Speaking of community, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to get this blog to include contributions from other people. I’ve always hoped that it could be a resource for others engaged in similar activities, but perhaps it can also be a channel of communication for that community as well. My first thought on how to do this was to do simple profiles of other small presses and makers of artists’ books. But then it came to my attention that someone else is already doing that, has been doing it for awhile, and is probably doing a better job than I would. I haven’t given up on that idea completely, but I need to figure out how to steer it in a different direction.

And then, of course, there could also be interviews. And there will be interviews—in fact, this post is the first one (Really! Keep reading!). I thought it might be interesting to do the interviews with groups of people, asking one question about a particular topic. As usual, I’m doing everything on the fly, in the morning before I go to work, so I haven’t quite refined the system to have received multiple answers that I would post all at once. I’m excited about this first one, so it’s going up now. Here it is: a question about community, directed to Adam Robinson, the proprietor of the great Publishing Genius Press in Baltimore, MD.

NewLights: Publishing Genius is based in Baltimore, MD, and frequently publishes work by Baltimore writers. Does Publishing Genius make it a point to publish work by local writers and artists? And why? And are there other activities around publishing that you see as important for fostering local community?

Adam Robinson: Initially, I didn't have any intention of publishing writers local to my community. In fact, I didn't realize until last year that a significant portion of PGP books were from Baltimoreans (7 out of 18, basically). Then, when I did realize it, it came as no surprise. It made sense, not because Baltimore has a particularly rich literary community (which, as you know, it does), but because I seek out like-minded people, and I become friends with them, and I pay close attention to what my friends do. I do feel like it's one of my goals to promote my community's culture, and interestingly that is another way of expressing myself, personally. By publishing Megan McShea's book (forthcoming), I'm saying, "This is who I am, or what I want to be like." However, does this foster local community? I mean, it bolsters Baltimore's writers outside of the community, but I'm not doing a great deal to get the books into the hands of this city's residents. But one aspect that I think does foster the community, something that you pointed to in your blog post, is bringing in outsiders for the event, and showing them around town. Taking them to the amazing local literary hotspots like Atomic Books and Normals. Introduce them to people by hosting readings and encouraging the exchange of ideas. And not just that, but publishing and reading translations, I think, has been on my mind a lot lately. Because it's an important question: what is a community. There are worlds within worlds. Before I'm a Baltimorean, I think, I'm an artist. That links me with other artists, regardless of location. So I want to know what my fellow art citizens are doing in Spain and Iraq and Singapore. This last bit is perhaps more ethereal than the practicalities influencing your question, it's basically where PGP has been since starting out -- that the literature community takes priority over the municipality -- and yet 40% of the books are by writers who live within 10 miles of me.

Hopefully there will be more of these soon, hopefully they can be presented together. (Of course they can.) If this is a question that you’d be interested in answering, please let me know at newlightspress-AT-gmail-DOT-com.



On Monday I had the good fortune to see Ralph Nader speak at Colorado College. It was a great talk, focused on the increasing “corporatization” of American life & politics. (You can watch the whole lecture here.) He didn’t just talk about how bad things are, but gave lots of simple, practical suggestions for people to get involved and begin to change things. So, naturally, I wondered: what can I do, personally? And not just what can I do in terms of getting directly involved with politics/civics, but what can I do, what can the NewLights Press do, to integrate this kind of responsibility and action into daily practice?

One of the ideas that came out in the talk was the idea of “displacement” of large corporations by local businesses and economies—an idea very important to (and already well developed in) the building of more sustainable and responsible agricultural practices. But what is a local economy/ecology for writing and art? What role can small presses play in developing that local culture in a positive way?

One could argue that small presses, by nature of their being small, only participate in a local economy. But when I look at NewLights particularly, it’s quite clear that we haven’t engaged with our home community in a purposeful way in a long time. NewLights has published work by writers from all over the country—most recently by someone from Austin, TX, who was living in NYC when we started the project. J.A. Tyler lives in Fort Collins, CO (about 2 hours away from CO Springs), but publishing a Colorado based writer was an accident—that project began when NewLights was in California, before I knew that I might be moving to Colorado.

NewLights has resided in 4 different states in the last 8 years of its existence. The only place it was rooted in for a significant amount of time was Baltimore, where it began. So I could use the excuse that I’ve moved around too much to invest a lot in a local community. But that’s just an excuse, and now that things seem more permanent, the question returns: what can we do?

And the answer, very simply, perhaps too simply: publish Colorado writers! And when you do that organize readings and other events! Create a space-time for a community to develop! And when you work with a writer or artist from another place, get them out here to do an event, so that there is an exchange with other local economies! It really is that simple. But it’s also not that simple—more questions arise.

If the goal of the press is to publish “the best” writing that we can find (the “best” of our particular area of interest), then are those writers and artists going to necessarily reside in Colorado? And particularly in Colorado Springs? So what does it mean when, as a press, a commitment is made to publishing local work? Does that involve lowering our standards? Or will that commitment allow a space for that local work to grow?

I have a feeling we’ll come back to this….



& another "digital reprint," this one of a NewLights classic, Some Bees, by Lauren Bender. These are erasure poems, written by selectively crossing out words from a dictionary. 

