Inpatient melds the plastic with the parchment, publishing works that emphasize materiality, ephemerality, transgression, and redemption in form and in content.
Michael Anzuoni is editor-in-chief of Inpatient and is a translator of Enzio de Kiipt, author of several rediscovered Romaunces. His work has been featured in Tagvverk, GaussPDF, Packet, Imperial Matters, and many other fine venues.
1 – When did Inpatient Press first start? How have your original goals as a publisher shifted since you started, if at all? And what have you learned through the process?
Rory Hamovit (roryhamovit.com) and I ‘started it up’ in the fall of 2013. Originally we were publishing our friends mostly, because we were surrounded by strange, talented people who had a hard time with traditional modes of publication. We did that for about a year and then realized we needed to expand.
The approach since has been to find any work thats contradictory and complicated and not easily categorized. When people tell me they have a hard time finding somewhere to publish their work, I say send it here. That’s how we got Laura Warman’s book and I think it’s one of the greatest things ever written. Probably.
2 – What first brought you to publishing?
Matvei from UDP spoke at my school when I was just a poetaster, feeling rather burnt out. And the community he described, the processes and creation and originality involved in bookmaking…it completely rejuvenated me. I remember buying so many of their chaps, books, and 6x6 issues, wondering how they were made. I lived in this shitty old Sears catalogue house that inexplicably had beautiful leather bound books in a glass cabinet, never touched and one night I got incredibly stoned on opium-snakes-in-the-grass and took them apart by firelight and like, tried to reverse engineer them I guess.
So the form of the book was my primary interest at first, but then I realized that I ought to direct this passion, that I should create in this world the books I wanted to read and hold in my hand and fall asleep next to. And then Rory called me and it began.
3 – What do you consider the role and responsibilities, if any, of small publishing?
I’m not one for absolute maxims but if you hear a small voice crying out in the darkness you should listen to what it says.
4 – What do you see your press doing that no one else is?
Affordable, ergonomic, and stylish coffee table books that not only generate conversation, but true Dogen-like knowledge of self. Get your copy now. http://inpatientpress.bigcartel.com/product/before-by-abraham-adams
5 – What do you see as the most effective way to get new books out into the world?
Getting your famous friends to talk about them at parties.
6 – How involved an editor are you? Do you dig deep into line edits, or do you prefer more of a light touch?
I review and read everything but my edits are holistic - I’m keen to toss a whole chapter or poem - whereas our esteemed editor Daniel Schwartz is surgical. His attention to detail is immaculate and catches things on the first read I didn’t get after ten. He is like a tunnel rat, digging deep into the dank-ness of language and pulling out the errant chunks of cheese he finds therein. He has been Employee of the Month since we started, basically.
7 – How do your books get distributed? What are your usual print runs?
So far we have been distributing them ad-hoc by hand. I’m quite literally a traveling salesman. I have a green suitcase from the seventies that I schlep the books around with, I sleep on my friend’s futons, it’s great.
150 is a pretty standard first run for books. Laura’s and Rin’s chapbooks have both sold over two hundred copies from initial runs of 50. Most of that was done at book fairs and within the span of few hours. I remember one of our authors, Cassie, sat at our table at the Brooklyn Book Festival (weird place) and watched as something like fifteen straight people bought her book. And then nothing for hours. And then five more. The economics of demand fascinate me.
8 – How many other people are involved with editing or production? Do you work with other editors, and if so, how effective do you find it? What are the benefits, drawbacks?
Inpatient wouldn’t exist without Rory Hamovit and Dan Schwartz, who are my partners and blood brothers. It is incredibly effective and wouldn’t have it any other way. I endlessly recommend hiring these two people at incredibly high salaries to anyone who is listening.
9– How has being an editor/publisher changed the way you think about your own writing?
I can’t remember where I read it or who said it, but since the winter of 2014 a sentence scrolls in my head like a marquee and its something like, “One form of a great publisher is the failed writer who knows the real thing when they see it.”
