aquarius press

Publishing and Digital Strategies


Award-Winning Books Since 1999

Literary / Academic / Business / Performing Arts / General Interest

National Poetry Month Prize


2023 National Poetry Month Prize

Poets are invited to compete for the National Poetry Month Prize, sponsored by the award-winning Aquarius Press. The competition runs the entire month of April. Poets at all levels are welcome. The winner will receive a $500 cash prize, publication by Aquarius Press and 10 author copies.

All entries will be read blind by our panel of editors. Manuscripts should include a title page (listing only the title of the work), table of contents, and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page. Manuscripts should be paginated and formatted in an easy-to-read font such as Garamond or Times New Roman in pdf format. Manuscripts should be 45-88 pages in length, not including front and back matter (table of contents, title page, etc.). Identifying information for the author should not be included anywhere on the manuscript itself. You are welcome to include a brief bio or something about yourself in your cover note, which will only be made accessible to the editorial panel after the group of Semi-Finalist and Finalist manuscripts has been chosen.

Manuscripts containing individual stories, essays, or poems that have been previously published online or in print are eligible–please simply note previously published work on an acknowledgments page. On the other hand, if your manuscript has been previously published as a collection (including publication with a press, self-publication, online/digital publication, and publication in a small, limited-edition print run), then the manuscript is not eligible.

  • Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.
  • Multiple submissions (the submission of more than one manuscript to the contest) are permitted but a separate fee applies.
  • Prize awarded upon publication.

We look forward to reading your work!

After the entry fee is paid at, email the entry to

Coming Soon–A Memoir by Sokunthary Sway and her story of her family’s escape from the Khmer Rouge

Black Fire This Time (2022)

Aquarius Press/Willow Books

Dr. Kim McMillon, Editor. Foreword by Ishmael Reed, MacArthur Fellow


496 pages

Anthology on the history and legacy of the Black Arts Movement. Featuring over 100 poets and writers, including Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, Haki R. Madhubuti, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin, Michigan’s own Denise Nicholas, Ron Milner, Gloria House and Dudley Randall, along with a new generation of award-winning writers in the tradition.

Congrats to Denise Nicholas, writer, actress and activist, whose story excerpt based upon her real life as a Freedom Summer volunteer appears in Black Fire This Time! Nicholas, along with other volunteers from Michigan, will now be recognized every August for their service:


All That Glitters: The Ava Cherry Story (2022)

Ava Cherry and Lisa Torem

January 25, 2022


256 pages


At long last…Ava Cherry tells her story.

Ava Cherry first emerged in the music industry as a background vocalist for David Bowie. She appeared in his historic 1980 Floor Show and sang back-up with Luther Vandross and Robin Clark on his Young Americans (1975) album. Signing with RSO/Curtom Records, Ava Cherry released her first solo album in 1980, Ripe!!! With production by Curtis MayfieldRipe!!! made the disco Top 10 and spawned the Top 40 R&B hit “Love Is Good News.” Renowned music industry executive Bobby Colomby signed Ava Cherry to Capitol Records in 1981 and paired the singer with producer Bob Esty, whose work with artists like CherDonna Summer, and Barbra Streisand made him one of the most in-demand producers in LA.

CONGRATS TO CAROLYN STRIHO for making the GRAMMYS FIRST BALLOT for her audio edition!


Mac & Irene: A WWII Saga (2021) by Margot McMahon

A true story of love, perseverance and the saving power of art. Artist and WWII B-17 navigator Franklin “Mac” McMahon fights to survive captivity behind enemy lines to return home to Chicago and his sweetheart, Irene.

Order Today! AMAZON.COM

Mac survives the Stalag Luft III POW camp and returns home determined to make the world a better place with his art. McMahon will become an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning artist-reporter. He was the courtroom artist for the Emmett Till Trial and the infamous Chicago “Conspiracy” Trial of 1969/70. McMahon was also a Presidential and U.S. Space Program artist. Mac & Irene: A WWII Saga is the first in a trilogy on McMahon’s legendary life and legacy.

Franklin “Mac” and Irene McMahon

More about “Mac”:

VISIT THE MARGOT MCMAHON COLLECTION for all of her new titles!

If Trees Could Talk is a hybrid historical fiction/memoir that uncovers family secrets through the clues of Margot’s father’s paintings and her mother’s writings. “This is all they left to follow the breadcrumbs of their life story. The fear of losing my mother and her patterns had already happened, now Dad was ailing and I don’t know my grandparent’s names let alone where I came from. As I discover my Northern Irish Catholic roots, I realize my adventurous life has been a quest to understand my past.”–Margot McMahon 

Book 3: RESIST! A Visual History of Protest

The final book in the McMahon family saga, the story behind many of Mac’s social justice illustrations. Mac was an eyewitness to many of America’s most important moments. Pre-order today for the December 13 launch!

