Small Press Points

Kevin Larimer

An independent press dedicated to publishing books in translation—one whose sole purpose is to connect readers in the United States to classic and contemporary authors from all points of the globe—really should have a good home: the nexus from which all of those literary connections can be established. Archipelago Books, publisher of such gems as Richard Sieburth's translation of Stroke by Stroke by Henri Michaux and Peter Wortsman's translation of Posthumous Papers of a Living Author by Robert Musil, spent three years in its offices in DUMBO, an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass and the popular name for the Brooklyn neighborhood situated between the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge. But the space the press was subletting from a theater company is, not surprisingly, quite a bit more valuable than it used to be—a common situation in a city where the real estate bubble continues to expand, despite nationwide trends to the contrary. Anyway, who needs DUMBO when there's room at the Old American Can Factory, a manufacturing and arts complex in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn? That's probably what founder Jill Schoolman and editor and publicist Zoe Ward thought when they moved there last month. Granted, they now have views of the Gowanus Canal rather than the Brooklyn Bridge's storied expanse, but they do have some nice new neighbors. Also in the old factory (where, one can safely assume, all kinds of cans were made back in the day) are the offices of Ugly Duckling Presse, the nonprofit art and publishing collective responsible for some of the most interesting contemporary letterpress books, chapbooks, artist's books, booklets—basically anything even remotely associated with bookmaking—and Akashic Books, a press dedicated to urban literary fiction and political nonfiction founded by Johnny Temple, who is the bassist for the rock group Girls Against Boys and has been described by more than one writer as "charismatic." Welcome home, Archipelago.

This is a test. This magazine is conducting a test of the Emergency Press Points System. This is only a test. About six years ago a group of writers formed the Emergency Collective after recognizing a few shared principles—that silly distinctions between "high art and journalism, accessibility and sophistication, physical and metaphysical, or form and content" are, well, silly, for example. To bridge such echoing philosophical chasms, the group launched the biannual journal Emergency Almanac and Emergency Press, which publishes a couple books of poetry and prose each year. Recent titles include The Border Will Be Soon by Chad Faries and Six Trips in Two Directions by Jayson Iwen. Emergency Press doesn't accept submissions directly; it publishes only books by members of the collective, who now number in the triple digits. "Then how does one become a member of the collective?" the inquisitive reader may ask. By contributing to the journal, whose pages are always open. This was a test. In the event of an actual emergency, the words you just read would have been followed by official information, news, or instructions. This concludes this test of the Emergency Press Points System.

Kevin Larimer is the senior editor of Poets & Writers Magazine.