So I try to seize upon that.
10– How do you approach the idea of publishing your own writing? Some, such as Gary Geddes when he still ran Cormorant, refused such, yet various Coach House Press’ editors had titles during their tenures as editors for the press, including Victor Coleman and bpNichol. What do you think of the arguments for or against, or do you see the whole question as irrelevant?
I don’t publish my own named writing except as a joke shared between friends, like I listed ‘Inpatient’ as the publisher of this bible I made where I replaced every instance of the world ‘father’ with ‘daddy’ (http://www.lulu.com/shop/mitch/the-daddy-bible/paperback/product-22903748.html ) but that’s not really ‘publishing’ in the way that’s meaningful to me or other people although it is interesting academically as an overloading of the term. But it’s not what Inpatient set out to do with ‘publishing’, that is, recognizing and championing new as well as overlooked works and devoting time, money, and resources to their vision.
That being said, if your entire ‘press’ is a self-publishing operation, I think that’s fine, that’s just artistic practice and branding. But when you involve other people, the act of publishing necessarily becomes political and self-publishing can seem, well, self-serving in some contexts. I think the whole point of the small press movement, if there is one, is to champion and embrace each other, not ourselves.
11– How do you see Inpatient Press evolving?
We are in the process of laying out an erotica rag right now called IMPATIENT.
The cover is unbelievable. I look at it when I feel dejection and find the most resolute truth in it.
Consolidating more material on a more regular schedule is our future goal. Ian Hatcher did this piece for us called Private. It is four layers of transparency sheets, each inscribed with a different poem. When you lay them on top of each other, it forms a whole new transparent poem. You can rearrange and relayer, it’s so hard to photograph because it’s literally floating text. I want to make dozens more of those, each by a different artist playing with the mode of transparency. It could be a monthly thing we mail out. $10 a month.
12– What, as a publisher, are you most proud of accomplishing? What do you think people have overlooked about your publications? What is your biggest frustration?
I woke feeling incredibly depressed in I think it was March of this year, absolutely dreary day and I was sitting in the subway and I got an email, it was a forwarded message from Laura from a young woman in the midwest about how much her book had helped her and it was one of the most beautiful and true things I think I have ever read in my life. I felt very humbled and immediately the depression was lifted. Whenever I am sad about a review getting pulled or see a piece online that I love not getting the respect I feel it deserves, I reread that email.
13– Who were your early publishing models when starting out?
Olympia was and still is the gold standard for me. Except we pay our authors.
14– How does Inpatient Press work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large? What journals or presses do you see Inpatient Press in dialogue with? How important do you see those dialogues, those conversations?
Wonder, Laura Warman, and Inpatient all just pooled together to make a bunch of cute taupe-colored bags that say “SEX WITHOUT FEAR IMPOSSIBLE” on them. I think that’s been the most successful dialogue so far.
15– Do you hold regular or occasional readings or launches? How important do you see public readings and other events?
All of our books get launch events / parties. For Before we held it at Dominique Levy gallery and then ate pizza in the park with champagne.
We hold semi-regular readings at this old diner in Brooklyn, the Sunview Lunchnet. Last reading was Mystery Guest, Rin Johnson, and Laura Warman. The next one is November 11th, a Friday, where we have Andrea Arrubla, Diana Hamilton, and Conor Messinger. The readings are low-key, but we try to generate unique literature to give out at each one so the event is a ‘publication’ in of itself. Rory is an amazing bartender. We don’t have a name for the series but if I had to choose one right now I would call it “Disaster is an anthropomorphic term”.
16– How do you utilize the internet, if at all, to further your goals?
We host an ongoing exhibit of webworks on our online plexus, inpatientpress.com. Conor Messinger did the most recent one, a series of terminal gif poems and they are just mesmerizing.
17– Do you take submissions? If so, what aren’t you looking for?
For print, right now we are only looking for submissions to our porno rag. Please send them to email@example.com
Online, we are always looking for new material, the more experimental the better. We especially appreciate translations of obscure or unheralded authors.
