What Scienter Press Is About

scienter (sē′-en-ter)*  Awareness of; knowing.

Scienter Press is intended principally to get into print, and keep available to interested readers, poetry that embodies meaning—not necessarily an ultimate truth, but something worth the attention that reading a poem requires. Some corollaries:

  • Thought is as important as feeling.  Both are essential in what makes us human.
  • We assume an inherent difference between a poem and a piece of prose—a difference best defined not only by one's personal response to the poem, but also by the poem's sound and its measure.

That last word—"measure"—is significant.  Most of the poems of interest to us are what has come to be called "formal."  By that we mean characterized by some sort of measure.  Scienter is not a proponent of "formalism" (new or old), or of any particular "ism."  But we do believe that the lines of a poem should be functions of sound, and should not be mere visual arrangements on the page. 

The form of the press's publications may entail broadsides, chapbooks, and larger books.  While Scienter is in no sense a "fine" press, use of computer software and materials of respectable quality should allow for an attractive and readable appearance.  The most important area of quality of course, is that of the poems.  That is where our focus will be.

David Leightty is the editor, publisher, janitor—indeed the entire staff of the press.  I make my living practicing law in Louisville, Kentucky.  But I take the matter of poetry with utmost seriousness.  My poems have been published in a variety of journals and publications, including Blue Unicorn, The Cumberland Poetry Review, The Hypertexts, Iambs & Trochees, Legal Studies Forum, Measure,  Phase and Cycle, Poems in Memory of Yvor Winters on the Centenary of His Birth (Robert L. Barth 2001), Slant, Sparrow, and SPSM&H.  Robert L. Barth published my two chapbooks, Civility at the Flood Wall (2002), and Cumbered Shapes (1998), before he closed down his publishing operation, and Bob has been unfailingly generous to me with extremely useful advice and other help as I bumbled my way into Scienter Press.

* Most sources list the pronunciation as "sī-en-ter," but we prefer the pronunciation in wide use among lawyers.

The Stories Behind the Name and Logo

The Name, "Scienter Press"

I'm a lawyer.  The term "scienter" is used in the law to denote awareness, intent, or knowing of something.  The word can be viewed as referring to human consciousness itself.  Since a primary focus of this press is poetry that includes the presence of the human mind, "scienter" had an appeal.  And I was pretty sure no one else would have used the name.

The Logo

It’s a stylized image of the Brooklyn Bridge.  The graceful beauty of the bridge has long appealed to me.  The history of the building of the bridge makes it a perfect symbol for the human imagination, the human intelligence, and the human spirit.  In using the bridge, I owe a debt to Hart Crane.  Crane’s attempt to turn the bridge into a symbol may have been an overextended failure—but if so it is an intriguing failure nonetheless.  My use of the bridge is less ambitious.

The work of turning a photographic image of the bridge—a picture I took on a trip to New York—was done by the artist Sharon Howerton Leightty.  I am grateful for her excellent work on that and other visual images used by Scienter Press.  Since she's married to me, I manage to prevail upon her regularly. 

Special thanks also to my colleague in the practice of law, Alison Messex, without whose hi-tech expertise this website would not be possible.