Poems by Lauren Bender
32 pages, softcover, saddle stitched, 8” x 5”

Cover is letterpress printed and hand painted on handmade sisal paper, text pages are laser printed

Edition of 50


Out of Print



Or maybe like this, just better, not as sloppy: 



Still working on refining the text for the next book. Lately I’ve been thinking of it as an unpacking of the book as a domestic object, or a domestic space. The repetitive structure of time & duration and the repetitive structure of the book. Here’s some more text:

& this is where we can begin, thankfully. The pages of the book turn. With each page we are confronted with the repetitive structure of the design. The text hangs in a grid, suffused with light and legible in its predictable frame of negative space. In the spaces of the structure meaning takes its shape. The thick void that is the page articulates the letters, the words, the sentences. The shape of the margins tells us about the flow of the text. When the blankness interjects itself into that flow we sense a pause, a break, a breath. If the text area changed shape and position from page to page we would wonder how to read—is this one text? Or many? Where do we begin? In what order do we proceed? We, as readers, gather purpose from the repetition and predictability of the structure. We may ask for innovation in content, or even in literary form, but we often do so with an insistence on established and conventional visual structure. Visual structure is literary form. The text that will shatter your days is completely illegible until the right moment. And at that moment and, and that moment &

—light like that and dreaming just right; the light falls in layers over these sheets; it must be morning, and waking; and waking; and waking; and waking; and waking; just like that, just like that; unbelievable; and gorgeous; and waking; just like that—

—this beginning; this middle; this beginning; this middle; this light; this beginning; this middle; this beginning; this middle; this beginning; this middle; this light; this light; as broken; as such; as necessary; this light; this beginning; this middle; this beginning; this middle; this beginning; this middle; this middle; that middle; this beginning; this light; this light; this light; this middle; this beginning; this middle; this beginning; this middle; this is a holy place, the most human place of our everyday defeats; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; & morning; this beginning; this middle; that morning; just like this—

& this is where we can begin, thankfully. The pages of the book turn, the days fold into one another and stack up. The structure of the design of the book asks us not to pay attention, asks us not to see it. We read. We do not see. It is a space that we come to occupy, but we never see it—it is there, all the time, so frequent & familiar. All that we ever see are its stops & gaps. What if we were to look around, at this space, at this structure? What would we see? Could we see? How do we experience its repetition? How do we live inside a repetitive structure of time? How can we not live inside a repetitive structure of time? The book is our home, is our ultimate defining experience &



Spent the morning working on the PDF for the digital version of The Infernal Method, only to realize when I got to the end that all of the images had been converted to grayscale (for another project). Alas, it looks like re-scanning will be necessary before that goes up on the web. In the meantime, you can’t go wrong with a Hennessy Youngman video, this one is about Damien Hirst:



6:46 AM on a Wednesday morning and it feels like snow outside, and the fact that it’s 2012 is beginning to sink in. That familiar feeling that it’s time to get things together and move ahead. I’m back now, back at home, back at work. What now?

The College Book Art Association conference was wonderful, as always—great people, thoughtful presentations, interesting and fun conversations. I always wish those things weren’t so short.

There are not very many copies of What You Will left. It’s always so elating and so sad to see them go. But a book’s got to live its life....

What now? The next project is an artists’ book insert in the next issue of JAB. The offset/letterpress book mentioned in some earlier posts. The offset portions are done, beautiful, and here in CO in stacks and boxes, waiting patiently. And then after that there is The Heads, a book of poems by Justin Sirois, and an as-of-yet-undetermined book with Divya Victor. And who knows what else. The usual, I suppose. But what that is—who knows what else.

Will 2012 be a good year? I think we can make that happen. It’s the only reasonable thing to do.



& tomorrow it’s off to the CA, for the College Book Art Association conference. Below is an excerpt from the talk I’ll be giving with Mr. Kyle Schlesinger:

Reading is an experience that unfolds in time—the letters build up into words, the words into sentences, and the sentences into a text. That text is at once continuous and fractured. We see it as a line, moving relentlessly from the beginning to the end, but that line is precarious—shot through with cracks, fissures, breaks, white space. The line is an accumulation of fragments. The line is an accumulation of voids. The largest gaps occur in the transition from page to page, through the gutter or around the fore-edge. These are the crucial non-spaces of reading, when the technology of the book rushes up to meet our attention, when our conception of time asserts its artificiality; yet we, as readers, steadfastly ignore it. The lines of text and the blocks of the pages divide and spatialize time—sometimes arbitrarily, always artificially. Artificially because we don’t read like that, we don’t experience books in the way that the things themselves like to imply—in a straight line of perfectly divisible units in strict sequence. The text does not pass by our fixed viewpoint like the frames of a film. We read, we stop reading, we get distracted, we pet the cat, we back up, we start again, we read, we start to fall asleep, it’s a little warm in here, we read, we stop, we read, did you remember to?..., we flip to the end of the chapter to look at an endnote, we read, we stop, a word or phrase reminds us of something, we read, it’s time to eat, we grab a bookmark and wedge it into the space of the gutter, we close the book and now it’s all fore-edge again, now we’re back at the beginning. We walk away. We come back hours later. We walk away. We come back days later. We walk away. We come back years later. The text does not change, but it’s a different book every time we pick it up.