The 2016 POPS the Club anthology, BEFORE THERE WERE BARS, is finished at last off to the printer. Making a book is a complicated, often exhausting, daunting dance, and I’m not talking only about the writing and the artwork—the soul-wrenching work it takes to do that part.

I’m talking editing, organizing, designing, proofreading, front and backmatter, ISBNs and acknowledgements. Making a book is a job, and it’s a craft, and it’s a challenge, and this time we called upon dozens of folks to help in this venture, but most importantly those who shepherd the students to find and offer up their stories.

But then there is Alison Longman, there every step of the way as I passed along one edited story and poem after another after another after another. She read, she asked questions, she edited, she returned to the pieces again and again, and then she proofread and read again. Now, finally, nine months and the book is at 336 pages, twice the length of our previous two, and it’s ready to go to print. I even found the perfect designers, TLC Graphics, where owner Tami Dever patiently and generously listened to everything I had to say: About how POPS the Club students’ work is sacred, how important it is to us to honor each student’s thoughts and visions. Without even an ask, Tami decided she wished to donate half their normal fee, and she and Monica Thomas designed this oh-so-exquisite book. And this time, students from Lawndale POPS and LAHSA POPS and Venice POPS all are represented, and students from Lumberjack POPS named this book, and well, I’m proud, so I wanted to give a preview here. This is what the new collection looks like!

Update: We officially launched this latest anthology at Barnes & Noble at the Grove on November 12…stay tuned for the 2017 Anthology! Visit our POPS the Club Facebook page to stay up-to-date.

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