baseball, poetry, and kim chi

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


My Chapbook is nearing completion. It is really really almost done. I am moving, it is finishing, maybe a poem or two more, then the fat lady sings. so this is what I am thinking. I have it out there at Octopus. Really like to get it published there, but… I don’t like having to sit on it waiting for the most likely "no". There are so many other good publishers of Chaps out there. Kind of want to put it in front of them too. would like to see this project move forward, let someone else take over, let me get back to writing the next sequence. So what is the right move to make?


Blogger Scott Pierce said...

do it yourself or put it in the hands of some friends to do. no need to pretend it's anything more than printed paper folded down the middle. don't buy into the bottleneck.

11:52 AM

Blogger JWG said...


not so sure man. this is what I see. A place like Effing has a few things going for it. First, you make beautiful books, really really nice books. Second, people know and trust Effing, they would buy an Effing book from an author they had never heard of. Third, you, I got to work with you. I got to work with another talented writer who I would not have known otherwise. That means a lot to me. Also means a lot that you liked the work. confidence etc.

I’m not saying that I couldn’t just fold some paper and do this thing, but I don't think it would be as special. Of course, if someone wanted to jump into the project with me, help me publish my work and I would help them publish their work, that would be cool. Need the collaboration. That is important.

10:28 PM


yes. i agree. there is an artform to it. a greater good. read "elergy for a peach" and see another side of farming. read "whole milk" and find another side to literature. all these things we create have worth, because they are built with passion. and that is never just smoke and mirrors.

j- see you in class.

10:34 PM

Blogger JWG said...


wish we were working on the same project.


11:45 PM


j- me too. i love that j humor. will get the interview started up again soon. i promise.

11:31 AM

Blogger Scott Pierce said...

I hear ya. And thanks of course. But, ya know, it really is just me in a room with some materials and some time and a few bucks. There is no "place like Effing." It is just me, some paper, a stitcher, and a cutter. I would love to say that I knew more but I don't, yet here we are. I wonder why there aren't more of me around. It just seems so simple. And this is why I have a half-look of disgust on my face. I can't fathom what the big deal is. Maybe I've seen through the skin of the publishing paradigm, at least at the ground floor, and it's unimpressive. Publishing in it's most basic sense is about reproduction and circulation - about getting the word to the people. Now, as it has been for a long long time, it is about legitimization (pyschologically at least), prestige, and money. None of which are important to us as poets. Or shouldn't be I should think. But perhaps poets and what they're about has changed a lot over time too, and maybe not for the better.

I could write here about how easily people are fooled and just how much the namesake of imprint illogically factors into peoples' desires for publishing.

You writing in English and living in another country makes your situation different. Your audience is in the US and you want to publish there. It makes sense that you'd want a stateside publisher.

But my attitude these days (and remember I had written about this before which is how we met) is to have little to no sympathy for abled-bodied people who pine and burn for someone else to do the labor on a very simple idea.

Sure, I'd imagine it's nice for someone to take on someone else's work and produce the vessel. Definitely nice for someone else to pay for it. And of course it'd be desirable for the thing to look good, at least agreeable to the writer. Of course.

But I get frustrated personally when I get manuscripts in the mail and tell someone a number of reasons why I personally can't produce the book (maybe I don't like it or I have no free time or funds, etc or I'm just tired and don't feel like it) and the response I get is not unlike when a child is told NO you cannot have that cookie. It breaks hearts. And I wonder, how did I, a dude in central Texas, get to be one of a handful of chapbook poetry publishers in the US? Why is the chapbook landscape becoming bottlenecked and squeezed like the trade landscape? I see no reason for this. I do not see where competition comes into chapbook publishing.

I'll reject and I'll encourage the person to send it to others or do it themselves or at least finance it themselves if it means so much to them, and sometimes I'll see their chap come out later by someone else and that is pleasing. But a lot of times I never hear of it coming out or getting produced and I just know that person gave up because some asshole in Texas said no. Silly. I mean c'mon!

What I'm getting at, what bothers me so much, is the sense of desperation that a lot of people have regarding this. That if the handful of known micropublishers won't publish a thing then poets feel like there is nothing they can do. And that diappointment and futility is disheartening to me.

I mean it's not a public service that I do. I do it because I like it and I make no apologies for what I do and don't do. It can end as quickly as it began. That is the best fucking part of being illegitimate, unschooled, un-PC about this. It isn't about nice and pretty and feel good. It's about tough fucking shit in the hearts of people.

I don't owe shit to anyone yet here I am in a fucked up psychology of my own. Do I publish enough women and minorities, do I do enough for the books, should I reach out to more stores and libraries, etc etc.

Sometimes the truth is that I make books so I don't go to jail. Silly? Yes, but very much true!

I'd love it if chapbook publishing took on a more localized function and had more bearing to actual community, i.e. the ones you live around and interact with. But maybe the local isn't ready for poetry or maybe those days are over. No matter.

This bottlenecking seems absurd to me. This day and age with desktop publishing resources right under peoples' noses. Used to be you needed someone with access to equipment or money to finance the use of equipment but that's just not the case today. Most so called presses do not actually have a press or one piece of equipment. Personally, I do not know how to work a real press and that often makes me feel like a fraud.

What you mention in your last paragraph is exactly the way it should be. A collaboration. Not this division of labor like you be poet and I be editor, etc. But YES, you prop me up and I prop you up. That is exciting and that is the point. That is what our poetry heros did.

The body's labor for the book is the extension of the mind's ability to grasp and appreciate the words.

I am glad I get to meet people like yourself by doing what I do. I am glad I've learned to manage things so the books pretty much pay for themselves.

Still though, I wish more people would do it too. And that the chapbook as literature is designed for immediate dispersal and conversation. Not for posterity.

However that can happen. Forget websites and press names and logos and book sales.

words + parchment

from my hands to yours. It is so bloody simple.

5:01 PM

Blogger Scott Pierce said...

after all that screed i failed to mention my own wish for my projects to find homes with other publishers. and my reasons and desires for doing so are like yours and everyone's. beyond validation etc, it is BEING ALIVE to work with others in various roles. collective publishing is something to consider. like 10 people make a commitment of energy, attention, and a little funding to each others work and imagine what could be done in a year or two.

maybe harder said than done to keep that together over a year or more but I admire that method of publishing. Subpress is a good model for that. The about page at the Subpress site says

"Subpress is a collective that is supported by nineteen members who have agreed to donate 1% of their yearly income for three years. Each person is responsible for editing one book. A lottery determined the editing order."

This inspires.

10:10 AM

Blogger shanna said...

hear hear, scott, cheer cheer!

8:16 AM


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