DDB: Jaded Ibis Press is an imprint of the multimedia company, Jaded Ibis Productions. We publish and produce literature, art and music that are intellectually, culturally and environmentally sustainable. Our titles consist of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and hybrids. We’re best known for writing that reaches far beyond conventional literature.
Since January 2011 Jaded Ibis Productions and its imprint Jaded Ibis Press have gained national attention for our innovative business model and intrepid explorations into the newest literature and digital technologies. Jaded Ibis Press, its editors and authors have been the subject of feature articles, interviews and reviews in Forbes, Poets & Writers, The Brooklyn Rail, The Believer, Hyperallergic, Lambda Literary, American Book Review, and many other print and online publications. Our books have made a number of “Best” lists, including four list in O, the Oprah Magazine, The Times Literary Supplement, and others.
Recently, we’ve added three new series:
- #RECURRENT, edited by Janice Lee and premiering this fall with Joe Milazzo’s novel, Crepuscule W/Nellie. #RECURRENT publishes books that simultaneously continue the legacy of the novel while reimagining the form as an interface and interactive narrative of the future.
- Blue Bustard publishes two novellas by different authors in one volume. The series also premiers this fall with novellas by Beth Couture (Women Born With Fur) and Leslie McGrath (Out from the Pleiades), and continues in 2015 with novellas by Brian Bradford (Greetings from Gravipause) and Nathan Hansen (Forget You Must Remember).
- We’re also establishing Bowerbird, a series focusing on the new memoir, to be edited by brilliant poet Elizabeth J. Colen, whose poetry collection Waiting Up for the End of the World: Catastrophes, we published in 2012. Most of the memoirs we’ve published, and those coming out in the next two years, beautifully reshape the topography of the genre and thereby expectations of readers. Four of our memoirists — Jane Rosenberg LaForge (An Unsuitable Princess: A True Fantasy | A Fantastical Memoir), Cris Mazza (Something Wrong With Her: A Real-Time Memoir, Dawn Raffel (The Secret Life of Objects) and Anna Joy Springer (The Vicious Red Relic, Love: A Fabulist Memoir) — discussed their memoirs at the 2014 AWP Conference, and the audience was intrigued, expressing a serious interest in not only reading eccentric works like those we publish, but also in writing them.
SW: The poetry at Jaded Ibis Press attempts to combine disparate experimental urges and new literary models in ways that maintain connective tissue to the tradition of poetries predating our present moment. We like writing that strikes out onto new territory without losing sight of what produced it, and we even have a martial term for it: Reconnaissance Literature, or the literature of the forward guard. This guard scouts on its own but maintains communication and crucial interests with the rear guard, in mutual interest. And though we want our writing to be bold, dissonant at times, chaotically musical, to push back against its sole category as literature by illuminating it with fine art, music, technology, and though we need it to transcend normative, accepted modes of communication and art, we still like it to be lyrical at times, always intelligent, clear and beautiful, and not a muddied reworking of the experiments of the past. I am certain Debra Di Blasi covered the technical aspects of how the press is different—the collaborations with visual artists, the technological innovations—such as the fact that we produced one of the first novel apps ever made—but we are guided by a deeper principle. Such innovations are anchored in this belief in the present of literature as a bridge between the future and its glorious, albeit daring and experimental, pasts.
NA: Could you say a few words about your background as editors?
DDB: Sam and I are both educators and award-winning published writers, and thus approach acquisitions and editing from those idiosyncratic perspectives. Also, we’re not youngsters. Sam’s over 40 and I’m over 50, and we’ve been reading, writing and publishing our own work all of our adult lives. I emphasize our ages because it attests to the amount of literary knowledge we’ve acquired — and we don’t read pap. Also, the mind processes information over the course of time, analyzing and reassessing and comparing/contrasting a burgeoning accretion of information. Sam and I read outside of literature, too, which is why we’re also friends. I read heavily in the fields of physics, neurology, bio and computer technologies, primatology, and entymology. I also keep current and well informed on global politics and economics. And I travel. A lot. I now live in Hong Kong, and my husband and I still have an apartment in South Africa that we visit every year or so.
