Submission Guidelines: N/A
Interview with Derek Beaulieu, Editor
How did No Press start?
No press started in 2005 after I closed my previous press, housepress (1997-2004). i started housepress in 1997 as a means of circulating work of my own and of my colleagues. as i started reading Canadian poetry, i was really engaged and excited by what i was hearing in terms of some of the small presses in the 60’s and later—especially bpNichol’s grOnk and Ganglia, not to mention later presses which were dedicated to publishing poetry in unusual forms, like damian lopes’s fingerprinting inkoperated and jwcurry’s Curved H&z / 1cent / Industrial Sabotage. the more i looked, dug, and read acknowledgments in books of poetry, the more i saw that a great number of the poets i respected (of many different generations) had presses of their own (from Darren Wershler’s Torque to Christian Bök’s Chromium Dioxide), and this sounded really intriguing. these presses were making some really beautiful books that excited not only my interest in poetry, but also my obsessive collector-mentality (as a kid and adult i have collected a myriad of objects from bottle caps to lego to comic books to small press publications…). by 2004 i had continued to publish small press editions of various sorts—pamphlets, broadsheets, chapbooks, books, boxed editions, and even fig newtons stamped with one word poems (in editions ranging from 5 to 125 copies) by a myriad of poets i had encountered or corresponded with—223 different artists, poets and authors. when i shut down housepress in 2004, it had released 286 different editions. I closed housepress and within 6 months I was missing publishing and started No press.
Tell us a bit about No Press. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
No press is a press of 1—just me—i basically print work that i like, or that has me challenged, confused or bothered. what that has meant is that No press to date has published fiction, poetry, essays, visual poetry, cartoons and sound poetry scores and performances (on CD). the mandate is defined loosely enough to allow it to reflect my reading, and to reflect what may come in. in my opinion, the small press gift economy is one that fosters good will within the community. we look to each other as our first readers, our first editors—with a sense of trust and generosity. in terms of No press, i enjoy sharing discoveries i’ve made in my own reading—if i encounter a text which i think should be read, should be shared with a group of writers—i look to my printer, my needle & thread to take the time to present this manuscript in a way which compliments the time the author took in writing it. the gift economy perhaps in this case is better seen as a trade economy—at its best it is a conversation not a monologue.
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?
i can’t tell you what I have in the works, it’s always changing and transforming based on conversations—but there are plans afoot for editions by Jaap Blonk, Helen Hajnoczky, Natalie Czech and more . . .
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.
in my opinion writing is a public act, we must learn (even the most introverted of us) to share our work with a readership. see our work as worth sharing, our voices as worth hearing. it doesn’t have to be a huge public gesture; it could 10 copies among friends. share. there are a growing number of online print-on-demand publishers like Lulu and Blurb, and many photocopy shops will do collation and binding—but those are far from the only options. anyone who has a desktop printer or access to a photocopier (or a typewriter, or a silkscreen or rubberstamp letters or any number of intriguing possibilities) can produce her own work. paper, printer, stapler, scissors. a challenge to my peers: publish your own work. start a small press. find the material that your colleagues are making that impresses you and publish it in pamphlets, in leaflets, in chapbooks and broadsides, posters and ephemera. it is all too easy to rely on other people to do the work for you—to allow the means of distribution to remain with book publishers, magazines and journals. small press builds community through gifts and exchange, through consideration and generosity, through the creative interplay and dialogue with each other’s work. small press publishing allows authors to present their work in a way that physically responds to the content—texture, size, shape, colour and binding all become aesthetic decisions that the author herself can shape. the internet is rife with instructions on how to hand bind books. make stuff, hand it out, talk to people.
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 No Press?
the numbers are irrelevant, the sales are irrelevant—publishing in this form, to me, is not about financials or profit (if you’re after either you’re in the wrong business). i usually print in editions of between 30-80 copies with the author receiving 1/2 of the edition as ‘payment’—they are free to sell those copies at whatever price they’d like, and keep all the profits (and I will do the same with my 1/2)—that said, I usually sell only a small handful of copies, the rest are given away to intrigued readers.