HTMLGIANT

Adam Robinson

http://www.publishinggenius.com

Adam Robinson lives in Baltimore, where he operates Publishing Genius Press. His book of poems, Adam Robison and other poems, will be published by Narrow House Books this year.

How Are Publishing Genius Submissions Going?

I used to do occasional “inside baseball” posts about running a small press, like this one from four (!) years ago. I guess it’s been a while. I find them clarifying, and usually after I write one I change something about how I “do business.” With that in mind, here are some numbers and thoughts related to Publishing Genius’s book submissions currently and throughout history. This year’s open submission period ends at 11:59pm on Monday.

Last year Publishing Genius didn’t even have an open period, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t accept books from submissions. It’s just that I was still working through 2012′s manuscripts. There were about 400 that year, and it took me too long to figure out my responsibility to each one. It’s really hard to honor every book, and I think I was intimidated by the force of dreams coming at me like a big, wet wave. I know the excitement of finishing a writing project—big or small—and the intense hope that comes with sending it off. READ MORE >

Behind the Scenes / 7 Comments
June 28th, 2014 / 1:05 pm

A “Baseball” Interview with Josh Ostergaard

The-Devils-Snake-Curve-356x535Last night the Kansas City Royals won their tenth game in a row, which should make my friend Josh Ostergaard pretty happy. He’s a Royals fan from way back, and that comes out in his new book from Coffee House Press, The Devil’s Snake Curve. The 256-page alternative history book is made of five chapters with titles you might not expect to find in a baseball book, such as “War” and “Nationalism.” These chapters are broken up into short sections, which also have titles. The first is “Kansas” and the last is “On the Beach” and along the way there are hundreds more, like “Cud,” “The Value of a Soldiers Life,” and “Another Take on Hair.”

These nonlinear sections weave through numerous subjects, sometimes about the roots of baseball and baseball traditions, sometimes about the strange cast of players and owners. Josh also writes funny anecdotes about his own experiences playing the sport, and the socio-political incidences that have occurred related to the game both in the US and around the world. War comes up a lot, and not just in reference to Abner Doubleday playing rounders in 1861 (or whatever). This is a serious book, heavily researched, and complicated. In fact, referencing the Royals’ current success is misleading, given how little attention Josh pays to the scoreboard compared to the game as cultural soporific or propaganda machine.

It’s interesting how many ways the book is characterized. Publishers Weekly listed it in its Top 10 for sports books while Shelf Awareness called it “a backdrop for American political history.” Epoch Times said it’s “a kind of Fargo of baseball books” (?). I like Eula Biss’s comment, who said it’s “like a box of eclectic baseball cards about our country and our culture—curious, compelling, and disturbing in turn.” 

You worked on this for years and years, right?

I started writing in late 2004. I remember flying to Amsterdam that Christmas to visit my sister and taking on the plane a pile of old newspaper clippings about Lew Burdette, the Braves pitcher who was good at beating the Yankees. But I think the genesis of The Devil’s Snake Curve was the year before, during the months leading to the Iraq war. Like millions of other people I was against what was clearly a war of choice in Iraq, and even in the New York Times there was enough doubt about WMD and about the lack of connection between Iraq and 9/11 that it was obvious our country was about to go off the rails. During those very same months, The Field Museum, where I worked, hosted an exhibition called “Baseball as America.” I went through the exhibit many times, and enjoyed it, but the more I thought about it, the less I was able to reconcile the mythology of the sport and of our nation with the incessant warmongering. Then we started bombing Baghdad. The Devil’s Snake Curve is my attempt to reconcile the darker aspects of American history with the ways professional baseball has been represented. That old cliché about the Black Sox—“say it ain’t so”—well, that’s how I feel, but with regard to the ways the sport has been used as a public relations vehicle for war during the past decade.

READ MORE >

Interviews / 2 Comments
June 19th, 2014 / 5:00 pm

Melissa Broder would like to offer you these new poems, handwritten, made with love and gifs. Read them online, analyze not just the words but the penmanship.

“I had a thing of words, and now they’re gone”

Tommy Pico’s Absent Mindr

unnamed

Poetry and eBooks have never played well together because, for instance, fixed line lengths don’t jive with the reader’s ability to adjust type size (poetry is too rigid). There are, of course, some clunky workarounds, like including a note for users to match their settings so that the longest line in the book is unbroken. Certainly this doesn’t have to be an issue; it’s something an HTML5 developer could solve quickly, I think—but why should they?

