Interview with Jeremiah Walton and Christopher Morgan
How did Nostrovia! Press start?
N!’s been around for a minute—since 2011, in Jeremiah’s Junior year of high school w/ the narcissistic publication of a long-buried collection titled “Nostrovia!”
Our momentum clocked in with mileage. Jeremiah stuck his thumb out in 2013 & took the press with him. Libraries & cafes served wifi, & he bopped from open mic to open mic, busking on street corners, kicking with different poetry + art communities across the country distributing our titles.
This tied into our early ramshackle tendencies. The road doesn’t give a damn for deadlines. The immediate moment ripped clocks from wrists. This rolled thru w/ the launch of Books & Shovels, our traveling bookstore debuting at the 2014 NYC Poetry Festival & touring thru to a Kansas intersection car accident, out front of where Burroughs died, totaling the vehicle to a cocktail of fluids leaking its way to our new home: a Walmart parking lot. Luck came by a couple days later, & an honest mechanic dropped us a new ride cheap, setting us off thru dark Kansas highway lit w/ purple lightening weaving flashes of sight thru desolate fields snagged dark in a blink. We nestled into Denver, murky August sweat clinging clothes to skin. Being lil green horns, we fumbled thru being broke getting broker. A predictable lack of shows & a retreat east chased Jeremiah’s frustration w/ getting B&S rolling strong. However prepared, whether or not whatever you deem success follows, the road always wins.
N! didn’t settle into much structure till our Chapbook Contest kicked off in 2015 w/ Christopher Morgan joining up as co-manager. We collectively manage irl + digital responsibilities more fluidly between texts and long phone calls, snubbing out a lil bit of that on-the-road jankyness.
Christopher’s background in publishing & editing + Jeremiah’s background in confused asphalt sunrises & event coordination make for some interesting cocktails. We’re pushing N!‘s growth w/ that weird-word patience, hoping to continue growing as an empowering amp for our communities.
Our zine, Fuck Art, Let’s Dance, has transitioned into a bi-annual publication. Our 2015 tours wrapped from Beast Crawl Oakland to the New York City Poetry Festival to Lit Crawl San Francisco, & our 2016 Chapbook Contest was fatter w/ submissions & trust, hitting Tucson’s Poetry Festival to Boog City Brooklyn Lit Fest to Tucson & back to New York City for their poetry festival, to Denver for This Lil Lit Fest, back down to our desert home before launching East for a tour of the South & back again for Lit Crawl San Francisco w/ “The Arts Resistance.”
We started out of a framepack & computer screen tight-roping language, trying to figure out what can’t be said & how to say it. I guess the ramble can be summed up with—narcissism leading to boredom leading to community leading to fulfillment.
Tell us a bit about Nostrovia!. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
To embrace our writers & push accessible Passionate Living > Making a Living. To create spaces people are comfortable with being vulnerable.
Everything is donation-based, from the chaps to Books & Shovels. We have a lotta new noise rolling out 2017’s slashed up red carpet collaged to suit our changing schemes & projects, but we’re remaining consistent w/ making sure N! is a space of cross-country collaboration.
Love to Beach Sloth for awarding us a 2016 Beachie for “Best Punk Rock Poets.” Calling yourself punk kills punk, right? What’s more punk than that? Self-love? That great solitude of being?
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?
Well, we’re planning to hit the Tucson Poetry Festival + launch a Midwest tour at Kansas City Poetry Throwdown thru Michigan City / Detroit / Cleveland + Death Rattle in Boise, Idaho. So Books & Shovels will be making some rounds once we pick up our books in Miami (bit of a story from the last tour—the Everglades bit back).
Fuck Art, Let’s Dance will have open arms this year for two issues. Our Chapbook Contest will be bopping itself open sometime within the beginning of the year for its 48-hour submission window once again.
We’ve come to settle in Tucson with desert stars, coyotes, baked bones & Holy Mothers, poets & sidewalks—all this making for home. Out here, we’re coordinating events, like a No Más Muertes Variety Benefit—a blend of hip-hop + poetry to fundraise $$ for humanitarian borderlands aid organization No Más Muertes (No More Deaths). The show went phenomenal—raising over $500 for NMM & gathering beautiful artists together to show support.
We’re coordinating foundations to throw future benefits + shows, like collaborative hip-hop + poetry gigs, punk shows, blues & jazz, riot grrrl, photo assemblies, collage nights, fetish shows, corny conversations w/ the moon.
We’ll see. The road made for a good teacher, instilling the importance of malleability—to be able to move freely as we explore & fuck up & reassemble & learn. Room to breathe.
& OH YEAH !! Our blog outlet Nostrovia! Tavern is being remodelled to accept column + article + interview pitches 🙂
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.
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 Nostrovia! Press?
We cope via scrambling. As for fees: we keep all of the publishing expenses on our side of the fence since accessibility is our target. Submissions to our online mag and Chapbook Contest are both free. We give print copies to anyone who writes a review, donate chaps to various festivals, and sell through our traveling bookstore & our online store using a “pay-what-you-can” system.
Of course, this system isn’t commercially strong, but making a profit isn’t our goal. In the interest of honest numbers, last year’s chapbook contest ran us just over 2 grand (that’s including everything: supplies, printing, promo, shipping, store costs, etc), but we managed to earn most of that back!
But even if we face a minor loss, the cost is absolutely worth it when we consider the happiness of our writers and readers. What we do pays in fulfillment. It’s intrinsic labor. It’s love.