Its first National Book Award last November capped several years of rapid growth at Copper Canyon Press and raised the profile of the Port Townsend, Wash.—based nonprofit publisher.

"The day after the awards were announced, we had about 12,000 orders" for Ruth Stone's In the Next Galaxy, said managing editor Michael Wiegers, noting that the press had "stocked up" before the awards with 3,500 copies. "We'll take that any day for a poetry book." Copper Canyon, which specializes in poetry, plans to harness the recent attention, beef up marketing and closely manage operations while seeking continued financial support. In nine years, the press has grown from four employees to 10, and has tripled the number of new books published annually from six to 18. Sales have grown 10% to 15% for several years, Wiegers said.

The last nine years has also brought the press critical recognition. In the Next Galaxy and Alberto Rios's Smallest Muscle in the Human Body, also nominated for the National Book Award, marked Copper Canyon's fifth and sixth poetry nominations. This past October, Madeline DeFrees's Blue Dusk (2001) won the $25,000 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets.

But Copper Canyon, like many nonprofits, has also seen donations—about half of its revenue—shrink in the economic downturn, Wiegers said. For the year ended April 2002, total revenue was nearly $764,000. "A smart nonprofit is also a smart business,'' Wiegers said. "We can't be completely aloof to the vagaries of the publishing industry. We do have to pay attention to making money."

Forced to be cautious in a down economy, Copper Canyon plans to hold off further expansion, Wiegers said. Instead, the press will stay at its current size while investing more in marketing. Copper Canyon is also looking for a new publisher since former publisher Thatcher Bailey left the company for personal reasons. Board member Peter Lewis is filling in temporarily.

For 2003, Copper Canyon has high expectations for Reversible Monuments, an anthology of contemporary Mexican poetry, edited by Mónica de la Torre and Wiegers, and The Complete Poems of Kenneth Rexroth, edited by Kenneth Rexroth, Sam Hamill and Bradford Morrow. Weigers also expects to do more poetry in translation and pointed to the success of the 2000 publication of Spring Essence: The Poetry of Ho Xuan Huong, an 18th-century Vietnamese poet's work translated by American poet John Balaban, which sold more than 20,000 copies.

Copper Canyon, emphasized Wiegers, will maintain its focus on poetry. "We've stayed in the trenches of publishing poetry," he said. "Writers know that their poetry is treated with great respect. It's not an afterthought. It's not something to fill out the rest of our list."