Monday, March 6, 2017

Happy Small Press Month!

On the first of March, Avid began a month-long celebration of small presses. Each week, we're featuring a different press at our Prince Ave. location. At the end of the week, we'll be raffling off a prize donated by the press itself (the prizes are, therefore, very awesome)!!

Avid loves small presses because they're run by teams of smart, passionate people dedicated to championing bold, outstanding, diverse literary voices. They're responsible for opening up exciting new possibilities in the publishing world, and putting writers in print who might be passed over by major publishing houses. The Avid family would like to personally thank independent publishers for putting crazy, weird, "out there" books in the hands of grateful readers like us. Small Press Month at Avid on Prince Ave. is our "Thank you."

Week 1: Catapult Press

It just so happens that March's Small Press Book Club is reading a Catapult title. Danielle Dutton's Margaret the First is a work of beauty. Read it to connect with Margaret Cavendish, 17th century writer, thinker, and all-around strong female; read it to immerse yourself in a shimmering fairy tale.

Catapult itself is an entire literary ecosystem: they publish books and an online literary magazine, offer writing workshops, and host an online writing community open to the public. Their beautiful mission statement is available online, part of which states: "We publish stories that celebrate life. In its continuously evolving, spontaneously rearranging development of possibilities. Stories that reveal all the layers—the sinews and hairy knuckles, the iron and meat of history and influence...Most of all, we publish stories that land us squarely, concretely, in someone else’s shoes." Oh, yes, they do.

Week 2: Dorothy, A Publishing Project

Founded by none other than Danielle Dutton (yes! That Danielle Dutton, author of the mind-bogglingly good Margaret the First), Dorothy has been called one of the small presses "slyly changing the industry for the better" (FlavorWire). Avid wholeheartedly agrees. They publish "works of fiction, or near fiction, or about fiction, mostly by women." Every fall, Dorothy publishes two books simultaneously. The books are paired intentionally as two works coming from differing "aesthetic traditions." Dorothy says: "A large part of our interest in literature lies in its possibilities, its endless stylistic and formal variety." Heart eyes emoji forever.

What's in a name? Dorothy "is named for head librarian, author, gardener, animal- and art-lover, bookmobile-driver, and great-aunt Dorothy Traver, who on every birthday gave a book with an owl bookplate."

Week 3: Coffee House Press

Coffee House is a rad press for all you "adventurous readers, arts enthusiasts, community builders, and risk takers" out there. They're based in Minneapolis, which means that a few lucky members of the Avid family had the privilege of meeting the Coffee House team back in January (during Winter Institute, a bookselling conference that was located in Minneapolis this year). They're truly lovely people. They also have an amazing imprint, Emily Books, a publishing project that publishes "weird books by women." This could not be more my jam if it tried.

Week 4: Two Dollar Radio, "Indie Book Publisher, Film Producer, Culture Maker"

Avid truly hearts this rad, family-run small press. They're bold and bright, publishing books in accordance with their motto "too loud to ignore." They also have some of the best cover art in publishing. Here I must quote them at length: "Our books and films aren’t for everyone. The last thing the world needs is an indie press releasing books that could just as easily carry a corporate colophon. Our work is for the disillusioned and disaffected, the adventurous and independent spirits who thirst for more, who push boundaries and like to witness others test their limits. We know we’re not alone. Let’s make some noise."

Pro tip: Check out their cool daily blog, "Radio Waves." My personal favorite is the weekly feature "Death Rattle of Culture."

Avid is abuzz with excitement for their upcoming release They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib. Don't even try to tell me that's not the best book cover you've ever seen... The pub. date is 11/14; pre-order today!

Week 4: Tin House

Tin House is a small press located in Portland, Oregon. It's also a really, really amazing literary magazine. They've published some weird, wonderful books that have captured the hearts of many an Avid bookseller. Rachel K. in particular is completely and irrevocably in love with Tin House.

I've also loved Tin House for quite some time, but they recently gained even more respect points in my book. The home page of their website currently displays the poem "Evil" by Langston Hughes, along with a heartening message in response to the 2016 election, part of which relates: "Now, more than ever, we believe in the power of story, in empathy, in inclusion, in the belief that all voices have the right to be heard." They have also began frequently posting incredible, timely poems on their blog. Check it out!

What's in a name? Tin House was named for its Portland home, an old Victorian with corrugated zinc siding known in the neighborhood as "the tin house."

Week 6: Graywolf Press

Graywolf, also located in Minneapolis, is a small press that particularly excels in the realms of poetry and essay. This is why we've chosen to feature them during the first week of April as an ideal bridge between Small Press Month and Poetry Month. While I don't play favorites... Graywolf is one of my absolute favorites when it comes to small, independent publishers. According to their mission statement, they publish books that "nourish the individual spirit and enrich the broader culture." Sign me up! Stay tuned for more Avid fangirling over Graywolf during the first week of April.

If you, dear reader, call Athens home, please stop by during the next month and help us celebrate small press at Avid Bookshop on Prince Ave.!

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