Specifically regarding editing:
I do hands-on editing of our books, sometimes giving “assignments” to an author so s/he will go back and more effectively rewrite parts of the manuscript. What’s very important is that I not futz with the writer’s idiosyncratic style, that whatever changes I make improve that style within its own parameters — not within mine.
I think the diversity of my background does exemplify how I came to run a multimedia publishing company and make certain aesthetic decisions: I set out to get a degree in journalism and did study for a while at University of Missouri-Columbia’s famous Journalism School. But I’d already been “tainted” by poetry, having taken every course possible with Larry Levis and Tom McAfee. Eventually I earned a BFA in painting—though Kansas City Art Institute allowed quite a lot of exploration in other disciplines like video, bookmaking, and writing. While there, I wrote art reviews for The New Art Examiner instead of turning in art history exams because my professor thought I was wasting my talent writing test essays.
In addition to my experience as advertising manager and ad production manager while living in San Francisco, I also worked as an art critic for The Pitch weekly, and as contributor arts writer, and briefly editor, for the arts and entertainment magazine, SOMA.
And then there is my own writing which guides me in what I’m interested in reading: I’m author of six books of fiction, including Drought & Say What You Like: Novellas (New Directions); Prayers of an Accidental Nature: Short Stories (Coffee House Press);and The Jirí Chronicles, a “book without boundaries” consisting of over 500 individual works of prose, poetry, video, audio, music, visual art, websites, and ironic consumer products, stemming from the print book, The Jirí Chronicles (FC2/University of Alabama Press). This year and next I will be self-publishing multimedia literary experiments, Skin of the Sun: New Writing, and Gorgeous: The Fabulous Plastic Surgery of Dr. Harold W. George. Awards include a James C. McCormick Fellowship in Fiction from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, Thorpe Menn Book Award, and The DIAGRAM Innovative Fiction Award, among others. My fiction is included in many leading anthologies of innovative writing and has been adapted to film, radio, theatre, and audio CD in the U.S. and abroad. The short film based on my novella Drought, directed by Lisa Moncure, won a host of national and international awards, and was one of only six US films invited to the Universe Elle section of the 2000 Cannes International Film Festival. I continue making art, some of which appears in a couple of Jaded Ibis books.
Then, teaching: I have taught a variety of subjects at a variety of institutions and organizations, and I’ve presented (usually on the topic of experimental writing and/or technology) at the last seven AWP Conferences. For eight years, I taught experimental creative writing forms, literature and magazine production at Kansas City Art Institute, where I also worked as a Learning Specialist, tutoring in writing and teaching two Writing Foundations courses for students with learning disabilities or general writing difficulties. I now frequently lecture on topics related to 21st Century narrative forms as they intersect new and future technologies and hope to this year produce a “living” interactive guidebook on the subjects, specifically for creative writers and educators.
SW: Jaded Ibis Press was my first official position as a poetry editor. Of course, I have served as an editor for my own work and for the work of friends, colleagues and students, and I serve in my capacity as one of the point people for creative writing in my program at Framingham State University, where I am Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and advisor to the Creative Writing Club and the student-run literary journal, The Onyx. I have also taught writing and overseen fantastic projects by students in such places as Harvard College, Whitman College, the University of Missouri-Kansas City (where I met Debra Di Blasi), the New England Institute of Art (where I developed my allergy to for-profit education) and also as a graduate student at the University of Iowa. So I approach editing very much from the contet of a student-teacher relationship, very much the way Debra Di Blasi describes it above. My model is almost always that of a workshop, which requires a balance between three poles: ruthless editing and a keen eye for tired language; a quality of being able to imagine the future of the test without rewriting it; and finally, an overwhelming belief in and love of the writer, in very much the way one loves oneself: in other words, it is at times a relentless and unquestioning love, but it has always got to be productive and kind.