18– Tell me about three of your most recent titles, and why they’re special.
We just released Before by Abraham Adams, which has been described as a “low key masterpiece” by many a book fair browser, and honestly there is little else like it. It is a coffee table book consisting of only the before pictures from before and after photographs. But they take on an apocalyptic character, because there is no resolution. There is only before, no after. That’s it. It’s the end. And so you have these images of people in swimsuits, panoramas of buildings and cities, and you have no idea what happened, why they were befores. You only know what once was.
“Before” that, we put out two incredible and hysterical chapbooks, Nobody Sleeps Better Than White People by Rin Johnson and How To Become A Lesbian by Laura Warman. They are the latest releases in our Agent Provocateur series, glossy chaps with transparency and/or vellum covers that deal with questions of the self and society. These are just honestly two of the funniest texts I’ve read but also heartbreaking. I remember Rin saying that we should do I think we put out Rin’s in like a week, so fast it would make your head spin. And they are both still selling very well, probably our two most popular items. I mean that’s probably because we price them at $5 each so they are very affordable for the lifetime of wisdom they provide. And that’s what Inpatient is all about, the convenient transfer of extra-oracular knowledge.
12 or 20 (small press) questions;
Sunday, December 04, 2016
Saturday, December 03, 2016
As you most likely know, we recently held our latest edition of the semi-annual ottawa small press fair, and I returned home with nearly as much as I left with (of course). Given such, here are a couple of items I picked up at our recent fair.
Oh, and you’ve seen my notes on what I picked up at the Meet the Presses event over the prior weekend, yes?
Cobourg/Toronto ON: I am curious about Those problems (Proper Tales Press, 2016), the “first book in English” by Toronto/Buenos Aires poet, translator and journalist Sarah Moses. I’m (obviously) aware of editor/publisher Ross’ interest in a variety of flavours of surrealism, but Moses’ work feels different, working a relatively straight narrative that, before you realize, has already turned and twirled out behind you.
He is in love with his words. With the words he choses and how he combines them and what the combinations mean to him and what he hopes they mean to others. Lying awake late at night, he thinks about them, obsesses over them. He feels they hold great, mysterious truths about the world. He is driven to share these truths and, during the day, on street corners and park benches, he says his words out loud to mothers pushing strollers and lawyers on lunch breaks and joggers in spandex. When they walk by, he takes his words, rolls them around his mouth, and then spits them out carefully as though they were precious pearls he could string together with his lips.
There is something in Moses’ work that is reminiscent, also, of Inger Wold Lund’s first English-language publication, Leaving Leaving Behind Behind (Brooklyn NY: Ugly Duckling Press, 2015) [see my review of such here]. There are some really lovely and wonderful pieces in here, some of which appeared in her Spanish-language title as they say (Buenos Aires, Argentina: Socios Fundadores, 2016). Might a full-length English volume be far behind? I can certainly hope.
Nothing is required of you
Well, maybe a few things. Good neighbourliness, for example. By this I mean that you take care of the fairy ring and webbing on your property. That you take care not to throw household items, such as spatulas or other kitchen implements, on mine. Take care of your front porch and your gutters, especially after a downpour, especially in early June, when the downpours are frequent and forceful. The hedges, don’t forget to trim them. Make sure to keep your budgerigars well fed and in good spirits. If you borrow my unicycle without my knowing, as I know you have done, please take care to use gloves. Take care to cooperate with the forces of eternal law. When you engage in wireless communication, both within your home and without it, do so with care. If you are outdoors, with something to say, take especial care when you say it: project your voice, choose the appropriate words, and be sure to enunciate.