Limitations drive ingenuity. I’ve often wondered if, say, no one figured out how to make cars, would something else have been invented? Antimatter transportation!

Tommy Pico, who does Birdsong, released what he calls the first poetry App (for iOS and tablets) yesterday. Called Absent Mindr, it’s a “ch-app” he says—of course it is!—with 24 poems in four sections, situated alongside audio playback of him reading the poems, and bright collages by Cat Glennon.

The poetry is cool. That’s first. I really appreciate that the literature isn’t secondary to techcrunches, and the press release for this app is all about the poetry. Certainly it’s good stuff (read “Inheritance” at Best American Poetry), and Tommy “Teebs” Pico’s voice is pitch perfect on the audio (which can be listened to when you’re not connected, like on the subway, because all the content is a download), but what I’m really impressed by and excited about is the presentation, which is slick and gorgeous. It’s antimatter transportation to cars. The app considers the poetry, the art matches the tone. Books rarely match content with UX this well.

I think apps are expensive to create, whereas eBooks are free—but Absent Mindr suggests there’s a good future for presenting poetry this way. As startups like Atavist, Byliner, Oyster, Zola, Wattpad, Readmill (RIP) and Medium etc explore how to monetize this new frontier, it will be interesting to see what DIY pioneers like Tommy Pico create in the margins.

Anecdotally, I got my hands on the app just a day before I went to NYC for the Chapbook Festival. He did a good job spreading the word, because the room was abuzz about it (ie. three or four people mentioned the app to me while I was there). Chapbooks are a space traditionally reserved for handmade, crafty, papery books that fold, but they are open to sweet new fields like—may I suggest—chappbooks.

Author Spotlight / No Comments
April 16th, 2014 / 9:41 am

I Am Heavy Bored

It’s amazing how many times I’ve received this email, usually from a sane, diligent, intelligent and widely-published poet. Have your received it too? Have you done it?

I’m totes pro this sort of thing, cuz, whatever, it’s sweethearted and anyway I’m against more important things like reality TV, but when I first received it (from Mike Young—I told him it was going down on his permanent record), I thought for a minute about what poem I would send.

Then I realized if I did this, I could potentially receive a poem from ~20 people.

Who started this?

Some friends started a collective, constructive, and hopefully uplifting exchange, a form of email art exchange. It’s a one-time thing and we hope you will participate. We have picked those we think would be faithful, and make it fun. Please take just a few minutes to send an encouraging quote or verse to the person whose name is in position 1 below (even if you don’t know him or her). It should be a favorite text verse/poem/meditation/recipe that has lifted you when you were experiencing challenging times. Don’t agonize over it–it is one you reach for when you need it or the one that you always turn to.

1)
2)

After you’ve sent the short poem/verse/meditation/quote/etc. to the person in position 1, and only that person, copy this letter into a new email, move my name to position 1. and put your name in position 2. Only my name and your name should show when you email. Send to ~20 friends BCC (blind copy). If you cannot do this in five days, let us know so it will be fair to those participating. It’s fun to see where they come from. Seldom does anyone drop out because we all need new ideas and inspiration. The turnaround is fast, as there are only two names on the list, and you only have to do it once.

Random / 7 Comments
March 10th, 2014 / 9:58 am

Spencer Madsen’s Publishing Genius

I’m really sorry house about this.

Behind the Scenes / 2 Comments
March 6th, 2014 / 5:58 pm

Literature Party


Literature Party in Seattle tonight should be fun. If you’re at AWP, please come!

It’s a benefit party to support APRIL Festival, which is a big organization for making books awesome in Washington state. It’s at FRED Wildlife Refuge and doors open at 9. It’s not too far from the convention center. Tickets are $10 at the door.

It’s sponsored by FSG Originals and Submittable and yours truly, HTMLGiant. Vouched is putting in a pop up bookshop, and if you buy a book there, FSG Originals will give you a free one of their books.

Capacity at the venue is 450 souls, but I think you’ll be able to get in. However, I have overheard many people at the bookfair talking about how this is the one event they’re sure they’re going to.

