We had the good fortune of connecting with Camari Carter Hawkins and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Camari, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The first time I ever thought about starting a press was when I attended the Association for Writers and Writers Programs Conference in 2019 in Portland, Oregon. I walked around the book fair and noticed there were over a hundred presses in attendance. I could count on one hand how many were Black and/or Brown-owned. That was a problem for me. At that moment, I thought that there needed to be more representation for us. The name of the press did not come until my grandmother’s birthday later than year. I was sitting in her kitchen with her and my mother. After talking for hours, I thought about how precious the kitchen is for many families. That is where the idea for Mama’s Kitchen Press was birthed.
What should our readers know about your business?
I am most proud to exclusively support writers who are Black and/or descendants of the African Diaspora. It is my heart to amplify and prioritize Black voices. Our overarching goal is to publish writing that is personal, heartfelt, and intimate, which reflects the essence of the kitchen. We collect submissions for anthologies twice a year and aim to host readings by those writers around the U.S. What sets us apart as well is that we support the total writer. We offer editing services, book marketing support, and self-publishing. We are now offering independent publishing in 2021. Although Mama’s Kitchen Press is just six months old, we already have a literary cannon that is bursting! We cannot wait to offer these books in 2021.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would take my friend to the Ensemble Theater to witness some powerful offerings. Hopefully, my dear friend Crystal Rae is featuring in one of the plays herself. I’m not much of a clubbing girl anymore, so I would take my friend all around town to try the best BBQ, texmex, coffees, and desserts. You can’t forget shopping!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to shout out my husband who is my major supporter, William Hawkins. The following names are friends, loved ones, and poets who have pushed me to start this press and not give up: Melinda Lewis, Alexander James, October BLU, Jessica Jackson, Crystal Rae, Hiram Sims, YellaWoman, Brittney Souder, Eboni Echols, and if I have left out anyone, charge it to my memory and not my heart. I am blessed with a wealth of community.
Image Credits: Brooklynn White @achangeofartt