A Temple for Tomorrows by John Jeffire (2021)

John Jeffire will release his upcoming collection, A Temple for Tomorrows (2021). John was Aquarius Press’ first “Living Detroit Series” poet and will be our final Detroit poet published after 22 years.

Hustler. Rough beast. Teacher. Right out of the gate John Jeffire’s book shrieks. This puzzle is an homage of blood, family, war—shake downs, masques of shame, rotary phones, doing time. Its pieces are innumerable—chaos, surrender, soul, both penniless and proud; they are abandoned motels, saving face, steel and bone. They whisper Johnny Ace and a Wonder Woman. Detroit, America—eat your heart out. A Temple for Tomorrows kicks ass, takes names. At its core is an inimitable heart.

Jim Reese, author of Bone Chalk

Grover McCants, author of Dick Brown’s Cookbook

COMING 2023!

Dick Brown’s Kitchen, our first-ever lifestyle series!

Fun Fact: The Story behind the “Dick Brown” Persona

The cookbook’s title is named for McCants’ quasi-alter ego, Dick Brown. McCants received the name from one of the star players of the Bad Boys Pistons®. McCants recalls the humorous naming story within the cookbook.

CONGRATS to Willow Books Division Poet Lupe Mendez, the 2022 Texas Poet Laureate! Lupe is the author of Why I Am Like Tequila, Winner of the John A. Robertson Award Best First Book of Poetry 2019
Texas Institute of Letters

Lupe Mendez


New AQP logo2020

EST. 1999

Publishing & Digital Production

AQUARIUS PRESS is an industry leader in publishing and digital production. The press is known for its excellence in developing bestselling authors and book-to-screen studio projects. 


We have two subdivisions:

Willow Books ( develops, publishes and promotes many of the nation’s top poets and writers of color.

AUXmedia is the “Next-Gen” platform for film, television and podcast productions.

Willow Books Division

Raising King by Joseph Ross

I would like to hope that Raising King, my new collection of poems, might offer ways to reflect and act to create a more just America. –From the Author

ORDER Raising King today:  Aquarius Press SHOPIFY

Aquarius Press Arts & Business Series

A new line of authors sharing insights and best practices for the public good. 

From Jim Crow to CEO: The Willie E. Artis Story

The amazing true story by Willie E. Artis, Flint industrialist, governmental business advisor and friend of blues icon B.B. King. 

CONGRATS to Willie E. Artis, Winner, Michigan Business & Professional Association Awards!


Detroit Stories: A Motor City Podcast

Hosted by Heather Buchanan

Featuring stories about the city of Detroit by those who know and love it best. True stories, short fiction, dramatic readings and so much more, all for your listening pleasure each week. And of course, there is no Detroit without a good Motown story or two.

Tune in, sit back and enjoy every week as we reminisce—and dream—about the future of Detroit.

AUXmedia Broadcasts YouTube Channel


Detroit (Maiden Energy) by Carolyn Striho

Nominated for nearly sixty Detroit Music Awards in recent years, Carolyn Striho is a two-time Outstanding Rock/Pop Songwriter of the Year winner. Other big award wins include Outstanding Americana Album of the Year 2014 for Word Attack and Outstanding Rock/Pop Album of the Year for Honesty. Besides her infamously charismatic live shows at many festivals, clubs, and art galleries in the Midwest and Canada, she has five tours of Europe under her belt, as well as a two-month stretch in Japan, opened for Steve Earle in England, and has performed in Detroit, Toronto and London with Patti Smith. Carolyn is best known for her new music and catchy, magically intense live shows and songwriting. Her live performances with her latest band, her legendary shows and writing fronting the well-known Detroit Energy Asylum band, with Patti Smith, and her punk/art rock years with Rough Cut and the Cubes, as well as performing with Don Was and the Was Not Was Band, Iggy Pop, the Ramones and the Slits.

Willow Books proudly launched the double-feature debut of Sokunthary Svay (New York) and Sahar Mustafah (Chicago)!

4 Sahar low res.jpg

Congrats to our recent honorees at the Smithsonian!

Lucinda Roy, Bestselling Novelist and Willow Books Poet


The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller

Literary Activist, Fullbright Fellow & Washington, DC Hall of Famer


carr center logo

The Writers@The Carr Residency Program

Global Reach

To date, Aquarius Press titles have been presented in far-reaching locales, including Manila, Philippines and Rwanda, Africa.

