Publishers’ Roundtable: Getting Started

To begin the preliminary on line component of The Publishers’ Roundtable, publishers were invited to engage in an e-mail conversation, considering the following list of questions as well as any addition issues and concerns raised by members of the group.

This preliminary dialogue is not intended to exhaust any topic or preempt the conference Roundtable in any way. Instead, it will provide an opportunity to shape to the conference conversation by allowing Roundtable Publishers as well as conference attendees to begin posing questions, voicing opinions, and mapping some of the primary subjects of concern in advance of the conference. The conversation will continue in person at the Metaphor Taking Shape: Poetry, Art, and the Book conference on March 13 and 14, 2008.

Excerpts from the electronic dialog will be posted periodically in the weeks leading up the conference.

Publishers’ Roundtable: Some Preliminary Questions

*How does your choice of publishing model (livre d’artiste / luxury edition model, handcraft / fine press model, low-cost / higher distribution model, etc.) shape the meaning of the book works your press produces? How does the printing or binding method affect the reader’s understanding of (as well as experience of) a text? What is the relationship of the process and the product?

*How do you balance artwork and text in your books? What is the importance of this balance? What are the different effects of the variety of relationships that might exist between art and poetry in the book format (consider the difference between poetry-art books in which images are used to “illustrate” a text, those in which a text is used to accent artwork, those that aim to more fully integrate the two art forms, etc.)?

*How do you select artwork and poetry that will be published together in one volume? What are your primary criteria for each art form? Which comes first in your selection or publication planning process—image or text?

*What is your sense of your press’s readership? Who is your intended reader? How do your readers figure in your understanding of the total “meaning” of any individual book you’ve published? What role does your sense of your readers play in your publishing decisions (selecting texts, images, publishing model, etc)?

*What are the book’s strengths and limitations as a format for uniting poetry and art? How does your press manage the limitations and maximize the strengths?

*Does poetry provide particular opportunities /challenges for interaction with artwork that might not be available if you were working with prose? How do you approach poetic projects differently? Does the poetic line function differently in the context of an image-rich book than the prose line or sentence?

*What is the primary motivation for your poetry-art presswork? In other words, why do you publish poetry and art books?

*What, if any, role does collaboration play in your press’s mission, work, publications, etc.?

*What makes a successful union of poetry and art in a book?



One Response to “Publishers’ Roundtable: Getting Started”

  1. Buzz Spector Says:

    Between 1975-88 I produced various editioned works, books among them, under the heading “The Press of Events.” I conceived of this operation as a rubric under which the reference to publishing was joined to performative gestures. The best known of these was MEMORIES, a boxed set of 12 pencils, each embossed with a line of my poetry, but there was also PRESS, a set of nine rubber stamps with ream of paper, MEDALS, a set of six metal disks with stamped text, and two books: the first of these, published in 1987, was DOUBLE READINGS, in offset edition, containing various dustjacket photographs of authors, portions of the blurbs from their books, and installation views of my installation of found stacked books at Chicago’s Randolph St. Gallery. The next year I published ON THE CAPE, a collaboration with my friend, the poet Reagan Upshaw.
    We were vacationing together in 1987, with our families, in Orleans, at the elbow of Cape Cod, and set ourselves the task of writing the words and drawing the pictures for a chapbook. My efforts at the time were rather desultory; I carried my paper, pencils, and bottles of ink to the bayside beach each day and drew such detritus as washed up in my immediate vicinity while watching the Upshaw daughters at play. I’m still found of my ink drawings of a dead stingray and the silhouettes of bathers against a sunset, but none of the drawings I made in Orleans appear in the published book. When Upshaw sent me his finished writing, some six months later, the eloquence and scope of the poem seemed to require something more expansive than those sketches; instead, I used collaged bits and pieces of old Cape Cod postcards, plus a single drawing in the book’s center, a brushy ink on paper copy after one of Mondrian’s early versions of “Pier + Ocean.” I superimposed this on a found photoreproduction of a ship’s wake receding toward the horizon with seagulls gliding overhead.
    I frequently made reference to the art of De Stijl in my studio practice of the time; visual paraphrase, in collage/paintings, from Van Doesburg, Van Der Leck, Mondrian, and, most often, Georges Vantongerloo. The historicism verging on nostalgia in that work is present, perhaps best of all, on those pages of ON THE CAPE.

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