5.19.2010

Center for Book Arts, NY -- which actually has a contest
San Francisco Center for the Book

Chax Press

There are almost too many to list, actually; there are books published as games (and v.v.), boxes, all sort of things. Michele Detorie at Womb, Jessica Smith at Foursquare. Many small presses and chapbook presses have handmade books on etsy.

There was, relatively recently, a group of Bay area poets who were doing Japanese-stitched chapbooks.

Ugly Duckling Presse.
Burning Deck.

The Santa Cruz - area fine letter presses. The San Francisco press workshops that brought everyone from Judy Grahn to the langpos into print.
The California Arts & Crafts Movement publishers.
Brother Antonius / William Everson.
Kelsey Street Press and other publishers of art and poetry collaborations.

Poetry in former cigarette machines, poetry in gumball machines, poetry in fortune cookies. Jenny Holzer.

There were as many self-published authors -- like Bern Porter, Louis Zukofsky, and later Steve McCaffrey, bp nichol, etc. -- at least in early stages of their books, around the mimeo/xerox revolution in print technology. What about poetry publication in the UK, which was largely what we would consider self-or-vanity publishing thoughout at least the "Brit Lit we study in high school" periods?

I have hung back on this thread because I write so much about self publishing, electronic publishing, pod, etc. I wanted to say something new. The appeal of an entirely self-made thing -- that sort of total control -- it is a strong appeal. Poets generally like that sort of control. But the sacrifices are several, including that art objects have a more limited audience and lifecycle (except in reproduction or institutionalization) than do poems or books. Especially if they are on paper. Is the codex with a spine like the painting on canvas?

If you don't know much about other poetry in print, are you ready to seek print for your own work?
If you don't know much about (other) self published authors, are you ready to self publish?

Do you expect to make money?
Do you expect to exchange your work for other works which are not self published? (Are you establishing an equivalence?)
Do you expect your audience to meet you, rather than v.v.? Do you expect the people around you to be your audience?
What, indeed, is your relationship to booksellers, knowing that going to a bookstore is no longer how most books are purchased?

I have had people give me printed ephemera and/or received it or found it various ways, who have been disappointed that I have treated it as ephemeral. It's a postcard, I mail it; it's a "broadside" that's printed out on a laser printer, I use it for a grocery list.

If you are a woman, do you expect to reach a wide audience, knowing that self published and vanity published modernist and feminist poets of the last century (early and late) are now largely forgotten? Unlike, say, the self published male artist poets I mentioned earlier in this post? Know that Grace Conkling has a book with a "tipped in" silver mask? Knowing that WCW's first books were published on a subsidy press, who are the female poets published by the same press, or how come you don't know about them?

If the best poets you know are unpublished, how will you bring them to a wider audience?

And yes -- Alan -- pod printers have long marketed themselves as something for the backlist of presses. You know, keep your books in print, even though you may only sell a few copies a year and not have warehouse space.

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