Kate Siklosi lives, writes, and thinks in Toronto. Her criticism has been featured in various journals and magazines including Canadian Literature, JAST, The Walrus, and The Puritan. She has published five chapbooks of poetry, and her work has also been featured in various magazines and small press publications across North America, Europe, and the UK.
Dani Spinosa is a Canadian scholar and poet. Her work investigates the role of authorship and anarchist politics in digital and print-based experimental poetry. She is the author of one scholarly manuscript, nine peer-reviewed academic articles, four poetry chapbooks, and over a dozen literary publications.
Tell us a bit about your press. How did you start? Who are your influences, in Canada and beyond? What is your mission?
Gap Riot started, as the best things always do, in conversation. In the early months of 2017, we were discussing how too often, writers of formal or experimental poetry in Canada (including ourselves) had to go through a white man to publish a chapbook. So, we wanted to change that up a little and provide a space for writers to publish experimental, formal, political, feminist, and/or genre-blurring poetry that wasn’t governed by a dude. We sought out to break down cliques and barriers in the poetic community, and open more spaces for people to practice the poetry we love, with the hopes of bringing a community together in collective action in this work.
So, after months and months of batting the idea of starting a press around, we got one massive push from the late, great, incomparable, and dearly missed poet extraordinaire Priscila Uppal, who wanted a run of chapbooks made for the poems in her SummerWorks play, What Linda Said. We did those and then three more chapbooks by the most incredible first season we could have asked for: Adeena Karasick, Margaret Christakos, and Canisia Lubrin. And with the support of all these beautiful and fierce wimmin, we grew and grew into the unstoppable Gap Riot Press.
We take a lot of influence from bill bissett and his work with Blew Ointment Press; he fought relentlessly for the right to create and sustain communities through uncensored publishing and we owe a lot of our work today to his efforts. We’re also continually astounded at the ingenious creativity of The Blasted Tree, the gorgeous works of Baseline Press, and of course the indefatigable Rob Mclennan and his above/ground press, who has been a tireless mentor, connector, and community-builder for small presses and poets across Canada and beyond.
Our mission is simple: give folx space.
What about small press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
WIMMIN RUNNING THINGS. We love how many wimmins and womens and womyns and femmes and nbs and queer friends are making their own presses and publishing some really groundshaking works. These newer presses are not only addressing the gap in representation in what we read, but in how what we read is produced. There is a longstanding equity problem in publishing, and so we’re seeing a change in that with small presses cropping up who are breaking down traditional white male gatekeepership and shining long overdue light on diverse writers, editors, and producers. We need more of that. We can never have enough of that.
How does your press work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large?
Gap Riot has been a huge proponent of the small press community, and in and through our work, we honour the ones that came before us and paved the way for us to do this work. We also want to amplify the work of newer presses who are making publishing in Canada more accessible and equitable for more people. So, our work the past two years with the Toronto International Festival of Authors has been to amplify the work of small presses in spaces where they have traditionally been ignored. For too long, the commercial house and university presses have dominated publishing in terms of public awareness and readership. There is so much community, heart, and collaboration in the small press community that is deserving of some spotlight and attention, so we’ve made it part of our mission to amplify and uplift the work and voices of our comrades-in-cardstock.
In terms of our more immediate community here in Toronto, once we’re allowed to actually be in the close company of humans again, we’re hopefully finally going to realize our dream of starting a reading series that will hopefully encourage people to join our collective and create a broader sense of community beyond the cardstock and spine.
How have the current multiple global crises impacted your work with the press?
Mostly, things have been business as usual throughout the pandemic: we are announcing our books through social media, holding virtual launches, and selling our books online through our website. The ongoing, overdue calls for racial equity have laid bare the inequities of publishing, so we are also taking some time to revisit our goals for the press, and make more room for people we all need to hear more from to join us in this work.
Together, these crises have really hit home for us the value and necessity of collectivity and collaboration in our publishing model. We work with a small independent printer, David over at Product Photo, and it’s been great to be able to support him through some tough economic times. We also from time to time work with outside editors and artists on our books. We’ve been pretty happy with our shared production model because it allows us to collaborate with and support other independent folks in this work, and weather the hard times together through creativity
Terese Mason Pierre
Toronto-based poet Terese Mason Pierre’s Manifest is a gorgeous speculative/fantasy-filled journey to the outer limits of human desire. Mason Pierre’s romantic, dreamy, and ethereal language stops time: and in that held moment, we are transported to lands, beaches, and worlds that may only exist in our collective unconscious, but that move us toward a profoundly intimate understanding of what it means to be human.
Haldimand Tract-based poet Ashley Hynd’s Entropy is a break-up poem but, like, not the kind you screamed/cried/wrote at 16 while listening to My Chemical Romance under dramatic candlelight with a carton of Ben & Jerry’s. No, no – under Hynd’s hand, we are sent rebounding through heartache expressed seemingly only as heartache can: in experimental language and form that breaks, mends, warms, and devastates the soul.
A Performance of My Ecstasy
Kentucky-based poet Bunny Morris brings us a sensual, long-form sub-aquatic theatrical fantasy in A Performance of My Ecstasy. The work meditates on the performativity of sex using the author’s own experiences as a queer sex worker. The seductive fluidity of these lines break through the fourth wall of the play, thrusting the reader beyond mere voyeur: here, we bear witness to the too-rarely-explored agency and intimacy of transactional sex.