26 April 2010

Spring Poetry Tra-la

If you're in Montreal, be sure to come out to the Gaspereau Spring Poetry Tra-la at Drawn & Quarterly.


22 April 2010

More Spring Books

The spring rush seems to be quieting down a bit as the last of the new titles finally shipped yesterday – George Sipos’ memoir The Geography of Arrival. George is the former the owner of Mosquito Books in Prince George, British Columbia. His memoir tells of his experience immigrating to Canada from Hungary in 1957 and of growing up in London, Ontario, in the 1960s. It's a lovely, smart book.

Memoirs written by ‘ordinary’ people, people who are not household names, can be tricky books to sell, especially if they don’t have a grand thematic angle involving heroism, extraordinary achievement or whatnot and simply recount everyday experiences. When I first read George’s book, however, I knew that I wanted to publish it regardless of the financial risks because it was insightful and well written. It was exactly the kind of book I felt that people should be reading. A publisher who merely follows the demands of the market is not really a publisher at all, not in the humanist sense anyway. There is a sense in which a book publisher must help direct the culture as well as reflect it.

George’s memoir fits well with the other memoirs Gaspereau Press has published over the years in that it transcends local and personal interest and becomes literary thanks to the craftsmanship, sensibility, insight and skill of the author. Harrison Wright’s Probing Minds, Salamander Girls and a Dog Named Sally is an example of another memoir that does this, as are John Terpstra’s Skin Boat, The Boys, and Falling Into Place.

As usual, we had a little bit of fun with the inside cover. Illustrator Sydney Smith of Halifax (brother of the poet Alison Smith) did the artwork for George’s book jacket. Before we settled on the streetscape, Syd sketched out a number of other objects which appear in the book, including a row of glass eyeballs. While we decided not to use them on the jacket itself, we snuck the eyeballs inside, printing them in silver on the black cover stock. I think they look like fried eggs.


12 April 2010

Peter Sanger launches Outram book in Toronto

Peter Sanger was at the fabulous Arts and Letters Club in Toronto last Friday evening for the launch of Through Darkling Air: The Poetry of Richard Outram. My sources report that there were over fifty people in attendance and that the book was well received. Of course, back home in Kentville, we’re still madly binding books and filling orders. (Event photos by Peter Newman.)

Peter Sanger and Amanda Jernigan

Antiquarian bookseller Hugh Anson-Cartwright with Sanger

Sanger Signing Books after the reading

Jeffery Donaldson

Happy bookseller, Ben McNally

This book has been, in a sense, a long time coming. It was instrumental in my meeting Peter Sanger for the first time back in 2000. Peter blew into my office one day, quite insistent that Gaspereau should publish a book he was writing about Richard Outram, and publish it right away (there was some sort of event planned in the coming months, so time was of the essence). I admired Peter’s writing, but was indifferent about Outram and his work, and so I declined.

“So what will you do now?” I asked Peter, and seeing that he would proceed regardless I offered to help him to produce an affordable but elegant privately-published edition of his text. And this is exactly what we did, producing a short run of “Her Kindled Shadow …”: An Introduction to the Work of Richard Outram for The Antigonish Review Press in 2001.

This curt rejection tempered with a small act of generosity launched a friendship and professional association which has resulted in a very productive decade for Peter as a writer. Since that first meeting, Peter has published numerous books and chapbooks with Gaspereau Press, including the poetry books Kerf (2002) and Aiken Drum (2006) and prose projects such as Spar: Words in Place (2002), White Salt Mountain: Words in Time (2005), and The Stone Canoe (2007). I've also colaborated with Peter and Thaddeus Holownia on a number of Anchorage Press projects. These books have helped cement Sanger’s literary reputation.

After the death of Richard Outram in 2005, the time seemed right for Peter to revise and expand his book on Outram’s life and work. As he embarked on this task, I decided to reconsider Gaspereau’s role. Regardless of our difference of opinion on Outram’s importance as a poet, I knew that Through Darkling Air was to be a key book in Peter’s own writing career and I wanted to support Peter by publishing it.

In the long haul, what the reading public will make of Through Darklinig Air, or Peter’s poetry, or Outram’s, is anyone’s guess, but I do know that we have produced a book that honours both the author and his subject matter, and which demonstrates one way in which the culture might engage a poet and his life’s work.


01 April 2010

Hydration and Straw Hats

Laura and Gary were madly making cases for Peter Sanger’s literary biography of Richard Outram, entitled Through Darkling Air, which launches at Toronto’s Arts and Letters Club in, umm, well, a week’s time. Much to do! Much to do, indeed!

Laura and Gary cutting cloth

Printing silver ink on cloth

Laura tipping on headbands

Laura and Gary making cases