I was graduated from the English Department at the University of Virginia and went on to get a Master of Fine Arts at the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, which is where my life as a writer and, by extension, my life as an editor, began. I have published two books of poetry, Sunflower Brother, which won the Open Competition at the Cleveland State Poetry Center, and Everlasting Quail, which was awarded the 2000 Breadloaf Bakeless Award and was published by the University Press of New England. I have published a multitude of poems individually, in such journals as Harvard Review, New England Review, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, Georgia Review, Epoch and two anthologies edited by Kevin Prufer and Reginald Shepherd, respectively. In addition, I have published many articles at such places as Salon, CNN.com, Wired, San Francisco Chronicle. In all of these contexts I worked closely with editors. I’ve also helped to edit the work of such poets as D.A. Powell, Mary Szybist and Reginald Shepherd, in an informal role as they produced their poems in a workshop environment and in outside of the workshop classroom. Another crucial source of experience has been one-on-one work with students, conducted in the context of Independent Studies and in two cases, Creative Honors Theses which garnered high awards. In all those years I picked up the crucial skills one has to have as an editor: to help the author build on their voices without getting in the way of leaving any sort of a mark on the work that doesn’t belong to that author.
Other than those roles, as an advisor to students, colleagues and fellow writers, as Jaded Ibis is my first official editing position for a press, I have to say that I have learned so much from Publisher and CEO Debra Di Blasi about the brave new world of literary publishing we are in the midst of helping to shape. My specific technical skills about editing, publishing and marketing I continue to learn from Debra Di Blasi and Jaded Ibis Press. It is a great honor to be positioned to learn so much from the press.
NA: What inspired the name, Jaded Ibis?
DDB: I founded the original company, Ibis Productions, to manage taxes related to my personal publishing and speaking income. I took the name from one of my favorite children’s books, The Scarlet Ibis, a story significant for its mature literary themes and haunting symbolism — a children’s story for adults. Over the years, as I ventured deeper into experimental forms, and the publishing industry and academia became increasingly commodified, I added the “Jaded”. The word speaks for itself and for me.
SW: I’d also add that the name is a beautiful poeticism that brings to mind naturalistic associations, of course, but also the role of the ibis as one of the regal birds of Ancient Egyptian Pharoahs. To me, it suggests not only that we are connected to the history of culture, literature and history, that we are willing to play with that tradition as a press, but also that we envision a literature that belongs to the physical world. And as Wallace Stevens once wrote, “the greatest poverty is not to live in the physical world.” That’s what we try to do at Jaded Ibis Productions—not only in the work that we do, but our politics and attempts to keep our books affordable and sustainable. We also sleep in pyramids constructed out of books.
NA: What is your ultimate goal for the press?
DDB: My ultimate goal remains building Jaded Ibis into one of the most important independent presses in the United States, wherein writers and artists exploring deeper territories may find a place to publish. And where artists and musicians may find a new viewership beyond physical galleries. I continually question whether founding a significant independent publishing company is still possible. Jaded Ibis Productions is a financially burdensome task, and increasingly so because book reviewers from major media increasingly shut small, independent presses out of their pages—no doubt concentrating 98% of their reviews on books by the Big 5 publishers that, unlike us, have enormous advertising budgets.
I’m looking into shifting the company to a non-profit so that the Press will survive should anything happen to me or my husband, who generously invests in the company. Such a shift might also alleviate the weight of the many hats I wear in running the company. Those hats are heavy.
SW:Our goal is to print as many of the amazing books out there that have been neglected by the stifling and closed literary world, which appears to be less about quality, innovative writing, and more about cliques, clichés, log-rolling, publishing your friends and associates to position yourself and your own way of writing, and repeating the experiments of the past. Ultimately, this commits a double sin: the author writes the poems and stories of the past, giving current literature a bad name that doubles in on itself, and the readers are just other writers. This isn’t helped by the fact that there appear to be more writers than readers of Reconnaissance Literature in the West today. In addition, valuable and profound writing does not see print, because the cowbirds are in the nest. If this sounds harsh, I apologize to the actual cowbirds, who are in fact quite clever and lovely animals. We have such extraordinary problems today—principally, the way inequality and the crimes against the environment are attaining a kind of synergy. We need poets and artists and novelists to imagine scenarios and reinvent language more than ever—instead, we are getting the notes from careers. At Jaded Ibis Press, we are looking to put the witness back into poetry. It would be silly to say that our books (beauty) will save the world, but I would rather be foolish and believe that than believe in the present shabby state of the world of literature.
