Sunday, August 24, 2014

12 or 20 (small press) questions with Ken Hunt on SPACECRAFT

SPACECRAFT is a micro-press that publishes printed chapbooks of experimental poetry and prose inspired by science and technology. All titles published by Spacecraft are available exclusively from SPACECRAFT  seeks submissions of experimental prose and poetry inspired by science and technology. Whether this means that the work was generated using an automated procedure of some sort, operates under a science or technology inspired constraint, engages with scientific or technological language, emerged from a discourse happening within or between certain scientific fields, or some combination of these aspects, SPACECRAFT is interested, so long as the work is experimental, compelling, and evocative. Email submissions to To make a purchase, please email Ken Hunt at

Ken Hunt is the author of Space Administration, a book of conceptual poetry created by plundering NASA’s voice transcription of the first day of the Apollo 11 moon mission. Space Administration is published by the LUMA Foundation, as part of Kenneth Goldsmith and Hans Ulrich’s 89+ Project. Excerpts from the book have been published in NoD Magazineand in derek beaulieu’s No Press.

For three years, Ken served as editor of NoD Magazine, the University of Calgary English Department’s publication of prose, poetry, and visual art. In 2010, Ken co-founded The Scribe and Muse, a University of Calgary club that promotes writing and literacy, offering a free peer-editing service to students across all faculties. Ken lives in Calgary.

1 – When did SPACECRAFT 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?
SPACECRAFT began a few weeks ago, during a meeting with a friend of mine, visual poet and Calgary Poet Laureate derek beaulieu. Beaulieu, who runs his own small press called No Press, suggested that I start my own, since I have a moderate obsession with formatting and typesetting. My original goal was for SPACECRAFT to emulate No Press, in terms of acting as a compact venue for both emerging and established experimental writing to flourish. This goal has not changed. Throughout the process of establishing the press, I have learned, to my pleasant surprise, that there are more writers looking to publish experimental writing inspired by science and technology than I had expected.

2 – What first brought you to publishing?
My affair with publishing began in 2011, when I became the editor of NōD Magazine, a small press publication that has operated out of the English Department at the University of Calgary since 2006. Working for NōD introduced me to a program called Adobe InDesign. Formatting the issues of NōD published during my three years as editor taught me how to use InDesign, which I was consequently able to use to typeset and format my first published book of poetry, Space Administration.

3 – What do you consider the role and responsibilities, if any, of small publishing?
Small publishers should be primarily concerned with presenting the work they choose to promote in the most appropriate way possible. This means maintaining attention to detail, and making formatting choices that accentuate the content of published works in as many ways as possible, whether by reflecting or complementing said content.

4 – What do you see your press doing that no one else is?
I founded SPACECRAFT because I wanted to see more experimental poetry and prose that engages with, or responds to, science and technology. SPACECRAFT exists to provide the authors of such works with a venue uniquely attentive to the nuances of such works. The uniqueness of SPACECRAFT’s publications stems from this attentiveness, from my personal goal to bring out the uniqueness of each work by accentuating content through compelling formatting choices.

5 – What do you see as the most effective way to get new chapbooks out into the world?
Spreading the word about small presses using social media is an excellent way to promote the publication of chapbooks, especially when groups of creative writers, in both academic and broader communities, learn about these presses while browsing.

6 – How involved an editor are you? Do you dig deep into line edits, or do you prefer more of a light touch?
As an editor, I prefer as light a touch as possible. If I ever find what I suspect might be an unintentional departure from grammatical or syntactical consistency in a text, I contact the author of that work before altering the text. In terms of the formatting of the text, I find that the content of a given work usually compels me to make whatever choices I think would best suit that work.

7 – How do your books get distributed? What are your usual print runs?
SPACECRAFT prints either 40 or 50 copies of each chapbook (a single run), depending upon the length of said chapbook (for lengthier prose works, perhaps 30 copies). In any case, the author of a given work receives half of the printed copies of that work, while the remaining copies are sold on SPACECRAFT’s website. This model is based on the way beaulieu conducts print runs with No Press.

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, but often consult my partner Nicole (a graphic design student). The benefits of acting as sole editor include the flexibility of the work, as well as the ability to maintain a consistent vision with respect to how the press formats and publishes chapbooks.