Visit Our Bookstore

More About Aquarius Press:

Aquarius Press, founded in 1999 in Detroit, publishes trade, academic, and special interest titles. Key partnerships have been formed with several universities, libraries, governmental agencies, and literary organizations. Several titles are included in numerous library collections, including the University of Michigan Special Collection, Poets House in New York, and the African Libraries Collective. The flagship imprint, Willow Books, was co-founded with Dr. Randall Horton in 2007 with a mission to develop, publish, and promote writers of color. In addition to publishing and providing professional development opportunities, Willow has created a platform for its authors to engage with the public through workshops, conferences, digital streaming broadcasts, and public readings in the U.S. and abroad. Signature events include the annual LitFest (Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, San Antonio, D.C. and New York) and its Literature Awards. The press has active roster of 50+ single-title authors and has published over 10 anthologies and journals containing the works of hundreds of poets and writers. An industry leader, the press is known for its excellence in design, content and development of award-winning authors and fellows.


Lincoln Ctr
PEN Faulkner WIS

downloadCave Canem Foundation, Inc., NYC

Furious Flower, VA

carr center logoThe Carr Center, Detroit, MI

University of New Haven Readings Series, CT

Springfed Arts, Detroit, MI

PEN/Faulkner, Washington, DC


Associated Writing Programs (AWP)

Book Expo America (BEA)

Split This Rock, Washington, DC

Modern Language Association (MLA)

Midwest Modern Language Association (M/MLA)

Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature (SSML)

London Book Fair

American Library Association (ALA)

National Council for Teachers of English (NCTE)

Poets House Showcase

About the Owner & Publisher:

Heather Buchanan is an award-winning publisher and producer. 

Heather Buchanan

Heather Buchanan is the owner/publisher of Aquarius Press and its flagship imprint, Willow Books. A graduate of Wayne State University and the University of Michigan-Dearborn respectively, Buchanan has taught at several colleges and universities. An arts consultant, Buchanan is a former Poet-in-Residence for the Detroit Public Library system and served on the Board of Governors for UM-Dearborn’s College of Arts & Sciences Affiliate. A musician and playwright, Buchanan served as COO of the Wayne County Council for Arts, History & Humanities in the state of Michigan. She was a 2020 SAM Career Pathways specialist.

Buchanan’s Willow Books authors are many of the nation’s leading poets and writers of color. She is currently publishing Black Fire—This Time Volume 1 (2022), a compendium of Black Arts Movement icons including Nikki Giovanni, Haki R. Madhubuti, Sonia Sanchez, James Baldwin, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ron Milner, Dudley Randall and contemporary poets and writers including Ishmael Reed, Quincy Troupe and Denise Nicholas, among many others.

Buchanan is also the founder of AUXmedia, a film studio headquartered in TechTown Detroit. 

Currently producing a book and film project based on the archives of Flint millionaire CEO and Obama Administration business resource Willie E. Artis, Buchanan is the Executive Producer of the Sundance Institute-supported Solomon (2021) and a producer for Hastings (2022), an audio drama and novel series set in late 1950s Detroit. She is currently producing a family saga trilogy based on the life of WWII hero and Emmett Till Trial artist-reporter Franklin McMahon and developing the story into a feature film.

A Humanities scholar, Buchanan received a Proclamation from the City of Detroit. She serves on the board of LATITUDE CHICAGO.

  • 2021 Selection Committee, LATITUDE Chicago Artists-in-Residence
  • 2020 Presenter, National Humanities Conference, Indianapolis
  • 2020 Career Pathways Committee, Society for American Music (SAM), Minneapolis, MN
  • Host, LitFest Broadcast, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., San Antonio, Minneapolis
  • 2019 University of Michigan-Dearborn Difference Maker Alumnus of the Year
  • 2019 Michigan Humanities Council Champion of the Year Nominee, Lansing, MI
  • 2019 Featured Presenter, Association of Black Sociologists Conference, New York City
  • 2019 Presenter, National Black History Month Luncheon, Association for the Study of African American Life & History (ASALH), Charlotte, SC
  • 2018 Featured Presenter, Southfield Public Library, MI
  • 2018 Director, LitFest, East Harlem, NY
  • 2017 Fellow, Society for American Music, Montreal, Quebec
  • Past COO, Wayne County Council for Arts, History & Humanities


1533 Winder Street (Eastern Market))

Detroit, MI 48207



20615 Fenkell, #23096

DETROIT, MI  48223


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