Melissa Broder is reading. And Sommer Browning. And Amelia Gray. Those three people are three of my favorite, favorite people at AWP, a big thing filled with favorite people. Those three people are amazing performers of important writing.

Writing is a way to express ideas, and Melissa, Sommer and Amelia have the best ideas. Hearing them read inspires me, every time.

And after they read, there will be a big dance party featuring local Seattle DJs.

I’m in a big house where many of us HTMLGiant writers are staying. I think there are 12 of us staying here. John Dermot Woods just got out of the shower. He doesn’t write for HTMLGiant actually, neither does Spencer Madsen or Mira Gonzalez. Last night Mike Young came home from his reading and fell over a chair. There’s a hot tub at this house and I think there were 8 or so people in it last night at the same time. Downstairs Amy McDaniel is preparing a brunch for 50 people. I can hear Tim Sanders making Gene Morgan laugh loudly.

Come to Literature Party tonight?

Web Hype / 6 Comments
February 28th, 2014 / 12:58 pm

Edward Mullany Interviews Melissa Broder

BroderCover500pxEvery time a new book comes out from Publishing Genius, the author is interviewed by the author of the previous PGP book. I’m pleased to present a bunch of questions that Edward Mullany (author of Figures for an Apocalypse) posed to Melissa Broder (author of SCARECRONE). —Adam Robinson

EDWARD: Can you talk about the figure of the “Scarecrone” as she relates to your book as a whole? What is her significance? 
MELISSA: The Scarecrone personifies my fears around time, death, and the loss of physical beauty / sexual desirability. She is a dry succubus, a cautionary tale of the inevitable and the perceived inevitable. She is a mirage. But she is a powerful mirage. She is dangerous in her unreality. She may have something wise to teach. On a social level, one might say she is the ghosts of discarded women in a culture obsessed with youth, though this book doesn’t really fuck with culture, because I don’t really fuck with culture. I fuck with me, mostly, and my own obsession with youth. I fuck with time. I fuck with fucking. Also death.

To your mind, is the difference between “the inevitable and the perceived inevitable” a significant one? What is that difference?
I made the distinction here, because death is (historically) inevitable, whereas time’s slow, cruel drain on my worth as a human being is a perceived inevitability. Where did I get this fear that to grow old is to become worthless? Did I get it from culture? From my mother? From nature? It isn’t a truth in the way that death is a truth. And intellectually, I know it’s not a truth at all. But to me, on a visceral level, it’s a very real fear. And it dictates a lot of my actions. And I can probably make it true if I believe it enough, or at least I can will my own misery. So I guess I’d say that the inevitable and the perceived inevitable are different, but that one’s reality and one’s perceived reality are the same.

You mention that the Scarecrone can be understood as a sort of succubus. Does this suggest that your poems are concerned as much with the supernatural, or spiritual, as they are with the physical? Or does it suggest something else?  
I tend to negate the value of the physical world and reach for realms of fantasy, the imagined, the spiritual. I think that’s because I’ve always found it difficult to live in a body and sought union with something bigger than me for relief. It’s that tension between soul and body that compels me to write poetry. If I could choose my ideal god it would be a god that protects me from pain, from people, from life–a god that makes me feel blissed 100% of the time. It would basically be heroin, except it wouldn’t be a false god, because I wouldn’t be dependent on anyone or anything for it. And I would never come down. And believe me when I say that I have tried to make many tangible things into this god. And believe me when I say that you always come down.  I mean, I have had a lot of those peak experiences in life–those ecstatic whoa moments that feel lotusy and like I imagined ‘spirituality’ would be.  I am a succubus for those moments. But I’ve found that even when they aren’t attached to a drug or a lover or a guru or X or Y,  they aren’t sustainable. But then there is this other kind of spirituality that is tangible, not as showy, the kind that works through people, action based, pause-based, stillness, quiet moments of gratitude for nothing, a not-reaching for glitter, a more Earthy spirituality, laughter. Its lack of glitter, its humanity, is counterintuitive to me. And it is exactly what I need. It has been instrumental in keeping me on the planet.
READ MORE >

Author Spotlight / 12 Comments
February 25th, 2014 / 3:52 am

Broder’s SCARECRONE


read Melissa Broder poems and preorder her new book
[gif by Molly Soda]

Author News & Author Spotlight / 6 Comments
February 11th, 2014 / 2:46 pm

Introducing Barrelhouse, a poetry press

MarksCover

Great news! Barrelhouse is putting out its first book of poetry. It’s by Justin Marks and it’s called You’re Going to Miss Me When You’re BoredI asked Barrelhouse editor Dan Brady some questions.

