Tuesday, 23 September 2008

shelf space

Alan Baker's blog Litterbug noted one of the problems faced by poets in PODworld: that the ideal MS for this kind of printing turns out to be somewhat larger than the ones the old-style publishing houses required. He notes a couple of ways around this problem. You can simply wait longer till the requisite manuscript is assembled. Or you can bring out very small books and pamphlets with presses who are not vying for the wider market, later collecting their contents in a larger volume. Last Wednesday at the Lamb, John Welch read from a new 24 page volume from Oystercatcher Press, Untold Wealth. At the same reading, Simon Smith read from various volumes including his two most recent from Salt, Reverdy Road and Mercury. Both of these books (230 and 160 pp respectively) feel like they contain a sequence of smaller books and there's certainly no sense here of padding to make up a marketable object. I'd assume from the acknowledgements pages in these books that Smith has produced them through patient accumulation. In both authors' cases the results were timely and consequential. Last weekend, up in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney, Pam Brown's new volume, True Thoughts (also Salt), was launched. Her practice is to assemble a full-size book from various smaller, road-tested productions. I'll be as glad to own this new assemblage as I have been to receive the instalments.

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