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Andy Verboom is from subrural Nova Scotia and lives in K’jipuktuk (Halifax). He is publisher of Insomniac Press and Collusion Books, co-founder of long con magazine, and author of six poetry chapbooks, most recently DBL (knife fork book, 2020).
Tell us a bit about your press. How did you start? Who are your influences, in Canada and beyond? What is your mission?
Collusion Books is a micro-press that publishes print and digital chapbooks of collaborative poetry, as well as collaborations between poets and other artists. Collusion is an offshoot of the online quarterly long con magazine, which is dedicated to publishing artworks created in response to other artworks–and which is premised on ‘art’ as a long conversation among creators, a kind of asynchronous collaboration across years and decades and centuries. A strong precedent for this link between magazine and micro-press was The /temz/ Review and its 845 Press, but the print aesthetic Collusion aims for is somewhere in the impossible middle of 845 Press, knife fork book, and Baseline Press: perfect-bound and robust, expertly lean and seasonally thematic, and meticulously but elegantly designed.
What about small press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
Much of the poetry ‘industry’ (publications, prizes, creative writing instruction) is still built on a rather depressing presumption of individual poetic genius–but the profile of collaborative poetics seems to have risen in the last year or so, with chapbook and full-length collections launching through a few presses like knife fork book, Gordon Hill, Book*Hug, and Pedlar. Collusion seems to be entering in a sweet spot–as a press that’s needed rather than frivolous (“Who writes collaborative poetry?”) or redundant (“Who doesn’t publish collab poetry?”). In other words, it’s exciting to be relevant.
How does your press work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large?
While the ‘poetry chapbook press’ as a concept is inherently not-for-profit, Collusion is an explicit fundraising operation. The Collusion printing budget comes from grassroots support, and all revenues go toward long con magazine’s contributor payment fund, supporting not only other writers but also artists working in all forms. This means Collusion starts over from $0 every season and has to hustle hard–not a bad incentive to strong promotional planning.
Tell us about three of your publications. What makes them special, needed, and/or unique?
In addition to Collusion’s not-for-profit print publications, its digital publications aim to reward charitable giving. The first three publications included two charitable anthologies (made available to readers who had recently supported a charitable organization or an indie bookstore) and a pay-what-you-want showcase of pamphlet-length collaborations (whose revenues went to long con magazine). Is It Less Lonely Like This: isolation collaborations (April 2020) and Is This A Good Time: divination collaborations (July 2020), the two charitable anthologies, prompted a more digitally responsive approach to the chapbook: they appear as online chap-scrolls instead of page-partitioned, owned-and-distributed e-books, which is nice nod to the anti-capitalistic Commons. Access is restricted only for the first few months, after which these anthologies become free to view. The pay-want-you-want showcase, 2×4^1 (July 2020), presents four two-person collaborations, each in a manner that echoes the collaborative process undertaken by the collaborators. Grouping the pamphlet format–which, in length, sits halfway between the single poem and the chapbook–may be an innovative way to validate collaboration as an ongoing process.
How have the current multiple global crises impacted your work with the press?
Collusion Books has not been impacted by crisis so much as prompted by it. Launching the press six months earlier than planned, it was hoped it could encourage poets to start (or continue) writing in virtual collaboration while stuck in physical isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
MA|DE (Mark Laliberte & Jade Wallace)
Manahil Bandukwala & Conyer Clayton
Arlene Ang & Daniela Elza