- Associated Press - Saturday, July 26, 2014

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - Years ago, Victor Depta stood on a street corner in San Francisco surrounded by other pedestrians. Not unusual except that as he stood waiting for his bus to arrive, Depta was crying.

“I was reading Emily Dickinson,” Depta said last week, seated in the kitchen of his East Campbell Street home. “And she’ll break your heart.”

Dickinson, Walt Whitman, William Butler Yeats and William Shakespeare are all names Depta, 75, mentions as sources of inspiration.

“(Their writing) is so beautiful,” Depta said. “I thought, ‘I want to do something like that.’”

It’s no surprise then, that after 40 years spent as an English professor at places like the University of Tennessee-Martin and Marshall University, Depta opened his own publishing company, Blair Mountain Press.

The company started in 1999 in Ashland and stayed there until 2008 when Depta moved to Frankfort to be closer to Helen Smith, an English professor at Kentucky State University.

For the last six years, Blair Mountain Press has called Frankfort home.

Depta is a West Virginia native and his company is named for Blair Mountain in the southern region of the state. Depta started the press with a small group of other writers who wanted to publish works dedicated to the region and the environment.

He speaks of the 1972 flooding tragedy on Buffalo Creek in West Virginia created when a coal company’s dam burst, flooding a town, killing 125 people, displacing more than 4,000 and leaving millions of gallons of black wastewater.

Depta said he is familiar with the coal industry and many of the men in his family worked in the mines in West Virginia. Still mountain top removal and fracking can’t be tolerated, he said.

One of the missions of Blair Mountain Press is to spread knowledge that leads to protecting and preserving the environment.

The company itself does not manufacture books, but works with a printer in Dexter, Michigan for production, Depta said.

In 15 years, the press has published 17 books, 12 of which were written by Depta.

One author, Edwina Pendarvis, has had two works published through Blair Mountain and two authors, Pamela Steed Hill and Vasek Drobny, have each had one book published through the press.

But the best seller, Depta said, is “Coal: A Poetry Anthology,” edited by Chris Green. First published in 2006, the book is popular in certain college classes and has been printed multiple times, Depta said.

Depta is currently writing another book, which he expects to publish in 2015.

All of the company’s books are available for sale on Amazon.com.

The press does not take submissions and publishes books as funding is available, he said.

Depta’s sister, Betty Huff, work’s as the press’ managing editor, but Depta describes the company as “a one-man band.” He keeps the inventory of books in his basement a couple of blocks from the Capitol.

Frankfort is a wonderful place to call home, Depta said, and it’s a great place to be in the publishing business.

“It’s a great spot to be,” he said. “It’s the capital. It’s close to Lexington. As far as Kentucky goes, this is the best place to be (in this business).”

Depta said he isn’t fond of most modern authors and models his writing after literary greats.

“Modern poetry is like modern architecture,” he said. “It’s very stark, and they leave out all the good stuff.”

Poetry should have a lyrical, musical quality, Depta said.



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