I want to give power back to writers and readers—a thing we do with affordable books and a reasonable royalties policy, and, above all else, by publishing great books. We are also bringing literature into the digital world, into the world of science and ecology, into the world of fine art and videography. We believe that the literary world has become far too pigeon-holed and isolated and provincial, (not to put too fine a point on it or anything), as well as being dominated by a few big publishing houses and celebrity authors and professional associations, none of which shall be named by me. (You know who you are!) Give literature back to the geniuses and the truly inspired—and by this I am talking about the act of writing and reading as a mutual process—one reader and one writer at a time. We want to find the Dickinsons and Blakes and Whitmans and Baldwins that are out there today, working at Wal-Mart and Geico as much as in the english department at a certain Ivy League school, which will go unnamed, at least in this paragraph.
NA: You publish books in other media besides print?
DDB: We publish most titles as:
- Full-color paper books with fine art created by renowned or emerging artist(s);
- Ebooks, increasingly more with color illustrations;
- Fine art limited editions, special order only. These are conceptual manifestations of the book’s story, theme or other intent. Examples: David Hoenigman’s Burn Your Belongings that manifests as 2-foot mako bamboo container inside of which is the book printed as a 180-foot scroll decorated with art by Yasutoshi Yoshida, and also hand gilded. Another favorite example is Alexandra Chasin’s novel, Brief, that becomes an oversized snow globe containing an artist easel of a bastardized Andy Warhol painting, miniature art books, and the novel’s words as “snow”.
Jaded Ibis also publishes digital editions beyond simple ebooks:
5. Interactive books for tablets. Examples: We: a reimagined family history a truly extraordinary novel by c.vance that should not be overlooked. Plus, the recent and highly lauded An Honest Ghost by Rick Whitaker. c.vance’s novel contains different ways to read the book chapters, music by Patch Rubin, and video. Whitaker’s semi-autobiographical novel is constructed entirely of sentences appropriated from over 500 books. By touching a sentence, the attribution — title, author, page number — pops up.
6. An “app-novel” written and designed by Alexandra Chasin, with innovative code designed by Scott Peterman. Brief (also mentioned above) was specificially designed as an app. It is published in print and as ebook, but those editions — though enjoyable because of Chasin’s magnificently rich writing — do not fully reflect her concept of intersecting a novel about art vandalism with an app that interrupts text with art and historical images.
7.The collaboration between digital genius Carla Gannis and poetic genius Justin Petropoulus, titled, <legend> </legend>, includes a redaction computer game, a 3D digitally printed globe, an exhibition, video and a print book. The multimedia product will contain documentation of all of the aforementioned and likely much more. I and the authors consider this a “living” book, a literary form I’ve been thinking about in my own work for the past few years.
8. Jan Millsapps’s project, Venus on Mars (Summer 2014), includes all of the above editions (except a coded app), including soundtrack by notable composer Phill Sawyer. Even better, there’s an interactive study guide, and Jan is working with Transmedia SF founder, Beth Rogozinski, on a documentary film about women in space. Jan is also a finalist to be selected as citizen astronaut for the Mars One mission to the red planet.
9. A collaboration between poet Katharine Whitcomb and Los Angeles artist Brian Goeltzenleuchter, The Art Courage Program, includes scents, retail installations, audio cassette (yes, cassette! — though it will also be available as a digital download) and “therapy” handbook. The project combines self-help with cultural criticism; and the collision promises to incite debate and commentary.
10. Dao Strom’s project, We Were Meant to be a Gentle People, is a song cycle working in concert with prose fragments and imagery, in order to articulate two concepts of “geographies” — East and West — and the mythos associated with each.
