Wednesday, August 06, 2008

above/ground press: fifteen (long) years

When you do anything long enough, you realize you've done it for quite a long time. Yes, yes, yes. It's hard to comprehend the markers along the route of the past decade and a half. In my mind, each publication seems an extension and broadening of an ongoing set of ideas.

The past academic year, while I was in Edmonton, I produced a series of eight monthly titles in my University of Alberta office, numbered runs of two hundred copies, and all but two by Alberta authors, all of which will soon be online as free downloadable pdf files. How cool is that? One could easily say that the Ottawa poetry pdf poetry annual ottawater, soon to accomplish a fifth issue, is an extension of my work through above/ground press, as is the more recent work with Jennifer Mulligan on Chaudiere Books. What about The Peter F. Yacht Club, invented and distributed through above/ground press, as Amanda Earl recently realized is going to be five years old with issue #12 out this fall, produced and edited by her. How can everything not fit into everything else?

With some five hundred and fifty above/ground press items so far, including various magazines (STANZAS, Missing Jacket, drop, The Peter F. Yacht Club), chapbooks, broadsides and other ephemera, it was originally started in August, 1993 (there were other chapbooks that came out as early as the fall before, but I seem not to count those, since they were pre-press name). Where does all this activity lead, and how does it keep? What's entertaining is watching the activity that has emerged and managed to maintain since, including Warren Fulton's Pooka Press (and recent Dirty Packrat variant), derek beaulieu's housepress and more recent No Press, Peter and Meredith Quartermain's Nomados, Rob Budde's Wink Books, Amanda Earl's angelhousepress, Max Middle's Griddle Grin, as well as the previously-built works that have managed to continue as well by Gary Barwin, Joe Blades, Jay MillAr (pre-dating me by a year or so), Stuart Ross and jwcurry.

As I have long stated, above/ground press' selection process moves simply where my interest takes me, with recent and forthcoming publications by Priscila Uppal, Pearl Pirie, Amanda Earl, Pete Smith, Christine Stewart, Gregory Betts, George Bowering, derek beaulieu, Douglas Barbour, Catherine Owen, Emily Falvey, Kate Heartfield (as well as perpetually-late publications from Barry McKinnon, Cath Morris, Karen Clavelle and Margaret Christakos) and various others, wandering through style, and wandering through geography.

What else can I tell you?

What else can I say?

This year's launch/party is happening August 14th at the Ottawa Art Gallery as part of the Factory Reading Series, with readings and launches by Amanda Earl and Pearl Pirie. Hopefully you can make it.

For further information on the press generally, check out

No comments: