Monthly Archives: September 2015

Deep Vellum Stirs Up Translation

You’ve probably read many translated classics—think Tolstoy or Flaubert—but when was the last time you picked up a contemporary work of literature in translation, or even really gave a thought about the translating process? Deep Vellum Publishing is striving to change this imbalance by publishing innovative literary works from writers around the world.  Though just over a year old, the press has provided English translations of titles from a wide range of different writers and countries, including French and Icelandic authors, with upcoming titles from Chilean, Argentinean, Dutch, and Congolese writers. Deep Vellum Publishing is located in Dallas, Texas, and the press and its founding publisher Will Evans have been getting lots of attention. In fact, Deep Vellum was just named “Best New Thing in Town” by the Dallas Observer!

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Will Evans. Photo by Steven Visneau.

Jennifer Smart of Arts & Culture magazine wrote an essay on September 23, 2015, looking into the act of translating and what it means for the specific text as well as the publishing industry at large. She cited Will Evans and Deep Vellum as the instigators in philosophical quandaries regarding translation. She posed the question of whether you can say you’ve actually read a translated text (like Anna Karenina) if you haven’t read it in the original language, and “whether or not some works are simply untranslatable.” Deep Vellum’s titles support and counter these questions, with their titles introducing readers to diverse worlds while also highlighting common themes felt around the world. Deep Vellum not only introduces readers to literary works they wouldn’t normally have access to, their titles also spark conversations about the role of translation in the larger publishing world.

Deep Vellum Publishing is a non-profit press, a deliberate decision on Evans’ part to provide space for eduTram83cation for training young translators. Their mission is to “connect the world’s greatest writers with English-language readers through original translations… promoting a more vibrant literary community in north Texas and beyond.” Their most recent title, Tram 83illustrates the diversity and freshness of titles the press publishes. Written by Fiston Mwanza Mujila from the Democratic Republic of Congo and translated from the original French by Roland Glasser, Tram 83 takes readers into the modern African gold rush and raises questions about the meaning of relationships and the increasing globalization of the world.

Smart summed up the importance of translation in her article: “translation, it seems, diversifies our experience of the world at the same time as it demonstrates our commonalities; its unique ability lies in expanding our concepts of literature by slightly complicating our stories with those of others.” Thanks to presses like Deep Vellum, it’s exciting to think about the previously unexplored stories and questions that will be presented to English-language readers in their upcoming season—straight out of Dallas.

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Annie Koyama Shows Off Her Eclectic Bookshelf for It’s Nice That

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Annie Koyama’s bookshelf. Photo credit: It’s Nice That

Have you ever wondered what books authors and publishers keep on their own bookshelves? You can take a peek into the private collection of Annie Koyama, founder and publisher of Koyama Press, thanks to the journal It’s Nice That. Annie Koyama invited Rebecca Fulleylove to take a look at her “illustration laden bookshelf,” and she talked about some of her favorite titles. Each title Annie picked from her shelf gives readers a glimpse into her personality and interests as a publisher. As Fulleylove said in the article, “with alternative comics, art books and a bit of trade fiction all featuring, Annie’s selection is as varied as the titles she publishes.”

The first title Annie pulled was Nog a Dod by Marc Bell, a Canadian anthology that introduced her to a variety of different artists when she just beginning in the world of comics. Annie then moved on to Elvis Road by Xavier Robel and Helge Reumann, one of her favorite books because of how it “feels like a stream of consciousness commentary on the state of the world.” From there, Annie turned to Klaus Biesenbach by Henry Darger, which she was drawn to because of the “combination of the beautiful and creepy [that] Darger’s work encapsulates.” Next, Annie talked about Gary Panter. Though Panter is best known for his character and set designs for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Annie calls his comics and paintings “amazing” and cites him as an inspiration for her and other artists because “he draws you into his worlds to explore at your own pace.” Last, but certainly not least, Annie gushed about her childhood favorite, Little Lulu by Marjorie Henderson Buell. First read on-loan from her sister, Annie talked about her fond memories of the title: “the colors seems bright and muted at the same time and that screen-tone effect was memorable. […] I could look at that cover for a long time.”

Founded in 2007, KoyaKoyamaPressma Press publishes “a diverse and eclectic range of titles,” a mission that is echoed on Annie’s personal bookshelves. The press continues to grow each year, and 2015 will be—according to the article— “their biggest output to date with 12 titles and a handful of mini-comics” in a wide range of styles and genres. Lose #7 by Michael DeForge, Black Rat by Cole Closser, and Wailed by Robin Nishio are just a few of the newest diverse titles from Koyama Press. After perusing Annie’s shelves, it’s obvious publishing innovative and electic titles is a project of passion and love.

 

 

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Akashic Books, BOA Editions, and Sarabande Books Make Publisher Weekly’s Star Watch 2015!

StarWatchGet ready to break out the confetti, because the honorees and finalists for Publisher Weekly‘s inaugural “Star Watch 2015” were announced on September 11! A huge congratulations to Peter Conners at BOA editions and Kristen Radtke at Sarabande Books for making the honoree list, and to Ibrahim Ahmad at Akashic Books for being a finalist! The program “recognizes young publishing professionals who have distinguished themselves as future leaders of the industry.” Star Watch was created in collaboration with the Frankfurt Book Fair, and the 4o honorees—which includes four finalists and one “superstar”—were chosen from over 250 nominees and selected by a panel of judges from the Association of American Publishers, the American Booksellers Association, the Frankfurt Book fair, and industry consultant Richard Nash. As Publishers Weekly boasts, the honorees and finalists “represent every part of the book ecosystem: booksellers, designers, digital specialists, editors, and publicists. They sell and publish a variety of formats across all categories and genres, from literary fiction to romance, picture books to academic tomes, and comics to classics.” Publishers Weekly briefly highlighted the achievements of each honoree and winner, including quotes from peers.

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Peter Conners. Photo credit: Ashleigh Deskins

Star Watch noted Peter Conners‘ talent for nurturing great writers and his successful fundraising pursuits among other achievements. Melissa Hall, the development director at BOA Editions, said “Peter Conners’ star has been on a meteoric rise, and his success in all aspects of American publishing deserves to be celebrated.” BOA Editions is a nonprofit press that publishes poetry and other genres, as they “foster readership and appreciation of contemporary literature.”

Kristen Radtke, the managing editor at Sarabande Books, has elevated the press in terms of visibility and sales while also “revamping” the way they design and market thsarabande-bookseir titles. Kristen Miller—director of operations and outreach at Sarabande Books—said of Radtke: “…when I hear fears about the end of books or the demise of the publishing industry, I know that as long as we have people like Kristen—with her limitless drive, her vision, her unyielding forward momentum, and lack of complacency—these fears are unfounded.” As Publishers Weekly said in their write-up, “Sarabande is a small house that is dedicated to underrepresented genres: poetry, short fiction, and essays,” and it is thanks to people like Radtke that Sarabande is so successful with these titles.

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Ibrahim Ahmad

Ibrahim Ahmad of Akashic Books was named one of four finalists, because of his fearlessness in publishing innovative works and trying new things. Now the senior editor at Akashic, Ahmad started at the press as an intern. He was new in the publishing industry and relied on his instincts as a reader, a philosophy that has continued to serve him and the company well. Publisher and editor-in-chief Johnny Temple said “equally comfortable championing everything from literary writers from the Middle East to hip-hop literature… Ahmad’s tastes wholly reflect the smart eclecticism that has come to define our list.” Temple sums it up, saying that Ahmad “has indelibly shaped Akashic Books into the thriving press it is today.”

Star Watch is a fresh program that celebrates the achievements of the tireless individuals behind important presses. The 40 honorees and finalists were honored in New York City at a party on September 16, and the “superstar” Helen Yentus—art director at New York City’s Riverhead Books—will be going on an all expenses paid trip to the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. Congratulations to all!

