Interview with Adam Tedesco, Co-Editor
How did Reality Beach start?
Reality Beach began with Anna Kreienberg and I workshopping with Bernadette Mayer. A little more than a year ago, we had the idea to bring some of what we experience in our time with our poetry matriarch out into the literary world. A crystallization of this experience might be the word aggregation. This is to say we wanted to build something defined not through the act of deletion, as seems to be the zeitgeist.
At first, we thought we’d just publish chapbooks and broadsides. We were, and still are, very much in love with the book Partyknife by Dan Magers. This is a book we were willing to form a church around. We contacted Dan and asked if he had a chapbook he’d like to publish with us. This began a conversation between us about what publishing meant and how to do it. Dan has an amazing chapbook press of his own, Immaculate Disciples, and graciously mentored us through the production process. Parallel to this, Anna and I knew we’d need a website to promote what we were doing, and came to the conclusion that if we were going to have a website, it would best serve our goals to have an online journal as well. Our goals being that crystal of experience.
Tell us a bit about Reality Beach. What are your influences, your aesthetic, your mission?
My idea of reality, and subsequently poetry, has been forcibly shaped by mystical experience and political work.
In January 2006, a 17-year-old boy zipped himself into a tent in his father’s garage in Newark, Delaware, lit a charcoal grill, and asphyxiated himself. He left behind a note which included the sentence We are all just grains of sand on reality beach.
The birds in Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights are an influence. 0 to 9 is an influence. Birds, LLC is an influence. Fuck You is an influence. Getting kicked out of many bars and clubs in New York in the late 90s is an influence. [out of nothing] is an influence. Diane di Prima’s Revolutionary Letters are an influence. The Brotherhood of Eternal Love is an influence. The joy on my children’s faces as they dance to a Flo Rida song is an influence. d.a. levy is an influence. “Not Knowing” is an influence. Being in a grindcore band when I was 14 is an influence. The video for “Genius of Love” is an influence. You are an influence, as are all of our beautiful friends.
It’s extremely difficult to define an aesthetic from its interior, but some benchmarks we’ve used are the lighting design used in the video for Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages,” the scene in Independence Day where the White House gets blown up, I Like America and America Likes Me by Joseph Beuys, “Big Belt Buckles” by Dara Wier, Omni magazine covers, DJ Micah’s Music of Mind Control, The Dream House, the brainwashing scene in The Parallax View, Piero Heliczer’s Joan of Arc, the work of the Misty Poets, the Process magazine, and bad guided meditation tapes.
Our mission is to continue to exist in an ever-evolving form for as long as feasible. We’ve just brought on three new poetry editors for the journal, Lydia Hounat, Jordan Hoxsie, and Precious Okoyomon, as well as a video editor, Julia Madsen. We are very excited about this step and where it will lead us.
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?
We have a new issue coming out any day now, with a package of 11×17 broadsides by S. Cearley to follow shortly thereafter. Throughout this year and into early 2018 we plan to release chapbooks by Anthony Robinson, Tony Mancus, Alex Cuff, Precious Okoyomon, Jessie Janeshek, Joe Milazzo, CM Keehl, Julia Madsen and others. We have plans beyond that, some of which involve mushrooms.
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.
We are excited by a lot of things, mainly things with a DIY approach, like Mass Love Distro, Be About It, Varsity Goth, and Ghost City Press. And things done out of passion, like Unknown Press, Lithic Books and Press, Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop, and Shivastan Press and Poetry Ashram.
Thinking about change like Think About Those Whose Suffering You’re Able To Transcend At The Expense Of, or More Jenny Holzer, Less Marina Abramovic, or More Psychic TV, Less Reality TV, or More Black Block, Less Black Book, or More Anger is an Energy, Less Chill, and More Listening, Less White Fragility, and how about Identity and Structural Politics are One in the Same, and Maybe We Should All Abandon the Proving Grounds of Fascism Because If We Can’t Function Outside Of Them What’s That Say About 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 Reality Beach?
My father’s name is Fiore, which means flowers. His nickname is Fee. He thought about getting a license plate that said THEFEMAN but realized that phonetically reads as Thief Man. Somehow I think that applies here.
Anna and I pay for Reality Beach because publishing poetry we love is a privilege. It is the goal unto itself. We try to make things at a margin the allows us to fund the next project. I realize this model doesn’t work for everyone but will add that I am not in the least bit flippant about the money and privilege necessary to work in this way. We make very real sacrifices in order to do so, but we’re not looking for a medal. We realize that for marginalized people, those sacrifices necessary are exponentially greater. I’d like to draw a distinction between truly independent presses and academically affiliated presses. Not to say amazing work isn’t published by academically affiliated presses, but it’s much easier to understand why a press working outside of those systems would require assistance. There’s no perfect solution within a capitalist framework.
Recent releases from Reality Beach: