Thursday, April 29, 2010

12 or 20 (small press) questions: William Allegrezza on Moira

1 – When did Moria the online journal, and then the trade books, first start? How have your original goals as a publisher shifted since you started, if at all? And what have you learned through the process?
Moria first started when I was living in Baton Rouge in 1998.   I could not get easy access to the materials that I most wanted to read, and I was a poor graduate student, so I could not pay for them.  Thinking about my own case, I decided to start a journal focusing on innovative that could be read anywhere.  The trade/ebooks started in 2005.  I just thought it would be a good way to offer books without the complicated process of a full printing.

2 – What first brought you to publishing?
I came to it in the beginning to read innovative work.  Publishing brought me to the work, and after that, publishing brought me into the broader world of contemporary poetry.

3 – What do you consider the role and responsibilities, if any, of small publishing?
Small presses need to exist to publish work that the large corporate presses are not willing to take on.  In essence, small presses needs to be there for innovation.

4 – What do you see your press doing that no one else is?
I could answer that question when the presses started, but I’m not sure that Moria does anything that is completely distinct.  It publishes a decent amount of Vispo and post-language work, but that could be found also in other journals. 

5 – What do you see as the most effective way to get new publications out into the world?
The e-zine is a quick way to spread work around the world, but really, I think getting work published has become much easier than it used to be, and the big part today seems to be drawing attention to a publication, not just publishing it.

6 – How involved an editor are you? Do you dig deep into line edits, or do you prefer more of a light touch?
The light touch—I do not edit the pieces much at all on Moria.  I do that more in my critical editing positions.

7 – How do your books get distributed? What are your usual print runs?
Through the website.  Since Moria focuses on free ebooks with the possibility of printing, I don’t try to distribute the books.  The ebooks get quite a bit of traffic, so I’m not too worried about attracting new attention. 

8 – How many other people are involved with editing or production? Do you work with other editors, and if so, how effective do you find it? What are the benefits, drawbacks?
I work alone with Moria.  In other projects I work with others, but I like to keep Moria as my own project.  If I like a piece, I put it online, and I don’t have to argue with someone else about it.

9 – How has being an editor/publisher changed the way you think about your own writing?
I think it influences all aspects of my writing.  I think about writing for online and the page different.  I think of paper sizes when writing for print.  I think of method of distribution.  I think I focused just on writing before I became involved in publishing. 

10 – How do you approach the idea of publishing your own writing? Some, such as Gary Geddes when he still ran Cormorant, refused such, yet various Coach House Press’ editors had titles during their tenures as editors for the press, including Victor Coleman and bpNichol. What do you think of the arguments for or against, or do you see the whole question as irrelevant?
I will publish my own writing if I think it fits in the project, but I have stopped publishing my work through Moria.  I like to see my work in a variety of places, so I don’t want to tie it up myself. 

11 – How do you see the press evolving? How do you see the journal evolving?
I’d like to add more advanced media pieces, like movies, mixed media—basically I’d like to see more works that use the properties of the Internet in the work.

12 – What, as a publisher, are you most proud of accomplishing? What do you think people have overlooked about your publications? What is your biggest frustration?
Moria has published many poets in its ten plus years.  I’m happy about publishing poets without worrying about who they are.  I try to focus on the work, so that sometimes has me saying yes to a first time writer

13 – Who were your early publishing models when starting out?
I don’t think I had anything specific in mind.  Publishing on the Internet was a new thing when I started. 

14 – How does Moria engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large? What journals or presses do you see your books in dialogue with? How important do you see those dialogues, those conversations?
Moria does not engage much with my local community; however, it has a large readership.  People visit the site from roughly 44 countries a month.  I think the international readership is important for the journal.  I dialogue about publishing issue with many other editors, and I think that help me stay aware of what is working and not working in the publishing field.  That gets reflected in Moria.  Ultimately, through talking with other publishers, I began to see the need for the ebooks/POD books, so I started that part of Moria.  

15 – Do you hold regular or occasional readings or launches? How important do you see public readings and other events?
Moria does not host readings or launches.  If there were more people helping me, I would.  Most of the advertizing for the ebooks/PODs happens through e-mail, Facebook, and other such sites.

16 – How do you utilize the internet, if at all, to further your goals?
Well, as an e-zine, the Internet is crucial, but really I think have an e-zine is good because it makes the work more widely available than a print magazine.  

17 – Do you take submissions? If so, what aren’t you looking for?
 Yes, I do.  I posted something about this topic on my blog a few years ago, and I think it is still works.  I’ll just paste that here:
*read the journal before submitting. most of the poems i reject are in styles not published in the journal.
*don't forward submissions that have obviously been rejected many, many times. go ahead and remove the "forwarding" marks from your e-mail.
* don't rant about how good you are in the cover letter. (related: don't tell me about the five million places you have published your work.)
* don't be degrading to women.
* don't send extremely religious work.
* don't tell me about all the wonderful poets you know in poetryland. unless i know one of the poets as a friend, it doesn't make me take a second look at your work.
* don't ask for advice. i get too many submissions to do that. join a writing group for advice.
* don't write me two weeks after you submit looking for an answer.
* don't center all of you poems.
* tell me about work that you like in the journal.
here are some suggestions for what to do after you are rejected.

* don't write me to complain. that doesn't make me change my mind. plus, if i am on the edge about your work, that just makes me not want to look at future work from you.
* get over it. who the hell am i? who is any editor really? if your work is good, keep trying to get it out there.
* go read some contemporary poetry. if you, a poet, don't read contemporary poetry, who does?
* write and publish a poem on how much you hate me. (make sure to send it to me.)

to be forthcoming, i'll give you some of my poetry prejudices for moria.

* i like innovative/experimental/playful poetry for moria. that's what it's supposed to be about.
* i don't publish extremely religious poetry or poems about breasts (in praise, lust, whatever).
* i think poetry should uphold life, not denigrate it.
* i don't publish poetry written by poets named harold unless they remind me of haroldo de campos.

18 – Tell me about three of your most recent titles, and why they’re special.
Ed Baker’s Goodnight is a fascinating book that plays with words on the page and images.   Mark Young’s More from Series Magritte expands on his first book from Series Magritte, and really, I just think that Mark is an incredible writer.  Last, I always like the new issues of the e-zine, and I just posted one with many interesting writers. 

1 comment:

Janylee McGlinchy said...

Well, I would just like to say that I do like William Allegrezza's declarative honesty where he tells the reader under #17what he does not like as an editor, when he reviews submissions to Moria. It was doggone good. And I have for one, "got over it" as I have been rejected on occasion :>) Just makes me want to keep trying all the harder. And I especially thought it was most humourous when he poked fun at himself when he said, "who is any editor really?" A little helping of humility is most noteworthy.