by Chiwan Choi
I want to say it’s been lazy here at Writ Large Press HQ (aka Our Messy Ass Apartment) since the spectacular release of Eulogy to an Unknown Tree and the Beyond Baroque incident on 1/12, but we had to hop right on to our next projects.
One is our next book. The other is the first LA Writ Large event.
ANTIDOTE by José Luis Peixoto
This is the book that changed the way Judeth and I started thinking about our press.
Before I met José Luis Peixoto, the José Saramago Award winning author from Portugal, a couple of years ago, we were still set on only publishing Los Angeles writers. That had been the mission we’d started with and it was (and is) still a good one. Then I met one of the biggest writers in Europe because he had just signed up for a slot at an open mic in Atwater Village and read 5 minutes from his book. Afterward, I told him how much I enjoyed his work and when I told him my wife and I ran a small press, he asked if we’d be interested in publishing his work. And this is when we revisited our mission and decided to open up to writers outside LA. Because, well, not everybody gets to publish José Luis Peixoto.
A couple of years later, we are in the designing stage for Antidote, a small beautiful book of stories José released as liner notes on an album by the same name from the metal band Moonspell. They collaborated on the project, the writer and the band, with each story inspired by a song in the album.
First thing we have done in the design process is to find the artist with whom we want to collaborate. This time, it is Michael Manning, an artist we absolutely love. Not only that, he is downtown based and one of the nicest people we know. He is doing a cover painting, plus 10 embellishment designs to go with the 10 story titles. We are super excited. Michael’s style fits the book perfectly.
We are shooting for a May 2013 release, depending on whether we can coordinate with José’s travel schedule. We obviously have never had to plan something like this with someone who doesn’t live in the US so we’re keeping things flexible.
I will write more about JLP, Antidote, and Michael Manning as the weeks go by.
Pop Up Bookshop @ Grand Park
Our PR/Events man Peter Woods is running point on what I do believe will be the first LA Writ Large event. LA Writ Large is what we are calling the downtown HQ/think tank/collaborative space that we are working hard to realize. Among other things, it will house the efforts to expand the Indie Press Cartel.
Anyway, there’s a nice and big (although that pink I can do without) park in downtown called Grand Park, stretching over many blocks east starting from the Music Center. They are planning an all day literary festival in early March and they have asked The Last Bookstore to run a pop-up bookshop at the park that day. The bookstore will be bringing out many used books and we are partnering up with them as LA Writ Large to curate and sell books from our favorite local presses and authors.
We are confident that this will be the first of many steps that Writ Large Press and our partners in crime, such as Kaya Press, will be taking together in the years to come. And if you’re an indie press (or artist or writer or urban activist or alchemist), you will want to be part of our collective.
Beyond Baroque Aftermath
After what went down at Beyond Baroque that tainted an otherwise perfect event for Eulogy, I heard from quite a number of people. And from what I heard, it was obvious that things needed to be different and fast.
Fortunately, Richard Modiano really stepped up and led the charge to implement a change in policy. And I am told that they did make one, which is to never charge a mandatory cover charge at an event like ours for small presses and local writers. It will be donation based, with nobody turned away for lack of funds. They are also cutting us a check for a cut of the door that they collected that night.
A big hat tip to Richard for sticking up for us and, you know, for what is right. There are some other things that hopefully will change internally, but for now, this is a great step forward and I’m especially happy for Billy Burgos and Jessica Ceballos, who continue to host events there.