Kingston/Ottawa ON: I find writer Sacha Archer’s new chapbook, Dishwashing Event Part Two: Ontario (Puddles of Sky, 2016) a rather odd and intriguing project. Following his earlier chapbook, Dishwashing Event, Part One: Tianjin, China (Calgary AB: No Press, 2016), he writes that the poems that make up this small collection “are the linguistic offshoot of my daily dishwashing.” He continues:
A speech recognition program translated, transformed the noise of my dishwashing into words recorded by the speech recognition program into a document in Microsoft Word. Each poem records one day’s bout of washing. When I was finished scrubbing and rinsing the dishes (a banal and even burdensome chore), the dishware was found clean and stacked in the dishrack, while in the vicinity a poem had accumulated, had accrued. And an event had ended. What was formerly a banal and even burdensome chore in an ordinary kitchen, had been transformed by the presence of a listening, a gathering in of (potentially) my every move and grunt, the running water of the tap, the friction of my body and dishes, dishes and other surfaces, (a siren in the distance?). Standing in a transformed event zone, it was to feel how different the same could be.
I find the poems inside intriguing, for their shape, sound, visuals and even the larger project, but the tone in which he writes about the daily task of dishwashing a bit strange—a “banal and even burdensome chore”—as though there is something unpleasant about one of the most basic of daily tasks, and even removing the meditative and even honourable considerations of daily household tasks. How do such essential daily requirements become so troublesome, and how does, as he suggests, the turning of such into poetry somehow salvage from difficulty? How are the poems “above” such “mundane” work?
And in two and then an if each each in in the day it must touch to come to rest each day in and of and the each day to day to day in this case as if it just to each of the end of an to talk to the De to the to do and to 1010 in an of and tend to an to an an if in fact to 10 to do just that if to do to an and to fifth
And I would like to see more from Jessica Rowlands, who supplies “the concrete poetry which appears on the cover and throughout the book.” I would very much like to see more. Please.
Friday, December 02, 2016
[the announcement and presentation of the annual bpNichol Chapbook Award]
See parts one here and two here. Might there be more? Probably, given how much I returned home with. I’m hoping soon to start making notes, as well, on some of the items I gathered at our more-recent ottawa small press book fair…
Toronto/Ottawa ON: From editor/publisher (and poet) Maureen Scott Harris comes Ottawa writer Elizabeth Hay’s The Original Title (A Fieldnotes Chapbook, 2016), a gracefully-produced chapbook in a run of one hundred copies comprised of a short talk originally delivered as part of the fourth annual Joanne Page Lecture Series at Queen’s University in Kingston. As Harris writes in her “12 or 20 (small press) questions” interview: “Fieldnotes operates pretty much within the gift economy—chapbook authors get 10% of the print run. I try to recoup design and printing costs. If I do better than that the money goes towards the next publication.” An utterly charming essay, Hay speaks to drafts and regrets, and the elements that fall away from a novel during the revision and editing process. This includes elements that an author might still be attached to, such as the revelation that her novel Late Nights on Air had originally been titled The End of Shyness before shifting to Dido in Yellowknife, “and then Late Nights on Air after a friend told me everyone would call the book Dildo in Yellowknife.”
After finishing Late Nights on Air, I went to England for a month and while I was there the page proofs came to me. I went over them and it seemed I had constructed the novel out of four words. Lovely. Tease. Tender. Soft. And in that order I plucked them out of the book like unwanted hairs from a chin. Searching for alternatives to “tender,” I overused “soft,” then I plucked out an infinity of “softs,” for they had multiplied when I wasn’t looking. I replaced the “softs” with feathery, lush, altered, lingering, quiet, calm, warm. I could have built a nest with all those discarded softs.
During that month I went several times to the British Library’s Treasures Room, and using headphones I listened to James Joyce’s odd little voice, light, boyish, insubstantial, reading from Finnegan’s Wake. Then to Yeats’s rolling delivery, repetitive, easy to parody. And to Seamus Heaney, a great natural reader. And to Virginia Woolf whose voice sounded surprisingly old, librarian-like, with a bit of a singsong to it. She talked about craftsmanship, about how every word is stored with the echoes of older uses. Just as each book, I’m suggesting, is stored with the echo of earlier intentions.
