“An Investigative Process”

Remarks from Carolee Campbell of Ninja Press

Q: 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)?

CC: Making and publishing books is strictly an investigative process for me, investigating and stretching my own technical, creative, and intellectual boundaries. I neither consider the readership in my selection of projects nor the resulting book forms.

Q: 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?

CC: Poetry is a distillation of word and imagery not found in prose, a boiling down, the alchemical gold lump that remains behind. It holds me in its thrall throughout the process of the design and distillation process, not to mention the long nuts-and-bolts process of setting type, proofing, printing, and binding.

I don’t approach poetic projects differently. I always approach them in the same way—investigatively—its a digestive process—through the metaphorical gut. First, I begin to set some type to see what it might look like. Simultaneously, I begin working on models for the structure of the book. I try materials I know well and investigate risky new ones. I investigate techniques for building the book structure that will reflect my response to the poetry it holds. As my experience of the word deepens, each successive book model will mirror that shift to the limits of my technical skills.


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