 

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Flying Eye Books and Emily Hughes Capture Hearts and Minds of Readers

Sincere and full of heart, ThLittleGardenere Little Gardener by Emily Hughes has been capturing attention since its release in August 2015. Replete with intricate illustrations, a sweet story, and published by Flying Eye Books (imprint of NoBrow Press), this book is another successful addition to Flying Eye Books’ already extensive collection of visual titles. In an interview with Carter Higgins on August 25, 2015 for Design of the Picture Book, Hughes talked about her inspiration for the book, her creative process, and highlighted some of the illustrations from the charming book.

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Hughes’ childhood home in Hawaii and illustration. Photo credit: Design of the Picture Book.

The Little Gardener is about an unassuming and “self-sufficient” man who loves to take care of the garden he lives in. Hughes said in the interview that “he is really just a symbol for the everyman, the underdog, you, me… our place as a human. It’s not about him, it’s about his vision, his hopes.” Hughes described the process for creating The Little Gardener as “an outpouring, I drew and drew and drew. […] this one felt natural to make, intuitive.” The images are very dense and intricate, and Hughes said it was a “meditative book to make— almost like making a mandala.”  She admitted that she is scatter-brained, and that working with illustrations and text gives her a good balance: “having text keeps my brain focused when there are other ideas floating about. Because I also draw, I am able to tell the other story lines as well— they are quieter, but are still present for others to interpret if they have patience.” These other storylines come in the form of subtle references to her childhood home of Hawaii and other intricate details seen in the illustrations. In general, Hughes said her process starts “off with a general character and theme and it evolves— the writing is the last part, I think the feeling needs to be understood first.”

The Little Gardener is Hughes’ second book published by Flying Eye Books and NoBrow Press, who have each published numerous visual books. Hughes’ first book published with them, Wild (September 2013), shares similarities with The Little Gardener: They both center around characters that are one with nature and their environment, and they also mirror the personal struggles Hughes experienced at the time of writing. In the interview Hughes said, “Wild is about acceptance and tolerance, issues I was trying to practice myself. The Little Gardener was about keeping hope alive when I was faltering with my own.” With The Little Gardener, Emily Hughes and Flying Eye Books deliver a heartfelt story about working hard and remaining true to yourself.

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City Lights Publishers Celebrates Rad Women

Think of the last time yoRadAmericanWomenu saw a picture book that was engaging and inspiring to people of all ages. Now, think of a book like this that is written by and features a diverse cast of women. You probably don’t have many examples of such a book. City Lights Publishers, however, has given us just this book with their release of Rad American Women A-Z (spring 2015), written by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl. To celebrate the many rad women that the book features, City Lights is creating a video blog series in which other awesome women read entries from the book. On September 9, 2015, Maris Dyer – intern at City Lights – took a look at the new project on City Lights’ blog and released the first video, featuring former editor of ACLU News Elaine Elison reading “L is for Lucy Parsons.”

Rad American Women A-Z is a joyous celebration of women. It is an alphabet book, with each letter entry featuring a different woman and highlighting her story and achievements. As the blog post says, the “alphabet book illustrates revolutionary American women throughout history, some well-known and others less-so, starting with A for Angela Davis, B for Billie Jean King, and C for Carol Burnett.” The collection showcases 26 diverse woman, and the entries span across many different professions and eras, from artists, scientists, abolitionists, and everything in between.

Named “Rad Women Read Rad American Women,” the video blog brings in influential and simply awesome women from around the Bay Area to the City Lights office to read from the book. Elaine Elison is the first on the list of 26 guests, who (aside from being the former editor of ACLU News) is also a writer, editor, researcher, and communications consultant. She read  about Lucy Parsons, an activist who worked for justice in women’s issues, worker’s rights, and racism in the late 1800s and early 1900s. As is written in her entry, Parsons fought to make “America a fair place for all.” After reading Lucy’s entry, Elison explained why she chose Lucy: “I’m a big fan of Lucy Parsons. […] we all need to learn from her boldness and courage.” Elison finished her reading by giving advice to young women about how to become rad: “believe in yourself, join CityLightshands with your sisters, and stand up for what you believe in.”

City Lights will be releasing a new video each week until they  finish all 26 entries. Check City Lights’ blog each week for new entries!

