charles p. ries | one book

18 02 2010

PoetryDispatch No. 312 | February 18, 2010


Charles P. Ries

What is a book? Is it a manuscript that, in one form or another that has been rejected by over 300 agents and has not found a publisher a book? Are the 600 copies I have created at my local Kinko’s-FedEx for $5.00 and then sold for $10.00 a book? I don’t know, but after years of immersing myself in this writing trough, I no longer care. I just write what I write. And I publish any way I can.

I caught the heat twelve years ago. Before then I had not been born to the word. I did not write fiction, poetry, short stories, articles, reviews, interviews, but when the light shown on me I became a hot rocket. I have published five books of poetry and too many reviews, articles, and interviews to count (but no one gets ‘book credit’ for any of this kind of writing, do they?). At one point I was the poetry editor to three on line publications. I was consumed with writing. I loved it. It was everywhere.

Not long after my literary birth, I decided it was time to try short stories. So I wrote twenty six of them focused on my growing up on a mink farm in Wisconsin. I am quite sure that each story in this collection was rewritten in excess of twenty times. When I submitted it to agents as a short story collection, I was rejected by over 100 agents. So I hired myself a developmental editor and she guided me through restructuring the short story collection into a novel based on memory. My guess is we rewrote that manuscript about fifteen times before submitting it to agents who loved it, but said was too small a story to make money on. So I began to publish The Fathers We Find myself and sell it. But I didn’t stop there. I wrote a continuation of The Fathers We Find called, A Life By Invitation and again queried agents; and again received a hurricane of rejections. So I worked with my developmental editor to weave material from The Fathers We Find as flash backs in A Life By Invitation. The final product was wonderful. I queried over 200 agents. I still have the entire list of agents whom I queried and who rejected my manuscript; I call it my Page of Pain. That manuscript sits in my drawer until one day the heat returns and I will again rebuild it.

But nothing is wasted. No effort goes unrewarded. I continue to sell The Father We Find and people love it. They laugh, they cry, they are puzzled. Sometimes it is this love that keeps us writing. It is this love that makes me realize, I have something to say and people love how I say it. So if there was one book I would like you to read, it would be The Fathers We Find.



  • Girl Friend & Other Mysteries of Love by Alternating Current Press, Leah Angstman, Editor.
  • I’d Rather Be Mexican by Cervena Barva Press, Gloria Mindock, Editor.


  • I’d Rather Be Mexican, (download free) 2005
  • The Last Time, Moon Printing and Publications 2005
  • Odd, Four-Step Publications, (second printing) 2004
  • The Fathers We Find: The Making of a Pleasant Humble Boy, (Prose) Bad Monk Press/Kinko’s FedEx 2004
  • Monje Malo Speaks English, Four-Step Publications, (third printing) 2003
  • Bad Monk: Neither Here Nor There, Lockout Press/Four-Step Publications 2001

Charles P. Ries lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His narrative poems, short stories, interviews, and poetry reviews have appeared in over two hundred print and electronic publications. He has received four Pushcart Prize nominations for his writing. He is the author of THE FATHERS WE FIND, a novel based on memory and five books of poetry. Most recently he was awarded the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association “Jade Ring” Award for humorous poetry. He is the poetry editor for Word Riot ( and a former member of the board at the Woodland Pattern Book Center. Charles is Co-Chairman of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. He will have two books of poetry published in early 2010: Girl Friend & Other Mysteries of Love that will be published by Alternating Current Press, Leah Angstman, Editor. And I’d Rather Be Mexican that will be published by Cervena Barva Press, Gloria Mindock, Editor. He is a founding member of the Lake Shore Surf Club, the oldest fresh water surfing club on the Great Lakes ( Most recently he was interviewed by Jane Crown for Blog Radio. You may find that interview by going to: and clicking on archived shows at the bottom of the page. You may find additional samples of his work by going to: