Would you like a year’s worth of books, direct to your mailbox? Beautiful, carefully made, small-press books? If so, our subscriptions are the ticket. (And, as a bonus, you’ll be helping finance the printing of our 2015 list!)
Rachel Moritz’s How Absence (now available for pre-order; shipping early April—or subscribe, for a whole year of books) has been praised by Sarah Vap as “a stunning collection that lurches with open arms, seemingly in slow motion, seemingly quietly, and seemingly with a surfeit of pause, pause, pause—toward her infant son’s creation, and toward her own mind’s creations. The language here, like the infant’s making, like everything that’s invisible, (like absence), becomes the immensely weighty presence: ‘Something transparent, we know/ still contains.'”
The poems in How Absence, like shards of pale pottery from an archaeological dig, tell us about what time does to human beings: all we are, all we make and do, and how it falls into dust. But Moritz, in the face of time, offers us not despair but the mercy of genetics and the terrible beauty of the fine line between the born and the dying.
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21 x 12.5 cm
Cotton paper cover
Hand-bound in Belgium by MIEL
Edition of 120
Printed in Nottingham, UK, by Tompkin Press Co., Ltd.
When I told Laressa Dickey that I, too, was tired of her work being passed over in contests and open reading periods, and that I thought it was worth publishing, and hey, what if I published it (in December 2011), I knew almost nothing about publishing. I knew almost nothing about book design. I set off, as with most things I do, backwards: first committing to making the books, and then figuring out what I needed to do to become a press.
When I think back on the four months between telling Laressa I’d make the press that would publish her work—why not; lots of writers have done this, I said—and launching the first two of her chapbooks alongside Neele Dellschaft’s first chapbook, I remember scrambling to get ISBNs and a business address. I remember watching lots of videos on YouTube in order to figure out how InDesign worked. I remember getting the first batch of covers and it being a real lesson in measure thirty-six times, send the files to the printer once. Oops. I remember folding and binding on the red table in our workroom with Jonathan and Neele. I remember getting those tiny broadsides in the mail from Andrew Schroeder (for Josh Wallaert’s chapbook and Laressa’s third and fourth chapbooks).
As with lots of things I do, and for better or for worse, MIEL began as a piece of play. A game. Let’s imagine what could be, and then let’s do it. That’s a manifestation of my impatience but also of my belief that things are possible and that individual people can make objects and spaces (that we don’t have to wait for the ‘professionals’ to do it, and that we don’t have to make things that act, look, or feel the way ‘real things’ do—we can make our own, in our own way, with the terroir of our individual capabilities and experiences). The incredible thing I learned is that once you start the game, people believe it’s real. And they say yes to things like you publishing their books, even in different formats (like the postcard edition of Nancy Campbell’s How To Say I Love You in Greenlandic, which sold out within a year of publication). And then reviewers say yes to reviewing them. And people, incredibly, show up to buy them.
Designing and publishing Lisa Solomon’s book was in many ways a turning point for MIEL. Prior to this I had used my own savings to pay for book printing (our books generally cost between €200 and €400 to print; at that time I had some work and cheap rent, and I used what was left over to print books). But Lisa’s book is full-color and bound in signatures. It was going to be impossible to publish without assistance. I applied for an Arts Council England grant (thanks, ACE!), which paid for the printing and my time designing the book. Working with Lisa on this was such a gift—her trust in my work really made me aware of the relationship between me as a book designer and editor and the writers and artists whose work I want to support. The money from the Arts Council, and Lisa’s trust—and the book itself, which is the most ‘real’ book we’ve published in design terms (it has a spine, I mean)—made me realize that MIEL could be play, but it was also and simultaneously serious.
One constant in the press work has been the pleasure I take in all aspects of book shows and small press fairs. Everything from designing and building displays, to interacting with visitors: although it can be draining (long days, lots of people, sometimes I forget to eat enough), it is so great to get to talk to people in real time about these books, and to watch them enjoy them, pick them up, read them. As a micropress, lots of book work—like lots of writing—is isolated, quiet, uncompensated. Being in rooms with people, seeing and participating in the life of small presses and of books, is an unmitigated joy.
When I think back now, I’m amazed at how much has happened in the past three years. (MIEL launched its first three titles on March 16, 2012). There are books now that didn’t exist then. I know how to do things (use InDesign and other parts of Adobe CS, market books, manage inventory, offer editorial guidance, work with printers) that I didn’t before. I’ve gotten to meet and correspond with so many great writers and artists, have hosted readings, have helped make connections between writers and other presses when the work wasn’t a fit for MIEL. Not trying to toot my own horn. Just kind of incredible to me how at one point there wasn’t and now, despite the ways in which I still struggle (managing the workload without getting overwhelmed) or worry (the panic of oh my god did I send the proofed version of the manuscript to the printers?!), there is. And the is includes books like Kristen Case’s Temple and Shana Youngdahl’s winter/windows and Megan Garr’s Terrane and Bethany Carlson’s Diadem Me and Jonterri Gadson’s Interruptions and Rachel Moritz’s how absence. And more are coming. (!!!! Although I tend to get bogged down in worry—will the books do justice to the texts? Will they please the writers? Where will the money come from, oh god, the money?—when I step back from my worry I realize how thrilling, really, in a physical way thrilling, it is to be able to make these books.)
