Thursday, January 21, 2010

Small Press Profile: Snare Books

This week I caught up with Jon Paul Fiorentino, publisher of Snare Books, to chat very briefly about Snare. Jon Paul is also publisher of Matrix magazine and a fine poet and novelist, and teacher.

I was around in Montreal when JPF was getting Snare up and running, helping out a bit with the publication of its first titles, Zoe Whittall's The Emily Valentine Poems, Melissa Thompson's Dreadful Paris, Jason Christie's Canada Post, and Angela Carr's Ropewalk. Since then, Snare's published work by some of my favourite young Canadian writers, including Kim Minkus and Natalie Zina Walschots. Jon's doing important work, I think, in taking a chance on young writers who are taking chances themselves in their writing.

SM: What prompted the creation of Snare Books?

JPF: The establishment of Snare Books was the result of a long conversation between Robert Allen and myself. We had noted that many of the more experimental writers we had become fans of (through publishing their work in Matrix magazine or encountering their work at various reading series and in other journals) were having trouble placing their book-length manuscripts. We saw Snare as an opportunity to provide a home for some of these manuscripts. We paid for the first books out of our pockets. Since Rob passed away, I have tried to stay true to the original mandate of Snare -- to publish new, exciting, innovative writing.

SM: Can you talk a little bit about the Robert Kroestch Award for Innovative Poetry? What's the relationship between the judge and the winning poet?

JPF: The Robert Kroetsch award was established in 2006 in order to provide a space for emerging Canadian poets who work in the experimental tradition. The judge selects the winner, and sometimes, the judge will also edit the book. This year's judge is Sina Queyras. One of our finest poets.

SM: I see you've got Ian Orti's The Olive and the Dawn available as a PWYC ebook. What prompted this move? Are there more in store? What's your take on ebooks and capital-L Literature?

JPF: It was just an experiment. It was easy enough to make, and the author was keen to see it happen, so I was happy to oblige. We may do some more, when authors are into it. I actually think that the eBook thing has been blown out of proportion. I think many of the current e-readers will soon be gathering dust in basements along side people's old virtual pets and pagers. The technology is emulation technology. The book is superior technology. And, besides, if I am wrong and e-readers dominate the marketplace, it won't have as much of an effect on literary books. E-readers are for texts like Going Rogue by Sarah Palin or Still Standing by Carrie Prejean. Having said all of that, I do kind of like the Stanza reader for the iPhone.

SM: What's coming up?

JPF: We have a great first book by Helen Hajnoczky called Poets and Killers and a yet-to-be-titled book of short fiction by the amazing Mikhail Iossel. More books to be added to our lineup soon!


Sachiko Murakami reads and writes from Toronto. She wrote The Invisibility Exhibit.

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