Calgary AB/St Catharines ON: From Calgary’s No Press comes Andrew McEwan’s Can’t tell if this book is depressing or if I’m just sad (August 2016), a small, hand-sewn chapbook produced in an edition of forty copies. McEwan’s poem is comprised of lines collected by a twitter-bot, @UN_REVIEW, which gathered references to “book” and “depressing,” suggesting prior machine-produced works such as Bill Kennedy and Darren Wershler’s apostrophe (Toronto ON: ECW Press, 2006) and update (Montreal QC: Snare Books, 2010), allowing a machine to collect lines that then may or may not be further selected. A machine may have constructed this poem, but it was not, precisely, machine-made, given that McEwan gave the directions; think of all the painters who did the physical labour for Andy Warhol artworks, for example. That’s the same, right?
This book is depressing, from beginning to end.
This book is so depressing why do I keep reading it
This book is damn depressing
This book is actually depressing as hell, why did I have to choose this one
The fact I can’t get interested in this book is just depressing
This book is really depressing! I need to stop but I can’t
This book is depressing me. So close to the end… just gotta finish.
Given the potential infiniteness of such a project, might there be a larger version? But oh, the grief in seeing so many lines on Twitter about how particular books are depressing certainly weighs.
Thursday, December 01, 2016
Christine Fischer Guy’s debut novel is The Umbrella Mender. Her short fiction has appeared in Canadian and US journals and has been nominated for the Journey and Pushcart prizes. She contributes to Ryeberg.com, The Millions, Hazlitt and the Los Angeles Review of Books. She teaches writing at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies.
1 - How did your first book change your life? How does your most recent work compare to your previous? How does it feel different?
I feel a bit more patient with the process and also acutely aware of the chasm between what I can do on the page and what I want to do on the page.
2 - How did you come to fiction first, as opposed to, say, poetry or non-fiction?
I haven't written nonfiction in book form, but I’ve been a freelance journalist for a long time, so nonfiction was my comfort zone. Writing a novel was an abiding desire since forever. I’ve always been an obsessive reader of fiction and wanted to do on the page what my favourite writers had done for me.
I read poetry all the time to fill the word and image well but am a little afraid of it. I’ve only ever written it in times of emotional distress and never shown it to anyone because it’s awful! One day I’ll screw my courage to the sticking place and take a poetry workshop.
3 - How long does it take to start any particular writing project? Does your writing initially come quickly, or is it a slow process? Do first drafts appear looking close to their final shape, or does your work come out of copious notes?
I’m a slow writer and like to choose projects that require research (because I love to do that) and yes, copious note-taking. That factual scaffolding energizes me. Rarely something will come out right the first time, but more often I’m making what I’ve come to think of as preparatory sketches and refining them over many drafts. With the new novel, I’ve been writing the first draft longhand. I like the way that has changed my process: it’s easier, somehow, to let it rip. I can’t obsessively comb over sections I’ve already written. I have to keep going forward.
4 - Where does a work of fiction usually begin for you? Are you an author of short pieces that end up combining into a larger project, or are you working on a "book" from the very beginning?
My debut novel knew it was a novel from first inception, though I did take a few of the characters for test drives in short stories. The novel I’m working on right now also knew it was a novel from the beginning. These longer projects suit my process: I like to take time to let ideas and characters develop and evolve over time.
5 - Are public readings part of or counter to your creative process? Are you the sort of writer who enjoys doing readings?
A few of the reading series here in Toronto were really helpful to me while I was writing The Umbrella Mender. It’s such a long road. Having people listen and say supportive things about a scene or a chapter was much-needed fuel to keep running that marathon. Having said that, I haven’t yet figured out how not to get nervous before readings, every single time. I am not a performer!
6 - Do you have any theoretical concerns behind your writing? What kinds of questions are you trying to answer with your work? What do you even think the current questions are?