9– How has being an editor/publisher changed the way you think about your own writing?
Learning how to use digital formatting and typesetting software has completely changed how I view my work. This knowledge adds another layer of editing to the process of refining written work. While this often lengthens the process of refinement, it expands writers’ opportunities to not only enhance the evocative effects of their texts, but also to present themselves as individuals whose familiarity with formatting and typesetting can be a positive trait for publishers considering their work.

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?
Refusal to self-publish does not necessarily constitute integrity or virtue, nor does it imply anxiety or reticence. If a publisher puts forth the effort to promote their own work, and that work turns out to lack the compelling or evocative merits that the press advertises, then the embarrassment falls on the self-publishing author rather than the press. If the author is confident that their work will reflect the standards of quality established by the press they run, as well as the personal standards they set for themselves, and they are willing to put forth the effort necessary to promote their work using their press, then then question becomes irrelevant.

11– How do you see SPACECRAFT evolving?
I see SPACECRAFT becoming a hub for experimental writing similar to No Press, the kind of venue that generates shared publicity for its founder and the authors it publishes. I envision SPACECRAFT providing experimental authors interested in writing science and technology with a home for their work, in the same way that No Press does for authors of visual and other genres of experimental poetry and prose.

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 am most proud of the consistency, the evocative strength, and the formatting of my first book of poetry, Space Administration, and of the print quality of the most recent edition. The print quality of the first few copies of the previous edition was frustratingly low, since the original high quality .pdf had to be converted to a word document, which resulted in a significant loss of image quality. I would encourage anyone interested in experimental poetry inspired by science and technology, or in erasure poetry, not to overlook this publication, a free .pdf of which can be obtained here.

13– Who were your early publishing models when starting out?
I based SPACECRAFT on derek beaulieu’s No Press.

14– How does SPACECRAFT work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large? What journals or presses do you see SPACECRAFT in dialogue with? How important do you see those dialogues, those conversations?
I can see SPACECRAFT engaging with No Press, as well as other Calgary-based presses, such as NōD Magazine and Filling Station. These kinds of dialogues are integral to the survival of small presses. When we cooperate, we combine the networks of authors and publishers we have established, creating a larger network that authors and publishers can collectively access.

15– Do you hold regular or occasional readings or launches? How important do you see public readings and other events?
SPACECRAFT does not currently host readings or launches, however I plan to collaborate with presses such as NōD Magazine and Filling Station to promote SPACECRAFT at local readings organized by Flywheel and Single Onion. Regular public readings are important for both authors and publishers, since they provide a form of community engagement that the internet cannot.
16– How do you utilize the internet, if at all, to further your goals?
SPACECRAFT sells its publications online, and also solicits submissions online. We are an online publisher of printed chapbooks.

17– Do you take submissions? If so, what aren’t you looking for?
SPACECRAFT is always seeking submissions of experimental prose and poetry inspired by science and technology. Whether this means that the work was generated using an automated procedure of some sort, operates under a science or technology inspired constraint, engages with scientific or technological language, emerged from a discourse happening within or between certain scientific fields, or some combination of these aspects, SPACECRAFT is interested, so long as the work is experimental, compelling, and evocative.

18– Tell me about three of your most recent titles, and why they’re special.
Three of SPACECRAFT’s upcoming titles are Jade McGregor’s Psychiatric Update: May 10th, an excerpt from Ian Whistle’s Anomaly, and Kevin McPherson Eckhoff’s Time Machine. McGregor’s Psychiatric Update explores the internalized objectification facilitated by technical, clinical discourse, in order to experiment with blurring the distinctions between the disciplines of Creative Writing and Psychology, and between the genres of poetry and prose. Whistle’s excerpt from Anomaly dissects aspects of literary theory using scientific and technical terminology. The consistent strength of the Anomaly series is in Whistle’s use of collage, in the mercurial manner with which the poems wend their way across disparate language, reassembling a rigorous attention to language in order to reflect on and investigate the roles of structure and meaning, even as the order works to deliberately trouble and unsettle. Finally, Eckhoff’s Time Machine is a hot-wiring of The Time Machine by H.G Wells. Eckhoff used an online randomizing program to reorder the sentences in the first chapter of Wells’s canonical text, so that the jumbled sentences of the resulting text perform the act of temporal teleportation central to the original tale.

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