So thanks, writers and artists, for trusting me to put your writing and art into the world. And thanks, customers, for buying the books and other things, and allowing me to continue. Thanks also to my parents, who, despite my protestations, order every book (don’t do that! I will send you copies for free!). Thanks to the Arts Council, and to Writing East Midlands, and to the Small Publishers’ Fair and to Free Verse and to States of Independence, who made it possible for the books to exist and provided venues where people could encounter them in real time. Thanks to the reviewers who’ve taken time to read and think about the writing. Thanks to the people who sent work to read during the open reading periods each year. Thanks to Richard of Tompkin Press in Nottingham and Tom Jessen of Foxglove Press in Maine for working with me, producing the books, and tolerating my beginner’s mistakes. And special thanks to my friends, especially Jon, Neele, Matt W., Carol, and Laressa, who have supported me and believed in the press all along. Thanks to Jonathan who as usual made things possible (and always talks me down when I think I’m being silly to try things like this). Three years! Let’s have a few more.
This week, Megan M. Garr, author of the recently released Terrane, offers us the story of the book’s origins.
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Terrane began with a single word, which is not itself anywhere in the poem. Heide.
heide – heiden
heath – heathen
A semantic judgment based on a people’s relationship to the land.
Or, more precisely, on how they choose to use that land.
Terrane was drafted in the summer of 2012 in Iceland. Between trips as far into the landscape as I could dare, in a rented SUV, were long writing days overlooking the Langjökull icecap.
I had saved for a year for this, what I called my self-funded residency, having gotten to the point that to write, I needed to leave Amsterdam entirely, be out of calling distance (if only virtually) from my work, my overpriced expatriate market apartment, my duties at Versal, which ran through every hour.
In high school, my best friend Jennie and I fantasized about moving to Greenland. For us – until we discovered that there was a US air force base there – Greenland was untouched land, an escape, somewhere where we could start again.
Every day, from 1993-1997, I wore a pouch around my neck. In that pouch were tokens my friends gave me, souvenirs of my adolescence: a 20-sided die, a river stone, found pennies, a screw from the bleachers, a ring, a laminated map of Greenland…
…and many other little objects, now tucked in a shoebox at my childhood home in Nashville.
At the bouldering gym in Reykjavik, I met a geologist who told me, “If you get lost in Greenland, you’re going to die. If you get lost in Iceland, just stand up. Someone will see you.”
I found out later that this “stand up” business is just an old Icelandic joke. After centuries of sheep grazing and logging for fuel, there are not many trees in Iceland.
When I came upon a Spanish family in their SUV, sinking in the Þórsmörk river, all I had to do was dial 112 on my mobile and flag down help further down the valley.
I can confirm a sense of safety here, among the danger.
I was among the stranded of the 2010 Eyafjallajökull eruption. Eyafjallajökull: the ice cap of the mountains of the islands. A stratovolcano of lavas ranging from basalt to andesite.
There’s a story behind Terrane that I’m not ready to tell. Not in prose, at least, where everything gets named for exactly what it is.
But here in 2012, here in Iceland, driving within sight of Eyafjallajökull as often as I could, here I tried to tell it, here the telling began.
Long days behind the artificial landscapes of my laptop, trying to write poems.
Long drives on roads like these, fording rivers.
Inhabiting open country.
As far as possible.
Please feel very invited to this three-part writing workshop for “not writers” (but writers are also very welcome) this spring. The workshop will take place on Saturday afternoons in March (14), April (25) and May (9) for two hours each time, and each session will be built around strategies for approaching writing, suggestions for engaging in critique, writing exercises, and discussion of reading, all with the aim of helping participants find ways to approach writing as part of daily life (and thereby make writing something both possible and ordinary). We will also do some gentle workshopping (writing critique). You are welcome to come for one, two, or all of the sessions. Please book ahead of time; pay in cash on the day.
The workshops are for anyone who is interested in writing, regardless of where they are in their practice now. Whether you write in English or another language; whether you write poetry or prose, the workshops are open to you. They are intended to offer a supportive and encouraging environment to begin writing as daily work, or to jumpstart a dormant practice. There will also be baked goods and hot drinks, fresh air, light, and lots of enthusiasm and excitement about writing.
Megan M. Garr’s Terrane (28 pp., February 2015), evokes the in-between experience of migration. In collected shards of narrative and image, Garr’s long poem scatters us in space both stellar and terrestrial, reminding us from the very beginning not to forget “the radiant dust” that precedes and imbues our lives on earth. In this attempt to recognize and to name the world as a purposely unfamiliar place, Garr creates a terrain all her own—but one that is open to our traversal.
Available for pre-order here (€9 + shipping).
The people who fill both positions will be responsible for publicising and attracting interest in Dickinson House and MIEL publications in their respective countries. Strategies and goals will be discussed during interviews with individual candidates, and, upon hiring, will be decided in partnership with the editor/residency director.
These are paid, non-volunteer positions. We have a minimal budget and support the press and residency center with our own employment; as a micropress, we won’t be able to pay what we’d love to. Our budget for each publicist is €250 (total/each), to correspond to €15 per hour.
Interested? Email us (miel.books at gmail dot com) one PDF, titled with your last name, containing a two-page CV detailing your PR experience and connection to the literary community in the US or UK, as well as a brief cover letter that tells us why you’d like to work with us—and what would make us happy to work with you.
Deadline: March 5, 2015.
Dear readers, dear writers, greetings from this side of the Year. I hope it finds you well.
MIEL has some Plans for 2015. We’ll be putting out a dozen or so books—art, poems, prose, things in between—and welcoming residents to Dickinson House (don’t forget: fellowship applications close on January 31—residency applications open until we’re booked up for the year).
Our offerings for this year will begin with a broadside by George Szirtes at the end of January and a chapbook by Megan M. Garr (editor of Versal) in February. We’ll be at AWP in Minneapolis (say hello) in April.
But first, to start the year, we’d like to offer you 50% off any books in the shop. Just use the code HAPPY2015 at checkout—it’s good until January 31 our time. This is not valid on stationery or on subscriptions, but you can use it to purchase more than one single book. The discount will apply to your entire purchase (except if it includes subscriptions or stationery—if you want to buy those, please make two separate transactions). Happy New Year!