SW:I would just add that our books and the process of producing them is almost entirely sustainable. We use print on demand, so no books are destroyed or stored to be shredded later. Obviously the question belongs to the bailiwick of the publisher, and not the poetry editor, but I will say that we have a great thematic interest in this subject in our catalogue, especially titles like Imago for a Fallen World, by Matthew Cooperman, with Illuminations by Marius Lehene, and <Legend></Legend> by Justin Petropoulos and Carla Gannis, to name just two. In addition, the press is currently producing what promises to be an exceptionally disturbing and unflinching look at this issue from a number of poets’ perspective in the anthology Devouring the Green: Fear of a Human Planet, about which I will say more below. But the real proof is in the pudding: our process of creating, manufacturing and shipping books minimizes the kinds of harmful practices that huge publishing firms exploit for financial gain and to monopolize the industry.
NA: You have a certain environmental interest?
DDB: The scale and breadth of environmental degradation increases exponentially. Intelligent people seem not to care, or are so terrified that they behave like ostriches. I’m not terribly confident in the outcome for the human race. Nevertheless, I try to do my part in reducing the massive environmental waste produced by the publishing industry. That — and cost reduction — is primarily why we use Publish-on-Demand.
Consider this: A mass market book is published in an edition of, say, 300,000. Those books are shipped by truck or air (unfortunately not often enough by energy efficient rail system) to bookstores across the country. The title sells only, say, 10,000 copies. So the bookstores ship them back by truck or air to the publisher. The publisher remainders 200,000 of them and ships them back by truck or air to the bookstores. Whatever the bookstores don’t sell is shipped back by truck or air to the publisher, who then shreds the remainders or ships them once again by truck or air to places like Half-Price Books. When we think of “energy waste” in the publishing industry, we must think not only of the book materials wasted (“waste” meaning that far more books were published than were demanded) but also the energy waste of fuel expended, and the materials used in shipping (like wooden pallets and boxes and plastic wrap and packing material), and the manufacturing of the fuel and the shipping trucks and the planes, which requires electricity which requires some form of generation (usually filthy coal) which requires mining and shipping...
I now frequently think about ecologically disastrous systems like the one above, for not only publishing but also everything that’s produced, because frankly I think we’re fucked. We’re killing everything from our oceans to our ice sheets, from our rhinos to our amphibians and bees; we’re killing ourselves and each other. Sam’s editing a forthcoming poetry anthology, Devouring the Green: Fear of a Human Planet, that explores some of the questions and concerns related to the environment. (Sam discusses this below.) Early fall, we’re also publishing paintings by noted artist Michael Cadieux that addresses environmental degradation. Superbly edited by Jessi Malatesta, The Color of Being Born also includes comments about the environment by people from various non-literary fields, like Dr. Kevin Grazier of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab who was also a consultant on Battlestar Gallactica.
You are publishing an anthology in 2014 called Devouring the Green: Fear of a Human Planet. Could you say a few words about this anthology?
SW: Devouring the Green: Fear of a Human Planet, is a collection of poems that deal with the scientific concept of transhumanism: the idea that mankind has thought, manufactured, slashed and burned and replicated its way right out of nature. In the process, our species (we all know it) has managed to bring about a radical and massive transformation of the planet, and not for the better, either. Another word for it would be speciesism, and another name for our period—according to geologists and biologists—would be the anthropocene, a world totally absorbed by and centered around the interests of an elite cadre of homo sapiens. One quick statistic: our own time is measured by economists to be built around the greatest inequality ever known in history, and the richest man who has ever lived, a Mexican billionaire, lives today. Now consider the fact that we are moving into a world where clean drinking water is going to be a huge and valuable commodity. Can anybody guess what’s going to happen when the two syndromes achieve a kind of awful synergy? It spells more than just mass species death. It very likely spells the greatest genocide known to man. That’s just how the equation solves when a global world is fighting for fresh potable water, which also happens to be the subject of the next book by Justin Petropoulis, who is one of the contributors. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and the poets in this book imagine and prove that fact in deadly, toxic, moving, courageous, darkly hysterical and enormously moving poems.
