Gordon Hill Press
Guelph, ONVisit Website
Founders and Contributors
Shane Neilson, Editor, is a writer from New Brunswick. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph at Guelph-Humber, an MA in English from the University of Guelph, and a PhD in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster. He has extensive editorial experience in Canadian Literature, serving as the editor of Frog Hollow Press, a Victoria-based chapbook press for almost twenty years and counting; a prose editor at Anstruther Press, a Toronto-based chapbook press; an associate editor at Hamilton Arts & Letters, a mighty online magazine based out of Hamilton; and he is the Poetry Advisor at the Canadian Medical Association Journal. In addition, Shane has worked with several Canadian presses to ready manuscripts for publication. Shane has edited many of the poets and poetry critics at the forefront of Canadian literature and has a wealth of experience that he brings to bear with both poetry and nonfiction manuscripts. Shane does not freelance and only works closely with writers publishing with Frog Hollow, Anstruther, Hamilton Arts & Letters, and Gordon Hill Press.
Jeremy Luke Hill, Publisher, was born in Guelph, Ontario. He completed both a BA and an MA in English Literature at the University of Guelph, and he’s been working in the city’s literary scene ever since. He founded Vocamus Writers Community, a non-profit organization that promotes book culture in the Guelph area. He also founded Vocamus Press, a local-centric micro-publisher that specializes in Guelph literature. Founding Gordon Hill Press as a national trade publisher is his next step in building literary capacity in the area.
Vannessa Barnier, Publicist, is an instigator, organizer, and facilitator. She attended the publishing program at Centennial College after receiving a B.A. from McMaster University in English Literature, Cultural Studies, and Critical Theory. Vannessa has diverse experience in the industry, first interning in the audiobook department at Kobo, then selling books at House of Anansi’s brick and mortar shop, assisting with programming and panel building for the Word on the Street festival, to working in marketing for University of Toronto Press, and most recently, working as a publicist for ECW Press.
Tell us a bit about your press.
Gordon Hill Press is a publisher of poetry, literary criticism (especially concerning poetry), and fiction that is stylistically innovative. We strive to include a wide diversity of writers and writing, particularly writers living with disability. We want to publish exemplary writing.
We were founded by Shane Neilson and Jeremy Luke Hill, who initially set out to purchase an existing small press. When that didn’t come to fruition, they decided to take all the preparations they’d already made and start a new venture, which became Gordon Hill Press.
What about small press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
Because we’re so new (only three seasons and nine titles under our belts), just existing and figuring our way through the industry is pretty exciting (and sometimes terrifying) all on its own. It’s also been exciting to see so many of our ealy titles get such positive critical attention. We’ve already won a national book award (Roxanna Bennett’s unmeaningable, winner of the 2020 Raymond Souster Award), and three provincial awards (Roxanna Bennett’s unmeaningable, winner of the 2020 Trillium Book Award for Poetry; Danny Jacobs’ Sourcebooks for Our Drawings, winner of the The Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick Book Award for Non-Fiction; and Amy Leblanc’s I know something you don’t know, winner of the 2020 Lieutenant Governor of Alberta’s Emerging Artist Award).
How does your press work to engage with your immediate literary community?
Engaging the local community has actually been a little tricky. Part of our goal as a press is to connect Guelph with the wider community of Canadian Literature, so we held our initial press launch in Guelph, and it was a fun way to connect with the local community. Since then, however, COVID and other circumstances have prevented us from having further local events, and I feel like some of that local momentum has been lost. On the other hand, Kim Davids Mandar (In | Appropriate, 2020) and Mike Chaulk (Night Lunch, 2020) are both Guelph authors among our first few seasons, so hopefully we’re representing our local area in that way at least.
Tell us about three of your publications. What makes them special, needed, and/or unique?
Our very first title, Roxanna Bennett’s unmeaningable, was an important book for us, not only because it was our first, but because Roxanna’s work embodies our mandate so closely. She is a disabled writer who writes about disability issues, but she is also just a tremendous poet, which is why her book has had so much critical success.
Our first book of non-fiction, Sourcebooks for Our Drawings by Danny Jacobs, was also an important title, because it established the kinds of innovative writing that we’re looking for in those titles, and it too was very well received, winning a New Brunswick book award for non-fiction.
Our first book of fiction, Geoffrey Morrison and Matthew Tomkinson’s Archaic Torso of Gumby, played a similar role for our fiction books, laying out an example of the kind of stylistically exploratory writing that we want to publish at Gordon Hill Press.
How have the current multiple global crises impacted your work with the press?
The impact of COVID has been suffered most by our authors, I think, and I feel really bad for them. As a small press, people don’t find our books when they browse online retailers, so most of our sales come from launches and readings and shows, all of which are online now. We certainly feel that as a press, but at this early stage in our development, we expect not to make money on most titles anyway, so losing a bit more than we anticipated isn’t the end of the world. For the authors, however, many of whom are being published for first time, this has been the culmination of so much work and expectation. To then be robbed of the experience of launching a book live and going to festivals, and also to have weaker sales than they would have had otherwise, must be very difficult.
In Saturn Peach, Lily Wang establishes a distinctive voice that is part heartbreak and part wise witness chronicling the strangeness of a technologized world. When asked to describe her book, Wang answered in her quintessential way, “There are things I never want to know but always know. Every day I live with them. Every day I live. I am like a young fruit. Like a peach, common, not the popular kind but oblate, saturn. I live and inside me this pale fruit, yellow and white. I take bites out of myself and share them with you. Maybe you taste like me. Maybe you hold this fruit and become a tree.” If ever there were a book that disarmingly – and seemingly effortlessly – encouraged its reader to become a metaphor, then Saturn Peach is it.
M. Travis Lane
Keeping Count, M. Travis Lane’s 18th collection of poetry, begins in the poet’s favourite terrain: short, condensed lyric that focuses on the natural world. “But pull a thread: music turns” Lane writes, and the book progressively defamiliarizes the reader, moving from ecopoetry to a longer poetry of interiority in the second section, concluding with a final section that focuses on issues of mortality. As George Elliott Clarke has written so aptly, “If you have not read Lane before, prepare to travel: Like T.S. Eliot, she wants you to have a transporting experience in your imagination. If you have read Lane before, prepare for fresh astonishment. She is Homeric breadth and Sapphic brevity."
In | Appropriate
Geoffrey Morrison and Matthew Tomkinson
In | Appropriate is a collection of interviews with Canadian authors, exploring how they work through questions of difference, identity, and appropriation in their writing. Edited by Kim Davids Mandar, and introduced by Daniel Heath Justice, the collection features interviews with Ian Williams, Ayelet Tsabari, Sanchari Sur, Eden Robinson, Jael Richardson, Waubgeshig Rice, Amanda Leduc, Chelene Knight, Mahak Jain, Wayne Grady, Alicia Elliott, Farzana Doctor, Michael Crummey, Arif Anwar, and Angie Abdou. The interviews address questions of appropriation that go beyond race and culture, extending also to gender, sexuality, ability, age, and other categories of difference. They ask how writers work to represent an increasingly diverse and complex culture in ways that avoid falling into appropriation.