooker. Rowland continued as co-editor until his graduation. With the Spring 1986 issue, Perkins became co-editor. Sunrust continued through eight more issues, until Ms. James retired from Westminster in 1990. In her final year on the faculty, Ms. James oversaw publication of two poetry chapbooks, her own A Leap of Vision, and Shirley S. Stevens’ Pronouncing What We Wish to Keep.

Through 1990 DVP continued to publish books of poetry and prose. These included a second book of fiction by Jim Perkins, Snakes, Butterbeans, & the Discovery of Electricity, and two books of poetry by alumnus Jack Ridl.

The name Dawn Valley Press was revived in 2010 for the publication of Kathy Koop: Retrospectacular: Variations in Clay and Wood from 1973 to 2010, which accompanied the artist’s one-woman show at Westminster.

In 2015 a new life began for Dawn Valley Press, as Valentine J. Brkich was named managing editor. Val is currently working on rejuvenating the company and bringing it into the modern world of digital publishing.

Highlights:

Dawn Valley Press began at Westminster College, New Wilmington, PA, in 1976 through the efforts of Nancy E. James, Assistant Professor of English. In 2015 a new life began for Dawn Valley Press, as Valentine J. Brkich was named managing editor.

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