This anthology tackles the prospect of such an overwhelmingly transhuman world, and the victims of it, including many of us. This is a world in which our bodies are increasingly poisoned, increasingly medically and technologically enhanced, and likely to be 30% cyborg and technologically controlled in the near future. This is a world in which roughly half of species on the planet are likely to be functionally extinct by mid-century, and in which the oceans are likely to be massive tombs. Doesn’t such a world need visionary poetry to guide it? Don’t we need to imagine and visualize the nightmare in order to be in a place to even begin to tackle it? This, along with the prospect of New York City, Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco and large swaths of Western Europe and the coastline of India and Bangladesh underwater, should be dominating American poetry. But it isn’t. People are still downloading language from the internet or writing sonnets about grandad while God knows what economic and biological havoc is in the post. Shouldn’t this be what everybody is writing about today? The realities of the publishing industry described above insures otherwise: that we don’t ever read what is increasingly on the minds and in the soul-making of the best people writing today. The publishing powers that be continue to push outmoded and tired poetic models centered around tired reinventions of the past—post-confessionalism, conceptual poetry, neo-formalism, flarf, easy identity politics—instead of the crucial issues of our time and maybe even of our millennium. The voices in Devouring the Green: Fear of Human Planet include such writers as Tomaz Salamun, Susan Briante, Yuri Tarnawskiy, Stephanie Strickland, Carmen Gimenez-Smith, Elizabeth Colen, Marge Piercy, Terese Svoboda, Carol Frost, the late Bill Knott, Jerome Rothenberg, Micah Ling, Cathy Wagner and Harvey L. Hix, along with many others. We are so excited about this title—and readers are desperate for its content—and can’t wait to see it in print, with illuminations by the incredible visual artist Chris Arabadjis.
NA: Could you say few words about your other forthcoming books?
DDB: Our 2014-2015 Catalog can be found here. We’re proud of our forthcoming anthologies (Devouring the Green — discussed below — and Mutations on a Theme: Best Innovative College Writing, edited by Grayson Del Faro) and every book mentioned above. Likewise, we’re excited about novels, short prose and hybrids from well-known authors and debut authors that are to come. And we have some excellent fine art and music soundtracks on the way, too. Seeing each project come to fruition is one of my greatest pleasures.
SW: In addition to the anthology, one book of poetry I would like to mention is the other title we will be producing this Fall, Azimuth, by Carol Ciavonne, with 3-D art illuminations by the excruciatingly gorgeous visual artist Beatriz Albuquerque. (Her website is here: http://www.beatrizalbuquerque.web.pt) “If there is a little extra light at the edge of seeing, D.A. Powell writes of Azimuth, “it consists of “diversiform universes,” and such a phrase extends to time as well, for the book appears to belongs to many overlapping times as well as places. “Azimuth is illumined and illuminated by its relationship to the art and philosophy of the Italian Renaissance,” Powell goes on; “a keen chiaroscuro suffuses these poems, creating marvelous contrasts of celebration and sadness. 'A light diffused makes the darkness stronger,' writes Ciavonne, and 'fire is brightest at the top of the tongue'." This is an amazing book that belongs to a sort of timeless, navigational past and present that seem to have absorbed one another. Not only does it seem to take place on a ship crossing the Midwest Passage, but the speakers walk in living rooms and beaches on the West Coast. The reader is guided through these poems with an astrolabe and a cellphone, and they are poems of deep dislocation, discovery and loss. It’s an amazing book, and I’d like to include a poem here:
I want things. the beauty of bones, silk
and decorative. the green human presence
of utility, the lost look. because I am loved,
I can afford desire, keep it locked up.
what can you give to people you love?
they want things: all the birds that fought for fruit
in June, fig trees bound to each other by muslin.
impermanence. in the movie, the girl realizes.
only lovers can see love, the eerie light
on the cheekbones, every effortless kindness.
I am just like everyone. the smell of bread.
tomatoes, black crim and zebra,
the sediment of summer. I want things.
fuschia sky with sirocco, a fictional history.
not forgiveness; renewal.
-- Carol Ciavonne
NA: How do you find your authors?
