Indie Literary Market yee-ha!
My experience of the last few months, working with the Meet the Presses collective, was a great one. And our first event, the Indie Literary Market this past Saturday, was a true thrill. It reminded me of the excitement of the early years of the Toronto Small Press Book Fair. We crammed about 25 literary presses into the murky back room of Clinton's, and after a slow first hour, the atmosphere was pretty electric and exciting and grass-roots and positive.
It was great to see, in one room, representatives from Coach House (even Stan Bevington sat behind their table for a while!), Insomniac, Porcupine's Quill, Pedlar, Mansfield, Um Yeah, The Emergency Response Unit, and so many more. It's particularly great at a time when it so often feels that the Toronto literary community is splintering into groups divided by press loyalty, reading-series loyalty and so on. So yeah, Saturday felt sort of like the 1970s to me!
Sales were good too for most of the room. I did nicely at my Proper Tales table. I was disappointed to sell only a few copies of Peter O'Toole: A Magazine of One-Line Poems and only a single Orphan's Song, but I had really big sellers with my two new $2 items — hastily folded-and-stapled mini-chapbooks containing a short story each: The Twelve Rabbis of, um, of, uh, and So Sue Me, You Talentless Fucker. I also moved several copies of both Confessions of a Small Press Racketeer (gotta start pestering Anvil about a second volume…) and Dead Cars in Managua.
It was also fun to sit beside Denis De Klerck of Mansfield Press (for whom I'm poetry editor); I think this was his first time sitting behind a press table at this kind of event. He started off a little curmudgeonly, but by mid-afternoon he was practically giddy with the experience, and it was great to see a lot of new people exposed to Mansfield books.
I could've easily spent hundreds of dollars at the Indie Literary Market, but here's what I did end up with (have only read a bit of it so far):
Punctuat!on Funn!es, by Gary Barwin (serif of nottingham) — yay!
Inverting the Deer, by Gary Barwin (serif of nottingham)
Stanzas #26, by Gary Barwin (ed. rob mclennan; above/ground press)
Help, My Dean Koontz Collection Is on Fire, by Ryan Bird (Um, Yeah Press) — what a great title!
Twaddle #3, edited by Ryan Bird
A Painter's Journey, Vol. II, by Barbara Caruso (Mercury Press)
A Slice of Voice at the Edge of Hearing, by Brian Dedora (Mercury Press) — holy shit!
This Snowing Under, by Nashira Dernesch (The Emergency Response Unit)
Poems, by Anya Douglas (The Emergency Response Unit)
Useful Knots and How to Tie Them, by Andrew Faulkner (The Emergency Response Unit) — this is really good stuff!
One Hour Empire #1, edited by James Gunn
Morse Tupping, by Sam Kaufman
In a Sense, by Sam Kaufman
Embassies 1 – 4, by Sam Kaufman
Between You and Me, by Lesley McAllister (Mercury Press) — really excited about a new book by Lesley!
Force quit, by Marcus McCann (The Emergency Response Unit)
five-seven-five: train poems, by Leigh Nash (The Emergency Response Unit)
Cutting Water, by Nicholas Power (Gesture Press)
Journal, by E. Thomson (Monkmanmedia)
Ministry of the Environment, by Carey Toane (Bench Press) — Carey's first stand-alone publication!
What did you get?
I imagine the Meet the Presses collective'll want to catch their breath, but I'm excited about our next meeting, whenever that'll be, and I'm excited about what other events we'll be cooking up. I don't think I've ever had such a positive and effective cooperative experience before. It was really meaningful to be working with Nicholas Power again, and even better because we were part of an entity that also included vets Beth Follett, Maggie Helwig, Paul Dutton, Gary Barwin and Maria Erskine, and really energetic newcomers Ally Fleming and Leigh Nash. It sorta feels like anything's possible now.
Over and out.