This is the forty-eighth in Entropy’s small press interview series, where we ask editors about their origins, their mission, and what it’s like to run a press. Find the other interviews from this series in our Small Press Database here and under the Resources tab at the top of the page.
Interview with Devin Johnston, Editor
How did Flood Editions start?
Flood Editions was founded in Chicago in 2001 by Michael O’Leary and Devin Johnston. The press is an enterprise of friendship and enthusiasm. Our first books were Ronald Johnson’s The Shrubberies and Pam Rehm’s Gone to Earth. From the beginning, our design director (and friend) Jeff Clark was an essential part of the process.
Tell us a bit about Flood Editions. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
From the start our focus has been poetry, primarily work that might be described as modernist, but far-flung and eclectic. Our sixty-odd books include British and Australian poets; translations from ancient Chinese, Greek, and Persian; innovative new work alongside lost modernist classics; the living and the dead. In this way we hope to find new paths to the present. Our mission is to present such work in finely made yet affordable editions.
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?
Certainly! We recently published two volumes by Australian poets: Robert Adamson’s Net Needle and Ali Cobby Eckermann’s Ruby Moonlight. Adamson just finished a North American tour, and he has been described in the Times Literary Supplement as “one of the finest Australian poets at work today.” Ruby Moonlight is a narrative poem of frontier violence and colonization in nineteenth-century Australia. It won The Age Book of the Year, and it is actually the first volume of Aboriginal Australian poetry published in North America. It’s a powerful book that traveled a long way to reach us.
Later this month we will publish Playtime by William Fuller, full of deadpan memoranda and dark parables. In September we will be publishing John Tipton’s translation of Seven against Thebes by Aeschylus, and later in the fall, Graham Foust’s Time Down to Mind.
What about small/independent press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
There’s a strong appreciation these days for a wide variety of poetry, and for the book as an object: in other words, things that concern us.
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 Flood Editions?
We have a devoted readership and an interesting back list. As a nonprofit organization, we receive support from contributors and occasional grants.