DDB: We have separate submissions periods for poetry (March 1 – May 30; edited by Sam) and prose (September 1 – December 30; edited by me with above-mentioned Series exceptions). Sam and I read every manuscript in our prospective area. It’s increasingly daunting because of the rising number of really fine manuscripts we receive. 2013 was most heartbreaking, as I found 35 prose manuscripts that really deserved to be published but likely will not be because they are too interesting (best way to say it) for most publishers.
SW: Sometimes we solicit work from known authors, sometimes we choose books of poetry that come across the transom during the submission period, which is from March 1 to May 31 each year. We do a good job of balancing the poetry we ask for and the poetry that finds us—after all, one of the missions of the press is to produce poetry that is out of the main stream and has been missed or neglected. There is so much great work out there, and we like to keep our eyes peeled for it, often from folks who haven’t published much, which is often the third rail of American poetry. It’s sort of a wilderness approach, but not without the telegraph, camps, horses—if you can excuse a blatant reference to the show Deadwood.
NA: What are some of the happiest moments for the press? Feel free to provide one or two links.
DDB: When our books receive the notice they deserve, I’m delighted. Dawn Raffel’s gorgeous little memoir, The Secret Life of Objects, sold almost 4,000 ebooks in one day, which put it on the Nielsen bestseller list in its category and onto The Wall Street Journal’s bestseller list. Dawn’s book also made four “Best” list in Oprah’s magazines. Recently, Rick Whitaker’s novel was selected as a 2013 “Books of the Year” by Times Literary Supplement; “6 Great Books to Read” by Readers Digest; “19 Books You Shouldn’t Have Overlooked” and “Top 5 Fiction Books of 2013” by American Library Association/Over the Rainbow Books. Rick’s novel was also a finalist in the Lambda Awards and the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction. I should add that a number of our books receive very high critical praise, and a number of them are being taught at colleges and universities.
SW: I am certain that Debra Di Blasi has provided links to some of the good press Jaded Ibis has gotten throughout the years. Witnessing each of our books coming out is a happy moment, along with the opportunities to hear authors read their work in a surprising, not entirely literary setting that incorporates music, art, and other such contexts. My happiest moments have to do with witnessing the joy and intelligence our approach to publishing and book-making creates in the worlds of our authors, and to see that carry over to readers and viewers. These happiest moments are, as always, created by and start with the book, and what we are doing to develop and grow the book as published artifact, an art object with its own aura, and an electronic and animated phenomenon, all at once. Happy is of course, for me, a reference to enlightenment and grace, so this is certainly a well-chosen word! For the happiest moments, you should check out our catalog and read our books—<Legend></Legend> by Justin Petroupolos and Carla Gannis, An Honest Ghost by Rick Whitaker, Is the Room by Rosetta Ballew-Jennings and illuminated by Grace Roselli—all our books, in fact, and the process of seeing them brought into the world of the reader’s mind—are happy moments. I should also mention that the process of putting together our current anthology of poetry, Devouring the Green: Fear of a Human Planet, is an incredible experience and process.
NA: Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
DDB: I’d love to talk about my theories regarding the decline of readers of higher literary art, but that would be a tome. Let me just say, I’ve witnessed it over the past 10 years and suspect that the greatest cause is social networking and an insidious respectability given by increasingly more academics to writing that in no way challenges the intelligent reader.
SW: I would just like to add that the history of the book and its aura is only just starting. Please keep in touch with the press for the future of Jaded Ibis Press and the book itself, in all its incarnations and technological lives. Stay tuned—or should I say keep turning the page upside down?—for an ongoing process of book-making, illumination and the integrated artifacts to come!
NA: I’d love to close with another selection from one of your books.
DDB : Here’s an excerpt from Leslie McGrath’s novella, Out from the Pleiades, forthcoming this fall. The narrative of Mina’s coming of age is in tension with the fact that this is a cultural satire of the political left. It examines the question as to what kind of family culture might contribute to someone becoming a bully.