Has Barrelhouse published books before, aside from the journal?

Last year we published an anthology of pop culture non-fiction called Bring the Noise, which was kind of a greatest hits anthology from the magazine, but it had some new stuff too. That served as a nice transition from working exclusively on the magazine to doing books as well. We wanted to learn how book production would be different from a print mag and work with people we trusted and who trusted us to do a good job.

READ MORE >

Behind the Scenes & Presses / 4 Comments
January 20th, 2014 / 1:25 pm

Pretty Owl Poetry is a new online journal and they’re looking for submissions. Send them something shameful, they say, or surreal, or a tooth.

Do you explain your poems when you give a reading? Maureen Thorson raises the question.

Who’s using Medium and do you like it?

A Few Questions for Edward Mullany

FfaACoverWeb

This week Edward Mullany’s second book came out on my own press, Publishing Genius. It’s called Figures for an Apocalypse, and the stories in it (and poems that tell these stories) exist on the perimeter of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, before and after the inciting incident. Like there’s one called “The Parade of Rabbits” that goes “No one // saw it. /// It happened / after everyone died.”  I read Edward’s manuscript for the first time last summer, while I was on an Adirondack camping trip with my family. Lots of kids, so I floated out on a kayak on a still pond. By the time I drifted to shore I’d read it through and thought it was the best possible setting. In the intervening year and a half I’ve read the book in handful of other settings—at my desk, on the john, on the road, in long and short sittings—and every different setting also seemed ideal. Part of the magic of everything Edward does, I think, is how he brings the reader/viewer into his own mindscape. I asked Edward a few questions.

Is there humor in this book?
Yes, though not much. But it’s important that it’s in there. If the book had no humor in it, it would lack resonance because it would indulge in a pessimism that isn’t real. The only place that I can imagine humor being impossible is hell. Like, the actual “eternal fire,” in a religious sense. And I’m not trying to tell a story about hell. What I mean is that the book is trying to tell a story about the human situation as it exists in temporality (as opposed to eternity). And there is always the possibility of humor in this situation – the one that exists in time. In the same way that there is always the possibility of hope. Not hope that we won’t suffer or won’t die, but rather hope that our sufferings and deaths can have meaning.     READ MORE >

Author Spotlight / 2 Comments
December 19th, 2013 / 11:25 am

Comments About an Article About Comments

NMSlate

At Slate, Carl Wilson wrote brilliantly about Youtube comments and Stephanie Barber’s book, Night Moves, a transcription of the Youtube comments to Bob Seger’s song “Night Moves.” Here are the comments from that article:

Youtube aside, Bob Segar is truly one of the greats. Soulful, rockin’ and a great songwriter. One of the few who is equally believable as an all out rocker and as a tender, wistful balladeer. One of the greatest singers ever. He deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with Sam Cooke, Sinatra, Ella, Elvis and Aretha.
Coincidentally, Bob Segar was my very first real rock concert. I was 15 and I was blown away.
Side point to address the old vs new music conversation downthread: It is true that I will never experience music like I did with my 15 year old heart and all my musical memories are filtered through that 15 year old head that I lived in.
But now, I can listen to music with a knowledge and an understanding that I didn’t have then.
And I love that old stuff, but there is great new stuff too!
The Shins, Blind Pilot, Death Cab, Bob Schneider, Uncle Lucius, Black Keys, fun. and lots of others. Some will say that some of these are too derivative, but all music is derivative.
Sinatra, Thelonius Monk, Abba, Segar there are many, many more great musicians, singers, producers and songwriters in every generation.
To dismiss the current or the old as crap is the mark of a philistine who doesn’t really love music. They only love what music represents to them. Their youth,
And that applies equally to the fogies and the kids.
***

See, I always heard this on the radio as night NEWS.  I knew what the song was about. I just figured he was banging the girl working on the school newspaper with him.
***

READ MORE >

Mean / 5 Comments
November 27th, 2013 / 12:56 pm

Day One: An Amazon Joint

The publishing arm of Amazon announced that they’re going to publish a weekly journal called DAY ONE. It’s for the Kindle and will feature short stories and poetry. The first issue is now live. An annual subscription costs $20 but right now it’s only $10.

