Shortlisted for the 2016 bpNichol Award and winner of the 2013 Diana Brebner Prize, Marilyn Irwin’s work has been published by above/ground press, Apt. 9 Press, Arc Poetry Magazine, bywords.ca, and Puddles of Sky, among others. the day the moon went away is her ninth chapbook. She runs shreeking violet press in Ottawa.
Tell us a bit about your press. How did you start? Who are your influences, in Canada and beyond? What is your mission?
shreeking violet press specializes in hand-made papery things by a variety of emerging and established writers. It began out of desire to make something for a reading I was performing at as part of being named a “Hot Ottawa Voice” by Tree Reading Series in Ottawa in 2014. I used a typewriter and handmade paper and needle and thread and conjured up four little items which I sold that night. Within the next year, I decided I would rather showcase other writers’ voices; soliciting those I admired and wanted to amplify.
What about small press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?
The volume of new presses and young authors popping up is exciting to see. When I was first introduced to the poetry community, everyone was a good 10+ years older than I was and, perhaps this is just my personal experience, but I am noticing younger poets publishing new work a lot more than 10-15 years ago. Fresh blood = fresh perspective.
How does your press work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large?
In recent years, I’ve been making a concerted effort to pull from a diverse pool of writers to ensure those who have traditionally encountered obstacles in publishing due to their gender, abilities, race, etc., are given special consideration. More recently, I’ve been attempting to solicit to the greater literary community, without luck. I’m not sure if it’s because we’re known for soliciting authors directly or if my social networks aren’t wide enough but it is something I continue to work on.
How have the current multiple global crises impacted your work with the press?
Frankly, the downward spiral of civilization (okay, maybe it’s not that bad?) has felt exhausting so I’ve been taking the time to focus more on my own creative pursuits versus the press’. I have one book in the pipeline but the author continues to send me revisions and I’m in no rush to publish, especially given I usually release books to coincide with the semi-annual ottawa small press book fair which has been on pause.
Caterwaul: Nine Poems
Caterwaul: Nine Poems is the latest offering from shreeking violet press, a collection of poetry from Ottawa author Michael Dennis. If you love cats, you will love this book. If you hate cats, you will love this book. Lovingly hand sewn, this book stemmed from a conversation where Michael asked me if I would publish him noting I would have the honour of choosing the prompt. I chose cats, not knowing Michael hates cats (or does he?). Think Eliot’s Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats but grittier.
Eleven Elleve Alive
Stuart Ross, Dag T. Straumsvåg & Hugh Thomas
This inimitable book consists of original poems and translations by Canadian poets Stuart Ross, Hugh Thomas and Norwegian poet Dag T. Straumsvåg. Consisting of 60 pages, each book was hand sewn with love using eight different colours of ribbon and origami sheets of various designs. No two are alike! It’s a must read for those who like quality poetry written by established, dare I say seasoned poets, and enjoy translations and near-translations of topics which range from heart tugging to leg pulling.
Snowflake laced work by Ottawa-based poet Amanda Earl. A long poem made up of quippy, image-laden smaller ones form an icy urban sprawl of thoughts on surviving another winter; thoughts most Canadians can easily relate to. Pretty Sapphire Gin blue card stock cover, vellum insert and snow white cotton pages hand sewn with silver and white thread, this pint sized book measures 4.25” x 5.5”.