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Baseline Press, headed up by publisher Karen Schindler, is a micro-press based out of London, ON.
Tell us a bit about your press. How did you start? Who are your influences, in Canada and beyond? What is your mission?
Baseline Press is now in its twelfth year of publishing Canadian poets in hand-sewn chapbooks. Leading up to 2011, publisher Karen Schindler spent several years involved in the local poetry scene in London, in various administrative roles. Starting up a small press was seen as another way to support both the local and national poetry communities, and was modeled after the inspiring work being done at the time by Apt. 9 Press and Cactus Press. Baseline’s mission continues to be to create beautiful homes for poets’ words.
What about small press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
The inexhaustible energy in the small press community continues to be impressive—both from the well-established presses, and also the slew of new ones that have emerged over the last few years. Londoner Kevin Heslop, with the Antler River Reading Series, started up a video-interview series recently called “Talking with the Presses.” Excellent conversations—with Rahila’s Ghost, 845 Press, JackPine, Gap Riot…. Check them out. You can’t help but be impressed by the vigor of this community and the good work being done.
How does your press work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large?
There’s no question that this level of publishing is as robust as it is because of how small presses embrace their communities, both local and national. Baseline is very grounded in London, and wouldn’t be what it is without its local collaborations: from co-launching with other local presses, to a long list of venues/ bookstores who have supported the chapbooks, to artwork and design provided by London artists, to the funding from our municipal arts council… there’s always the sense that the whole local literary community is behind us. As well as local partnerships, there have been all sorts of other artistic interactions that Baseline has been fortunate to be part of: exchanging resources with other Canadian bookmakers and presses, participating in national bookfairs and festivals, and working with poets, artists and editors from across the country.
Tell us about three of your publications. What makes them special, needed, and/or unique?
Baseline will be publishing four poets in 2022: Jody Chan, Laboni Islam, Julia Lederer, and Jennifer Lynn Still. Each of this year’s poets has worked with an external editor: Phoebe Wang, Moez Surani, Jessica Hiemstra, and Sandra Ridley, respectively.
Laboni’s collection, Light Years, and Julia’s long poem, I’ve Been Thinking About Vanishing, will be first chapbook publications for both. Jody’s collection, militant, is a follow-up to their Trillium Award winning collection, sick (Black Moss Press, 2020). And Jennifer’s long poem, Legs, was the co-winner of the Malahat Review’s 2021 Long Poem Prize.
How have the current multiple global crises impacted your work with the press?
The health and social crises of late have presented challenges to Baseline’s creative timeline—with writers and artists being pulled in so many directions, and with materials availability becoming much less reliable. Baseline is incredibly grateful for the commitment, perseverance, and patience of its authors these past few years.