Their motivation for creating the journal is funny: basically, they say, sometimes it’s hard to know what to read next, “With so many things competing for your attention in this increasingly digital world … especially if you are looking for fresh voices and new perspectives.”

I subscribed.

The editor’s note from Carmen Johnson reiterates the mission, to “feed an audience of literature-hungry, time-constrained readers.” To do this, they went to MFA programs to find writers. They don’t name them, though this issue’s poem comes from Zack Strait, a student at Wichita State.

Along with Strait’s poem—called “Wrought,” and it is, heavily (“Grandpa could forge any object/from tobacco smoke//like a sideshow illusionist//when he worked for the Union/Pacific Railroad”)—there’s a short story by Rebecca Adams Wright called “Sheila.” Haven’t read it yet. It’s “22 pages” if your font size is the third smallest. Day One doesn’t list percentages like the other book I’m reading on my Kindle now: The Battle of $9.99, about the eBook pricing war against Amazon. However, this eBook is put together better than most, with easy jumping around and a nicer table of contents than I’ve seen on my Kindle Fire before.

There’s also a conversation between Strait and Wright. In the first question Wright asks about influences, and Strait says, “That’s a great question!” They seem very nice. The contributor notes are separated; there’s one for the writer and another for the poet. Maybe One Day we won’t have to distinguish the two  things. Day One does give equal attention to the illustrator.

It feels a little strange supporting Amazon this way, and having things I care about supported by Amazon. Strange reciprocity! Should it feel strange that suddenly Amazon—one of the biggest companies in the history of the world—finds something marketable about poetry?

Will Day One be as good as my favorite journals, like Hobart and PANK and Big Lucks? Will it be as edgy as the best online journals, like Robot Melon and NOÖ? Will it aspire to be more like VQR or New Yorker? Does Day One allude to Everyday Genius?

Would you publish with Amazon? I know there are a few htmlgiant readers who already do. How’s it going?

Behind the Scenes / 6 Comments
October 30th, 2013 / 4:05 pm

The NYTimes is starting a series about independent poetry publishers. The first interview is with Copper Canyon.

Flood Relief

Flood_full_web

There was a flood in Colorado and NewLights Press, which specializes in high-quality handmade books, is giving all the money they make this weekend to help fix things. Their books are beautiful. You should check it out.

Presses / 1 Comment
October 11th, 2013 / 1:36 pm

Big Lucks Books Wants Your Book

crying
Where were you when that journal Big Lucks announced that they were going to start publishing books? If you were on the Internet, you probably saw this news received to tears of great joy and unprecedented numbers of Facebook shares. That was fun. 2014 will bring books by Mathias Svalina, Carrie Murphy, Sasha Fletcher, Mike Young, and Mike Krutel. Nice list!

What’s more, starting today and going until the end of November, Big Lucks Books is reading manuscripts. They’re using Submittable, and according to the call for submissions, here’s what they’re looking for:

We want to read your novels, stories, poems, memoirs, and essays. We want completed works only: no excerpts, proposals, or elevator pitches. We want fizz. We want earnest. We want heartbreaking. We want innovation. We want provocation. We want our paradigms shifted. We want you to fuck us up.

Presses / 4 Comments
October 1st, 2013 / 12:12 pm

DAREDEVILS

coker AStephanie Barber’s movie DAREDEVILS (2013, premiering at the NY Film Festival next Thursday) is—among the many things that it is—a feature length narrative, and in itself an act of daredevilry. It is not an experimental film—that is, it doesn’t have much in common with the “traditional experimental film”—and it is a “movie” in the sense that it contains character development, relationships, dialogue, recognizable images, movement, music, and storytelling. The traditional three-act structure, however, is rearranged, subverted, and therefore not present to comfort you, and what’s more, the story demands your participation—and a rather rigorous participation. Like all stories, this one is a mystery, and you might say the involvement of the viewer in this story is similar to the mystery in which the audience sets out to solve the mystery. If reading the clues presented here will lessen your enjoyment of the movie, you know who you are and should stop reading now. Otherwise, read on. READ MORE >

Film / 4 Comments
September 26th, 2013 / 10:16 am