Tuesday, July 05, 2011

12 or 20 (small press) questions: Amanda Ackerman and Harold Abramowitz on eohippus labs

eohippus labs is a literary micropress located in Los Angeles, California.

Amanda Ackerman and Harold Abramowitz are co-publishers and co-editors of the press eohippus labs. In addition to their individual works, they also write collaboratively as part of the projects SAM OR SAMANTHA YAMS and U.N.F.O. (The Unauthorized Narrative Freedom Organization). Their collaborative work has appeared in a variety of publications including Area Sneaks, String of Small Machines, A Sing Economy, Source Material: A Journal of Appropriated Texts, Abraham Lincoln, and as an Arrow as Arrow chapbook, Sin is to Celebration. In 2011, Harold and Amanda, as part of U.N.F.O., co-organized Explanation as Composition, a collaborative audio text project, at Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions.

1 – When did eohippus labs 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?

 eohippus labs started in 2006. The original goal was to give writers we knew a venue for work outside of their normal practice. Our goal has not shifted since then. We’ve learned that asking people to access or articulate another part of their thinking can be a difficult task.

2 – What first brought you to publishing?

 The desire to publish work that we love and felt would have no other home.

3 – What do you consider the role and responsibilities, if any, of small publishing?

We can only speak for ourselves, but see the above answer. We also try to work with different economies to make our work more accessible.

4 – What do you see your press doing that no one else is?

We’ve been doing a a pamphlet series, a greeting card series, and most recently an innovative narrative series.

5 – What do you see as the most effective way to get new chapbooks out into the world?

In our experience, chapbooks get out into the world in grassroots way: at readings, through word of mouth, the internet.

6 – How involved an editor are you? Do you dig deep into line edits, or do you prefer more of a light touch?
 We can be very involved as editors, depending on what the work calls for.

7 – How do your books get distributed? What are your usual print runs?

A usual print run is about 120 books. We also feel it’s important to keep books in print, so we do reprints.

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?
 The editing involves just the two of us. We’re lucky because we get along and work well together. We could imagine it being a very difficult process if we didn’t.

9– How has being an editor/publisher changed the way you think about your own writing?
 Being editors/publishers has made us more sensitive to understanding the need for communication throughout the publishing process. Nobody likes to have long periods of silence when waiting for work to be published.

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?
 This issue depends on the goals of each individual press. The idea for eohippus labs actually got started because Harold wanted to publish a piece of Amanda’s writing that he thought was great.

11– How do you see eohippus labs evolving?

The bottom line is that eohippus labs will evolve along the lines of what we can afford to produce.

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?

We are proud of everything we have published and love that these pieces of writing exist in the world. Our biggest frustration has been learning how to design and make the books. Also, we’d love to devote more time to the press, but the day jobs do get in the way.

13– Who were your early publishing models when starting out?

We were inspired by our friends’ presses in Los Angeles – Insert Press, Les Figues Press, and Make Now Press.

14– How does eohippus labs work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large? What journals or presses do you see eohippus labs in dialogue with? How important do you see those dialogues, those conversations?
 Engagement with our immediate literary community and the community at large is integral to everything we do. We think those dialogues are crucial and ongoing. There would be no reason to engage in this project otherwise.

15– Do you hold regular or occasional readings or launches? How important do you see public readings and other events?


Yes, we do. Readings are very important.

16– How do you utilize the internet, if at all, to further your goals?


We don’t what life is like without the internet.

17– Do you take submissions? If so, what aren’t you looking for?

Right now, we solicit work and do not take submissions. However, we are planning to change this process in the future. The one thing we are not looking for is pieces or excerpts from larger projects. We want the press to be part of a generative process for writers: either by publishing small, self-contained pieces that they would not have been written otherwise, or by seeding what might become bigger projects.

18– Tell me about three of your most recent titles, and why they’re special.
 Recently we have published a pamphlet by Cara Benson titled The Secret of Milk, and an innovate narrative piece by Allison Carter titled Sum Total. They are both great writers and their work speaks for itself. We think you should read them.

12 or 20 (small press) questions;

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