Friday, April 8, 2011

National Poetry Month Interview with Ethan Edwards, Founder Articles Press

Thank you to Ethan Edwards for today's interview about ARTICLES PRESS and its literary journal, ROOMS OUTLAST US.

Washington, D.C., based, ARTICLES PRESS publishes ROOMS OUTLAST US, a biannual print-only journal of poetry and poetic criticism, that also sponsors chapbook competitions for unpublished poetry manuscripts and hosts regular reading series at Iota CafĂ© in Arlington, Va.

In the spirit of Poetry Month, it is always helpful to poetry authors and readers to learn more about the publishing world. I think you’ll enjoy this interview as much as I did. I encourage you to pick up their books and journals.

Rooms Outlast Us started in 2009. How did you and the other two editors decide to start the journal?

Justin Kielsgard and I established ROOMS OUTLAST US, along with Articles Press co founder, Danika Stegeman, in order to publish small collections of poems through which readers can get acquainted with particular poets and the over-arching considerations that drive these poets' projects.  Each issue of ROOMS presents less than six poets, and we like to allow each poet 5-10 pages of space within the journal.  Articles Press' editors have always thought of ROOMS as a forum for longer poetic projects and representations--whether a long poem, a lyric sequence, or just a representative selection of work that a poet deems cohesive.  The journal's format and focus underscore our idea that a poem is a work of art; that in publishing the genre one inevitably takes on the role of curator and is, therefore, responsible for the manner in which the work is experienced.  ROOMS represents Articles Press' efforts to provide an engaging atmosphere for readers and a beneficial platform of exposure for poets.  

It isn't easy to keep a print journal going in this day and age. Authors and readers alike greatly appreciate your efforts and success. You also publish chapbooks and host readings at Iota. What do you think are the key factors that keep Articles Press growing?

Articles Press' development is due to the interests of readers, donors and artists, alike.  The directors and editors for the organization work diligently to make ROOMS and other Articles Press publications available, but without the participation of poets who submit their work for publication, and without an interested public body, Articles Press would lack any reason or impetus for development.  The inherent fact that poetry and art are invaluable to the activity of cultural self-reflection plays a large role in the organization's ability to grow, as well.  Establishments like IOTA Club & Cafe, and Artisphere seem to share this sentiment, and their efforts to provide locations in which the public can come in contact with the arts--including poets that Articles Press has published and/or invited to read--have been instrumental in expanding the audience for work that Articles Press publishes. 

What are your favorite literary journals to read? What draws you to them?

Ugly Duckling Presse's "6X6," which focuses on small groups of poets, is usually good for getting acquainted with a handful of poets as well as the ideas, or obsessions that inform those poets' works.   "Jacket," is a wonderful resource for finding (perhaps) unfamiliar poets whose work warrants further exploration.  1913 Press ("1913 a journal of forms") does a nice job of marrying poems, prose and print to ideas and forms of art.  "Bateau," seems to strive for creation of a space in which literature and the act of viewing art coincide, so Bateau Press' publications are of interest.  Also, Articles Press worked in conjunction with SpringGun Press, Inter|rupture, and Flying Guillotine Press to provide off-site readings during the 2011 AWP conference, so their upcoming publications and projects (online and print) are of particular interest, and should be very exciting.

What suggestions to have to authors who are considering submitting to Rooms Outlast Us?

Don't send just one or two poems, unless they happen to be long or sequential.

What is the most surprising thing that you've learned about publishing since you've started the press and journal?

I have been extremely surprised to hear about a general decline in interest regarding the printed book--no one wants to buy it, carry it around, collect it, etc--while a number of organizations and artists are creating unique and archival publications that are worthy of the same awe one might bestow upon visual art.  I think what I find most surprising is the idea that utterly commercial products--mass production publications you might hide on a shelf rather than display on your coffee table--can be isolated and sifted out of physical existence, while the most interesting and original examples of the spectrum seem to thrive within the (re)opened space.

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