While I attended a number of panels at this year’s Printers Row Lit Fest, I was more drawn to the literary community to be found among the tents and tables. Below are a few of the people and organizations I felt most worth mentioning. To note my biggest regret: not getting a Franki Elliot typewritten original.
I Shoot Rockstars
I met Kyle LaMere (pictured) in the Chicago Publishes Tent on Saturday where he was “promoting” his first book: VISITORS. The coffee table book is the product of a year-long portrait project in which LaMere took a photo of everyone who entered his studio—friend, family, stranger, plumber—and asked them two questions: Who are you? What do you love?
Also in the Chicago Publishes Tent was Managing Editor Benjamin van Loon (pictured) representing the “strange, surreal & insectile literature” Anobium produces. According to their web site—which I highly recommend taking a look through—Anobium’s primary foci are literary publishing, multimedia arts, and cosmonautics (“…our fascinations are not informed by genre, tropes, or the so-called constraints of ‘realism,’ but rather, by genuine philosophical/metaphysical/pataphysical/everyday curiosity.”). Anobium Literary Journal, for which submissions are now being accepted, is a biannual publication. Check out their Kickstarter page as the commendable organization continues to fundraise for their third volume, Noospheria—there are only a couple weeks left and $2,000 still needed to make it happen.
MAKE: A Chicago Literary Magazine has released its 11th issue: “Neither/Nor.” The biannual, not-for-profit publication includes a variety of non-fiction, fiction, poetry, interviews, book reviews, visual art portfolios, and original story art illustrations. The organization steps out into the community with stage readings and interactive arts events as well as educating “through public forums on literature and writing and publishing workshops.”
Kenning Editions (pictured) is another of the many not-for-profit publishers to be found at this year’s Printers Row Lit Fest. Founded in 1998, the operation has developed a reputation for publishing “high-quality trade paperback volumes of new and archival writing in the radical modernist tradition.” Some of their latest publications include Pamela Lu’s Ambient Parking Lot (described as “part fiction, part earnest mockumentary”), Jesse Seldess’ poetry collection, Left Having, and The Kenning Anthology of Poets Theater 1945-1985, edited by Kevin Killian and David Brazil.
NOVEL-T was one of the few out-of-towners at this year’s festival having made the trip from their Brooklyn base (another worth noting is Poetic Earth Handmade Journals). The company creates a series of jersey-style t-shirts based on literary classics. For example, one of their selections has “POE” printed on the back, above the number 13, while the front has a small illustration of a raven. Other names include Vonnegut, Quixote, Wilde, Kafka, Bartleby, Gatsby, Shakespeare, etc.
Haymarket Books (named after the 1886 Haymarket Martyrs) is a progressive nonprofit book distributor and publisher. Skimming their selection (including Chomsky and Zinn’s latest works) and eavesdropping on workers’ conversation on contemporary philosophers, I immediately dubbed Haymarket my place for left wing and political philosophy lit. The logic behind their book choices: “Learning the lessons of past victories, as well as defeats, can arm a new generation of fighters for a better world.” This year alone, the 501(c)(3) intends to publish over 20 new titles. (pictured)
The Point Magazine (pictured) is “a [biannual] Chicago-based print journal publishing rigorous but accessible writing about contemporary life and culture.” I bought two. This is a journal that takes a look at contemporary issues, takes a step back, and applies classical and modern philosophy to their essays. I have found only a few publications able to (or should I say—that care to) take such an approach.
Chicago Writers House / The Chicago Book Expo
One of my later stops on Sunday—as a few of the other tents were beginning to throw up their “$5 on all books” signs—I got to talk to John Rich of Chicago Writers House. The end goal of this project is “create a hub for literature, offer physical space for writers, and provide artist services and residencies.” Long-term, this means acquiring a fully-equipped building; short-term, this means sponsoring various literary programs and “collaborating with existing literary and arts organizations.” The organization behind Chicago Writers House and Uptown United also host the Chicago Book Expo—named “Best new literary event” of 2011 by New City. More information on the Expo can be found at the Chicago Writers House website.
Chicago Publishes raffled off the extra space in their tent to local publishers. This year’s lottery winners included Weighed Words, RCP Publications, BAC Street Journal, Academy Chicago Publishers, Anobium, Kenning Editions, The Handshake, CityFiles Press, Quest Books, Faithday Press, Thompson Stamp Art and I Shoot Rockstars. Chicago Publishes is a city-funded organization that supports and promotes Chicago’s publishers, writers, and literary community. As a result of the city’s latest Cultural Plan, this organization and others are at risk of being shut down—their role (and hundreds of jobs) passed on to commercial businesses. Attend the lit community meeting this Wednesday at Powell’s to help work toward a solution.
Windy City Publishers
I was fortunate enough to meet Lise Marinelli of Windy City Publishers on my way to grab lunch at Standing Room Only. Windy City Publishers is a “hybrid publishing company” that will guide you through the process of editing, layout, design, marketing, registration, copyright, distribution, eBook decisions, etc. This is worth consideration, especially for first time publishers.
Comment below if you think I missed anybody, have something to add, or disagree with any of the above.