 

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Coffee House Press’s Innovation Sparks MPR News Conversation

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Chris Fischbach. Photo courtesy of Coffee House Press

Amidst cries that publishing is a dying industry, small houses like Coffee House Press are searching for new ways to evolve and grow in the changing field. Specifically, Coffee House Press is illustrating that publishing is in fact not dying, and can, in fact, be a powerful tool. On September 2, 2015, Euan Kerr for MPR News talked with publisher Chris Fischbach of Coffee House Press about the press’ new endeavors and how they are “shaking up publishing” with innovative programming and a new imprint.

Coffee House Press is a small non-profit and independent press that releases roughly 18 titles per year, ranging from fiction to poetry. As Fischbach said in the interview, they “connect readers and writers,” using publishing as a tool to promote the arts while also constantly searching for “different kinds of programming” to increase readership and promote authors works. For example, they developed a residency program called In The Stacks that places writers in various locations – such as libraries – to engage with their readers and create innovative work. Coffee House Press was also recently involved in the Walker Art Center’s annual Internet Cat Video Festival, wooing the crowds with the new title Cat Is Art Spelled Wrong. Fischbach said that the press strives to release books and create different programs that merge disciplines and “cross boundaries of race, culture, [and] form.”

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Photo courtesy of Coffee House Press

One of Coffee House’s new ventures comes in the form of creating an imprint in partnership with Emily Brooks, a “feminist publishing project” located in Brooklyn. In a statement about the partnership, Coffee House Press explained that Emily Brooks is a “hybrid book club/bookstore/publisher” that delivers a handpicked books to subscribers once a month. As Fischbach said in the interview, both publishing entities are striving to create original works that “speak to the aesthetic excellence, experimental boldness, and social concerns of both organizations.” Coffee House Press refuses to listen when people say publishing is dying, instead focusing on pushing the boundaries of the industry to create something fresh and exciting.

If you want to connect with Coffee House Press in person and give them your support, be sure to stop by Housequake on September 21, 2015 at the Fulton Tap room, where they will be celebrating their fall releases as well as Chris Fischbach’s twenty years with Coffee House and his rise from intern to publisher.

 

 

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Copper Canyon Press and Third Man Books Give New Life to Prolific Southern Writer

Some authors neWhatAboutThisver get to see their work grow in popularity in their lifetime – think F. Scott Fitzgerald and the surging popularity of The Great Gatsby years after his death. This is the case with Frank Stanford, a prolific poet who has had two collections published posthumously this year, from Copper Canyon Press and Third Man Books. Since Stanford’s suicide at 29 in 1978, his fan base has grown slowly, with little work available to the majority of readers. The titles What About This from Copper Canyon Press (April 2015) and  Hidden Water from Third Man Books (August 2015) give readers a definitive collection of Stanford’s works, and the titles are getting attention.

What About This brings together Stanford’s published and unpublished manuscripHiddenWaterts and poems, and drafts and segments of previously uncollected work. Third Man Books’ companion title, Hidden Water is a collection of previously unpublished poems and drafts, as well as photographs and letters that illuminate the person behind Stanford’s mysterious character. As the Houston Chronicle said on August 21, 2015 in an article about the “mainstream acceptance of the author,” Stanford has never been widely known or read, but instead has “floated, ghostlike, through certain segments of the literary South.” The article continues, saying the two collections “make Stanford’s work feel legitimate, as though he’s been recognized by the academy and will soon take his place in anthologies and high school textbooks.”

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Illustration from “Hidden Water” by Ginny Stanford. Used by permission of C.D. Wright, Ginny Stanford, Estate of Frank Stanford.

Both Third Man Books and Copper Canyon Press publish stunning poetry, and they were naturally drawn to Stanford’s talent and mystery. Copper Canyon Press was captivated by Stanford’s lyrical and dramatic voice and his range in topics covered, from politics and race to culture and humanity, while Third Man Books’s title provides the intimate Stanford–replete with letters and photographs that paint the human Stanford.

These titles introduce Stanford to new readers and gives long-time fans a definitive collection of his works. Clearly, for Third Man Books and Copper Canyon Press, intense, dramatic, and thought-provoking work deserves to be published. And read.

 

 

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