We went and started a very small press.
Looking back, everything was growing toward it: the residencies, readings, workshops. What launched the effort, though, was more of a lark: over beers, I spoke with a friend about putting out a chapbook series. He agreed: it'd be fun. So I asked a few other people—people that might be able to help—and they were keen on the idea, too. To guarantee full creative ownership, we decided to do it ourselves. Not uncommon.
But so now here we are in early June, after several weeks of planning and collaboration, with the fruits of that labor: Woodbridge Farm Books' first title, "One Thing Leads to Another: An Essay on Collage," by the brilliant, GG Award-winning author Diane Schoemperlen. It's the first in the aforementioned series that we're calling Marginalia: Authors on Their Pastimes & Hobbies. Four of us hand-bound the books, which resemble very fine pamphlets, over a beautiful Sunday afternoon. When the job was done, we went for a swim in the lake and grilled hamburgers.
The edition turned out beautifully thanks to two amazing women: Diane, who not only wrote a captivating (and occasionally quite funny) essay on how collage making influenced her vocation as a writer, and vice versa, but also included original, black and white interior illustrations (including of her own work); and talented Windsor-based artist Julia "Julie" Hall, who designed, hand-lettered, and illustrated the cover. The generous use of negative space is something Julie's known for. Fits the tone of the series perfectly.
It's often easy to overlook the particular genius of professional typesetters. Most people just recognize bad typesetting; and then often only in an abstract sense: the page doesn't look quite right, or looks cheap, messy. That's not the case here. The reason—the reason for this project's realization, really—is thanks to my friend Chris Andrechek, a master of interior book design. Again: clean, minimalist, perfect.
For now, it's hard to imagine publishing anything more grand than these crisp, hand-made items. At least for the foreseeable future. The cost of running a small press—both in terms of time and money—is far greater than I'd care to spend. My focus is on my writing. But we'll see.
Might sound like hedging. It isn't. Just being careful what we wish for. Because, listen: this fun, collaborative effort, which is currently quite manageable, offers all the pleasures of publishing without many of the downsides. In other words: no throat-clenching heartbreak, all the joy of bringing a thing to life. We're starting small, devoted to quality.
You can buy our very first edition here. All are signed, and the first 20 copies come with Diane's colorful bookmarks. Each one is unique.
This Sunday marks the year's first big lawn party of the summer. Biblioasis, which appears on the verge of becoming a medium-sized press (with all the acclaimed authors and books needed to carry that prestigious, hard-won designation) will be there to launch Diane's latest book, First Things First: Early and Uncollected Stories. She'll be joined by our friends Marty Gervais, the Poet Laureate of Windsor (and memoirist, historian, publisher, photographer, journalist—the list of his talents goes on and on); and D.A. "Daniel" Lockhart, another local, multi-class literary star: poet, author, publisher.
You can find details on the party here. If you're around, I hope you'll come and celebrate Biblioasis' launch with us, and enjoy the day.