To wrap up this week of Small Press Spotlights, the DWC's John Lawton chats with Nate Slawson, head minister of the funk at Cinematheque Press. Stay tuned to the DWC blog for more of these revealing glimpses into the vibrant world of today's small presses.
NOTE: O CITY REFERS TO A CHAPBOOK PUBLISHED BY HIS PRESS.
1. What inspired you to start up Cinematheque Press?
Starting my own little deal had been on my radar for a while. When I was in grad school I worked for other publications, and, like the “real world” publishing biz I came from, there were moments—a lot of moments—when it flat-out sucked. No cooperation, no sense of responsibility, no listening. Ever since kindergarten I’ve been labeled as someone who doesn’t get along well with others. But I think that’s bum rap. I get steamed at crappy teamwork. So I work on Cinematheque all by my lonesome. Actually, that’s not true. I work with the writers as much as they want to collaborate on design, layout, fonts, colors, pricing, and more. And that’s a big part of my process and the why-I-do-what-I-do.
2. What future do you see of small presses in our media soaked culture?
Small presses are kicking ass right now. I think the indies, the non-profits, and the super tiny are putting out some, if not most, of the best work. One way I think of it: Who reads books and chapbooks from small presses? People who know all kinds of books and usually enjoy talking about them. Who sells product from small presses? Besides the presses themselves, your favorite independent/co-op bookstore. This is the textual world I like living in. What is a profit margin? What is a business model? I couldn’t care less. Sure, some small presses will fade, and some small presses will grow, but the passion and the work is what we know (if I’m allowed to kinda sorta speak for others, too).
I suppose I should mention something about the Internets, too. Some of the best journals and presses do their thing on the web. The way we use the Internet to deliver content is an evolutionary process. I have some wild ideas, and I’m sure others do, too. And what do we have to lose?
3. What and who inspired the design of O City?
This goes back to the end of my first answer. Wayne found the art. There are a number of references to airplanes and flying in the poems (“A Prayer (O City—)” has the part about the bomber). I came up with everything else. I think what I (and Wayne) like most about the cover are all of the bomber’s cut-away compartments and accompanying tiny labels, which are obviously text but too small to read. Without getting too classroom, the art is like the poems in that you (viewer/reader) want to know all the ins and outs, but, as Yo La Tengo said, you can’t have it all.
4. What is the most engaging/appealing about Mr. Miller's work for you?
I am a sucker for projects, long sequences, book-length poems, those types of things. And while Wayne writes in a style so different from me, I am mesmerized by his faculty to excite, inspire, and confound me. O City is a Wayne Miller book and it is beautiful. His last full-length collection, The Book of Props (Milkweed, 2009), is amazing: a world staring back at writer and reader, a world that’s both real and pantomime. The final section of the book is worth the cover price alone.