Mina-- born at the lip of a bullhorn
& at the tail of a political age was taught to speak her mind & speak it loudly she raised her voice more often than most students raise their hands more often than parishioners raise their hearts. Get out of Afghanistan, Imperialist pawns!
This she hissed at a counterful of soldiers breakfasting at a dingy diner near Westover Air Force base. With a swiftness she hadn’t counted on one rushed at her full-on, the top of his head hitting Mina’s solar plexus like a battering ram at a drum skin. Bent like a pin, she fell into the arms of another uniform --a woman with uncommon golden eyes-- who spun her toward the door, rasping, Please get out before you get hurt.
As she eased behind the wheel of her battered Subaru Mina glimpsed her petite savior blocking the exit & behind that camo’ed arm the lunging, livid faces of various military personnel.
Was it a ringing in her ears she heard? All in all it was just another brick in the wall. These words clanged through Mina like dumb electricity as she played her fingers over her ribs. She felt pain but where was the wound?
SW: The following is a poem slated to appear in Devouring the Green: Fear of a Human Planet. The poem is by Ilyse Kusnetz:
Before I Am Downloaded Into a Most Excellent Robot Body
dispatched from Server 4511984.2001.2013 location Epsilon Tower
route-com re: final/bot* status-conditional gr/yel
pref/code emetאמת sub/code תמ
In case I forget to tell you, 10 01 is binary for a sigh. 11 11 is me,
smiling. I’m told for some, I resemble this constellation
in which a beautiful, oblivious nebula swirls.
To others, I’m just ware, silicon. Rumors abound of a passage
through the aether, a way for us to spark forward into darkness,
pseudo-neuron by pseudo-neuron, program gone rogue,
saturating the air, dancing on the skin of the world,
disturbing not a single strand of spider web, so light, so purely
powered by sun and wind, our carbon mind-print would register
as negative. Should this come to pass, you’ll know we are
among you – still-breathing inhabitants of a doomed planet –
by a sudden glow, a questing thought, not visible, but felt.
Debra Di Blasi is an award-winning multimedia author of six books, including The Jirí Chronicles, Drought, and Prayers of An Accidental Nature, and hundreds of articles, reviews, poems and videos. Awards include a James C. McCormick Fellowship in Fiction from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, Thorpe Menn Book Award, DIAGRAM Innovative Fiction Award, and Cinovation Screenwriting Award. Her fiction is included in a many leading anthologies of innovative writing and has been adapted to film, radio, theatre, and audio in the U.S. and abroad. She frequently lectures on the intersection of narrative forms and technology, with recent lectures at M.I.T., Sorbonne University, Cal Arts, Associated Writing Program conferences and &NOW Innovative Writing conferences. She lives with her husband in Hong Kong.
Sam Witt's first book of poetry, Everlasting Quail,won the Katherine Nason Bakeless First Book Prize in 2000, sponsored by Breadloaf, and was published by UPNE the following year, at which time he received a Fulbright Fellowship to live and write in Saint Petersburg, Russia for a year. Witt's poems have been published in the Virginia Quarterly, Harvard Review, Georgia Review, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Fence, New England Review, Boston Review and Pleiades among other journals, and in the anthologies The New Young American Poets and The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries. His poems have been awarded numerous awards, most recently The Red Hen Press Poetry Award for 2013 and the Meridian Editors’ Poetry Prize. Witt is on faculty in the English Department of Framingham State University. His second book, Sunflower Brother, won the Cleveland State University Press Open Book competition for 2006, and was published in 2007. You can follow him on twitter here: @sambrownwitt.
Nin Andrews received her BA from Hamilton College and her MFA from Vermont College. The recipient of two Ohio Arts Council grants, she is the author of several books including The Book of Orgasms, Spontaneous Breasts, Why They Grow Wings, Midlife Crisis with Dick and Jane, Sleeping with Houdini, and Dear Professor, Do You Live in a Vacuum. She also edited Someone Wants to Steal My Name, a book of translations of the French poet, Henri Michaux. Her book, Southern Comfort was published by CavanKerry Press in 2010. Follow Nin's blog here. Follow Nin on Twitter here.