Submission Guidelines: “We don’t really have one. The new book, itemised below, merely came on the internet via email. It cost the price of a small car to produce, and will take five years to sell. If they want you, they’ll find you.”
Interview with Simon Cutts, Founder
How did Coracle start?
Coracle grew out of the geographical separation of Stuart Mills and myself, when I moved to London, and he stayed in Nottingham where we had run Tarasque Press from the Trent Bookshop since the mid sixties. It was now 1975, and I thought I ought to start a new press from what had gone before, and with a firm noun object for a name.
Tell us a bit about Coracle. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
Mission is too high falutin these days. The influences are the object of the book itself, in a Platonic objecthood kind of way, and the formality of completing even a small categorisation within its covers. The aesthetic is reductive, editorial, and cutting the flab in a Poundian sort of way.
Can you give us a preview of what’s current and/or forthcoming from your catalog, as well as what you’re hoping to publish in the future?
Peal. Randall Couch. Coracle 2017.
Syntax is to word order as melody is to note order. Peal explores the analogy of melody and syntax by applying the methods of bell change ringing to rows of words: poetic lines. Each individual poem begins with a line of four to nine nonrepeating words. That line is then permuted according to one of the methods, resulting in anywhere from 12 to 240 unique variations. By convention, the word corresponding to the heaviest working bell is coloured blue (the “blue line”) and the word corresponding to the treble or highest-pitched bell is coloured red. The starting lines—all quotations—form the cento that opens the book, where their inflections evoke thematic relationships. Their permutations create distinctive visual patterns as well as frequent semantic surprises. The methods have been chosen with an eye to the associations created by juxtaposing their names with the corresponding starting lines. 144pp 235 x 170mm, casebound with headbands, printed three-colour offset. Typography by Colin Sackett, and perhaps one of the most elaborate of Coracle productions. 300 copies. €40.00
We used to ask, “What about small/independent press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?” We’re still interested in the answer to that, but we’re even more interested to know what you think needs to change.
I no longer have an overview, but remain devoted to small press publishing as a means of getting something done. I’ve sort of written about all this in my Some Forms of Availability from 2007.
How do you cope? There’s been a lot of conversation lately about charging reading fees, printing costs, rising book costs, who should pay for what, etc. Do you have any opinions on this, and would you be willing to share any insights about the numbers at Coracle?
Coracle remains out of the way, probably as a kind of underground press, with no interest in the success models put out by consumerism. It’s really a question of persistence and stamina. And of honing the means of production over the years, so that you come to know about paper and processes, and where to get what you need. In the early years you have to get on the road and sell books, get to know librarians and bookshops, and make the best kind of books you can. Then hopefully you will accumulate a backlist which you can pick from to show people the variety of your production. I spend most of my time now tailoring a list of Coracle books for a library or new bookseller who wants to try them, but you have to have a backlist. I’ve always found it easier to talk to people and sell them books than do endless applications to liberal arts organisations who are not really interested in what you do.