So, I've been involved with the online poetry community since about 2005 when alice blue first launched. Weird to think it's really only been 4-5 years. And also weird to think it's already been 4-5 years. And as one who spend a lot of time online, reading lots of poetry blogs, reading lots of online journals, and reading a lot in print too, and being a subscriber of several small/micro presses-- I've seen a lot in the DIY world. In small presses doing small chapbook and journal print runs. I am the proud owner of a fairly sizable handmade chapbook collection which I have garnered from bookstores and writers and the presses themselves.
But I have not, as yet, participated. Or, not made my own. We at alice blue have always planned to have a print element but it always seemed like something we put off and put off and put off-- you know, life happens. Other things got in the way. We didn't have the money. The list of excuses can be quite grandiose.
This summer, I don't know what clicked. I was tired of waiting. I decided I just wanted to do it and screw all else. So I solicited some people, read through a series of really fabulous manuscripts, and picked two for a couple small chapbook runs. 100 chapbooks, 10 art books. All handmade.
And man. It's a mind-boggling lot of work. Ultimately, to me? It's worth it to take the time to make the book a piece worth keeping, something of as much value as what takes place on the inside. I got two of my friends (one with art book making experience, one with letterpress & papermaking skills who is getting ready to attend art school) on board. Hand made paper covers for the 100 print run. Letterpress on the cover. They will be archival. Printed on 30% cotton paper. A vellum inner sheet before the title. Hand sewn. To be uncompromising means everything takes too fucking long and everything runs late. It means it's labor intensive. It means hours in art supply and hardware and office supply stores looking at two different types of paper, both white, and deciding on which one is more appropriate.
It makes me all the more appreciate of the people who run micro presses. These labors of love. These things that are paid for out of pocket, not because you have any expectation of financial reward, but because you think the work itself is worth the time, money and attention. I could have paid for a new HD tv and digital cable? But no. I have stupid bunny ears and a converter that don't actually work. And a lot of time and money invested and nothing yet put together or assembled. But this weekend, the paper should be done. And the printing should be done next week. And then it's just a matter of having a wacky, wild sewing party to get those things together.
The art book is a bit slower. But man-oh-man is it going to be worth it. You'll just have to wait and see.
Either way, every time I see one new facet of this come together, the waiting and the work just seems more worthwhile.