Sunday, July 31, 2011

12 or 20 (small press) questions: Rupert Loydell on Smallminded Books

Smallminded Books [photo borrowed by William Michaelian, here] is a fly-by-night publisher who produce books folded from a single sheet of A4 paper. The books are mailed out to friends, acquaintances and the authors as the publisher feels fit. There have been 12 titles in the last 8 weeks.

1 - When did Smallminded 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? How does this differ from your earlier work through Stride?

About 9 weeks ago. Casting around for workshop ideas to use with my first years in relation to 'writing as visual art' and artists' books, I came across instructions on how to fold/cut a piece of paper and fold a little booklet from it. I loved it. The workshop went well[so well that the next issue of With, our student magazine, is a gathering of 20+ different little booklets in some kind of wrapper] and I got very excited by the possibilities of this simple, quick way of making something.

The only goal has been to have fun and get some work I am interested in out into the world. It's different from Stride because it costs very little, and I make no claims for it. The work is produced in short runs and is usually out of print 4 or 5 days later.

2 - What first brought you to publishing?

Being introduced to the small press poetry world by poet friends, and my mother having mimeographed the church magazine while I was growing up, along with my family's bookworm tendencies.

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

I think that is up to the individual publisher.

4 - What do you see the press doing that no one else is?

Having fun.

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

Print and publish them, then give them away.

6 - How involved an editor are you? Do you dig deep into line edits, or do you prefer more of a light touch?

An incredibly light touch! I try not to deal with poets who can't edit their own work, or devise a way to work with others before submitting manuscripts.

7 - How do issues get distributed? What are your usual print runs?

200 copies. Stuff them into mail, put them into books, give them to students.

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?

Just me for Smallminded Books. I work with other publishers and editors on other projects, that is my own poetry titles, and when I edit books such as the recent Smartarse anthology for Knives, Forks & Spoons Press.

9- How has being an editor/publisher changed the way you think about your own writing?

For me, publishing has always been a way of reading other people's work and sharing enthusiasms.

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?

The arguments for and against have all been rehearsed and repeated numerous times. so much so that I think the discussion is irrelevant. I'm skeptical when presses exist solely to produce the publisher's own work, but have no problem with publishing my own work. The first Smallminded Books was a set of my own small poems.

11- How do you see Smallminded Books evolving?

I don't. It will probably run for a while and then stop when I'm bored with it. It's designed to be ephemeral and low-key. It's a quick fix to deal with my sense of exile from poetry publishing since I ended Stride.

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?

I think the world needs immediacy, interesting objects and free gifts as much as glossy paperbacks or online access.

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

For this, mostly a student-run magazine called Whip, which they produced and left lying around the university where I lecture. It had a different format though.

Otherwise I might point to some lo-fi artists books as well as everyday leaflets & flyers.

14- How does Smallminded Books work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large? What journals or presses do you see Smallminded Books in dialogue with? How important do you see those dialogues, those conversations?

It doesn't, the press relies on personal contacts/friendships, many from the 30 years I've been writing or the 22 years I published Stride. If it engages with communities at all is is only by giving them things to read.

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

No readings or launches, although I did hand out copies of my own Smallminded Books edition when I did a reading a couple of weeks ago. But the press is mercifully marketing-free.

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

I don't. I am indulging my luddite tendencies with this one.

17- Do you take submissions? If so, what aren't you looking for?

Nope, I aren't looking for submissions. I read voraciously and invite authors to contribute if I think it appropriate.

18- Tell me about three of your most recent titles, and why they're special.

Mike Ferguson's Found In Dissonance is the first publication of any of Mike's ongoing sonnets project apart from on his blog, which is mainly to do with listening to LPs. The poems are gritty, urbane and witty. He deserves a proper book.

David Miller's from Holger Enke's Room is a snapshot of a longer sequence in progress, that demonstrates the author's philosophical and mystical concerns with belief and language.

Philip Terry's Spring Sestina (Sprung Sestina) allows Phil's playful sestina room to breathe and live on its own, giving a very different reading experience to a sestina in a regular book format.

Other titles by Richard Kostelanetz, Peter Finch, John Levy, Roselle Angwin, Peter Dent, rob mclennan and Nathan Thompson are just as interesting and focussed.

12 or 20 (small press) questions:

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