Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Indie Literary Market 2012: An Interview with Nick Power and Leigh Nash

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Stuart Ross (centre), Jim Johnstone (left) of Misunderstanding Magazine, Marshall Hryciuk (right) [Photo Credit: Gary Barwin]

By Amanda Miller

This Saturday, November 17, thirty of your favourite independent Canadian publishers—of books, magazines and chapbooks in the categories of fiction, poetry and non-fiction—will set up shop in one locale (The Tranzac Club). The Indie Literary Market is a fabulous opportunity to meet the presses and make direct purchases (including rare, hard-to-get items).

This is a curated event put on by Meet the Presses, a non-profit, unfunded, volunteer collective. This year, the winner of the $2,000 bpNichol Chapbook Award will be announced!

This week, I caught up with two members of the collective to discuss the atmosphere at the Indie Literary Market, the joys and challenges of organizing it, its future, and more. Nick Power has been involved since the original Meet the Presses events that began 28 years ago; Leigh Nash has helped organize all three ILMs (2008, 2010, and the upcoming 2012 event).

Open Book:

What do you look forward to most about the Indie Literary Market?

Nick Power:

Apart from the satisfaction of selling the work to interested strangers and friends there is a real buzz to an event that brings together people excited by new writing. Each time we do this it has the air of a fun reunion. You see people you don’t always have a chance to see. There are publishers from out of town, for example.

Leigh Nash:

Events like the Market are a great opportunity to find small, micro and independent press titles and limited-run chapbooks, broadsides and other literary ephemera that you can't find anywhere else. Many presses create/publish new work for events like this too, so it's often the first opportunity to get your hands on something hot off the press.


What are some of the joys and challenges of organizing this event?


Finding the right venue took a while. We’ve enjoyed being at Clinton’s for the last two but The Tranzac offers more space and a great central location. We’re a collective that’s slowly spreading out across the country so internet communication is the way we’ve gone. It’s not the same as hitting the streets together with a few posters in your shoulder bags or handing out flyers at readings.

A big thrill this year is that we’ll be giving out the bpNichol Chapbook Award to a small press author and an additional grant to their publisher.


We're lucky that it's mostly a joyful process—we've always had a great response from the broader literary community in terms of press participation and attendance. Finding a good venue is always a challenge; we want to maximize the number of presses we can invite, keep costs low, and land in a space that's easy to get to. This is the first year we're at The Tranzac, so we'll see how it goes—though I'm sure it'll be great! Meet the Presses is a great group to work with on organizing these things, too—there are always so many pairs of hands ready to jump in and do everything from admin to emailing to booking a venue to distributing flyers.


Stuart Ross once described the event as “a dream bookstore for small-press Canadian literature.” How would you describe the atmosphere?


We call it a literary market. I love going to the farmers’ market on a Saturday morning. I hope it has some of that charge.


There's a real sense of community that comes from spending the afternoon with other like-minded publishers and book-buyers; it's a fabulous space to inhabit. The room is always full of good energy, and as a publisher it's a great—and rare!—opportunity to interact face-to-face with readers. So much community action happens online now that it's important to have physical events to highlight the fact that we're all still making books. With paper, and staples and glue. And as indie bookstores continue to dwindle in number, events like these become more and more important; they're the primary way for small publishers to get work out into the world.


What are your plans for the future of this event?


We’ve been keeping (what started as) Meet the Presses going for 25 years. There are always new literary small presses coming on to the scene. We’ll be meeting after this event to plan the next event in whatever form it may take place.


We hope to keep them coming! As a collective, we've experimented with general literary, chapbook-specific and Toronto-based markets, and I expect we'll continue to host (at the very least) an annual event that showcases the work being done by micro and small presses. Meet the Presses is also now administering the bpNichol Chapbook Award; the presentation of the 2012 award will take place at this Lit Market, with this practice potentially continuing in future years—it's a lovely way to raise awareness for the award, the winners and small presses in general.

Learn more about Meet the Presses at their official blog, find out which publishers will be attending the 2012 event (30!), read the bpNichol Chapbook Award shortlist announcement or check out the Indie Literary Market 2012 event listing for full details to help you plan your day.

Photo: Stuart Ross (centre), Jim Johnstone (left) of Misunderstanding Magazine, Marshall Hryciuk (right) of Red Iron Press [Photo Credit: Gary Barwin]

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