Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Coach House Launch report

Coach House does it good. I have to admit that the launch was about 5 times the size I was expecting, and so I was a little thrown when it came time to read. But you know when you do books that good, you have to raise the bar on the festivities as well. I'm not sure I'll see a press outdo that bash any time soon. Of course reading for 3 minutes is a little difficult, and I apologize to folks who were expecting more. But there were 6 readers, and you know, all that in between stuff. All of them were great--and I was very, very happy to share the stage with actor/playwrights as well. Love that there isn't the same split most presses have. It seems to me that poetry is closer to playwrighting than it is fiction, so if any of the literary arts should be sharing a bed its those two... So thanks to fellow readers, the fantastic Karen Hines and Darren O'Donnel, the charming Chris Ewert (isn't Miss Lamp the best fiction title ever?), Jon Paul Fiorentino (who has the best poet name ever, not to mention an awesome long term poetic project), and a. rawlings, who brings a fresh, feminist perspective in her extension and exploration of the natural history as performance, an echo of the work of Christopher Dewdney, one of my favorite Canadian poets...
All that was fun, and the smaller reading at Felini's Shoe (where the other poet named Simic presides), was also great--and thanks so Diana Fitzgerald Bryden for that--but the highlight for me was the afternoon Scotch at Coach House and meeting all the press guys. Now that was amazing. I loved, loved, loved, that the guys who did the binding, and cut the paper, and printed, yes, books were being printed while we sipped, were all there. I loved that these guys have laid hands on some of the most important books in Canadian literature over these past 40 years, and I love that they do it with such intelligence and dedication. That was the best. The smell of the press, the churning and stacked paper, the palettes and the discussions about tone and temperature of an image, the font, the weight, the shape...the pleasure of the book as material object, form as well thought out as the content. We forget what that might be like. We forget that like everything else in our lives we have let the production of our work become disconnected from its very intention...
Coach House deserves big-time support for the work they do. Instead of print-on-demand maybe people will ship books to them to print?? Just a thought. A good one damn it, but just a thought. What, after all, are we supporting with our work? What world do we wish to create?

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