I have a lot of questions about love. That’s a lifetime project, not a one-book project. I’m also very interested in silence/silencing and the role it plays in relationships and communities. That second question is central to the new book I’m working on, and it seems to be emerging (again) in the world at large: who can say what and how they’re allowed to say comes up again and again, everywhere.
7 – What do you see the current role of the writer being in larger culture? Does s/he even have one? What do you think the role of the writer should be?
I think writers can be the conscience of a society, but I think the writing is doomed if they approach their work that way. The role of the writer is to honour the contract with the book they are writing.
8 - Do you find the process of working with an outside editor difficult or essential (or both)?
It’s not necessarily the editor that makes the process of editing difficult: it’s essential work that no book can do without, and it’s never easy. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to work with someone who understands what you’re trying to do and wants, as much as you do, to help the book become its best possible self. The best kind of editor shows you the trouble spots and trusts you work it out.
9 - What is the best piece of advice you've heard (not necessarily given to you directly)?
Kevin Barry: “You can’t lie in fiction. Your soul is there, pinned and wriggling on the page.”
10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (journalism to short stories to the novel)? What do you see as the appeal?
It was ten years between the idea for my first novel and its birth. That’s largely because finding my voice took time. You can get along very nicely in journalism without one; in fact, it’s discouraged unless you’re a columnist. I’m not sure that was fiction’s chief attraction, but it was a necessity. Its appeal? Like I said earlier, I wanted to be doing what my favourite authors had done for me.
11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?
My kids still live at home, which means that I don’t go straight to the page as often as I’d like. That’s the ideal situation for me: working in that in-between space between dreaming and waking. More often I’m in the kitchen being domestic before I sit down to work, and if it’s cycling weather, I’m out for an early ride first. Then I make a coffee, sometimes meditate (I should do that more often, come to think of it), and sit down to do research reading or write, depending on where I am in the process.
12 - When your writing gets stalled, where do you turn or return for (for lack of a better word) inspiration?
If I’m working on a novel, I go back to the research. If I’m really stalled, I might go out for a walk or read something inspiring.
13 - What fragrance reminds you of home?
Hmm. Probably lavender, because I always have lavender oil around.
14 - David W. McFadden once said that books come from books, but are there any other forms that influence your work, whether nature, music, science or visual art?
Actually, all of those things play a role. Visual art definitely challenges my thinking and inspires me and I’m lucky to be able to see quite a lot of it in galleries here and Toronto and elsewhere. I live beside High Park in Toronto and I’m walking or cycling there several times a week. It calms me, which I need to be able to write. I love to read popular science, particularly brain science—it’s such a hopeful branch. Classical music is part of my new book, and listening to a volume of it over the past couple of years has taught me much about theme and structure.
I use research photographs as visual prompts for scenes I'm working on and always have some pinned up around my workspace.
15 - What other writers or writings are important for your work, or simply your life outside of your work?
I read and listen to poetry regularly to fill the language well, and I return to Alice Munro again and again. She’s taught me about being a woman writer as well as being a woman—what we’re allowed to have and to want.
16 - What would you like to do that you haven't yet done?
Become a falconer.
17 - If you could pick any other occupation to attempt, what would it be? Or, alternately, what do you think you would have ended up doing had you not been a writer?
I’d be in academia. I had my MA fairly young and got out for a while, always planning to return. I’d embarked on a doctorate, first term actually, when the idea for my novel appeared. I had two young kids then, and knew I couldn’t do all of those things, so I left the program.
18 - What made you write, as opposed to doing something else?
That’s hard to answer, because even though I’m a late bloomer in terms of writing fiction, I’ve always written. Writing helps me process the world and my way of being in it.
19 - What was the last great book you read? What was the last great film?
I’m still searching for something as great as Elena Ferrante’s Naples books. I read them last year and it was a flashlight-under-the-covers situation. It has been a long time since a book swept me off my feet like that. Same is true for Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life. Still looking for something that can equal that. I guess I should see his new documentary.
20 - What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a new novel, and I’ve already said as much as I’m willing to say about it!