Small Press Week #SPWpast

21 November 2016

It’s Small Press Week! Today we’re talking about the history of our press.

I’m Joanne Merriam, the Publisher of Upper Rubber Boot. I had toyed with the idea of starting a press for over a decade, since my days as a staffer at the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia, where I was one of two staff, doing everything the Executive Director didn’t do (essentially running the office and our programming, and helping our members and the public understand submission etiquette and industry standards). Working there both made me feel like running a publishing company was a possibility, and gave me a great primer on much of what I needed to know.

After I immigrated to the United States, I was having trouble connecting with other professional writers, mostly because I was mired in poverty and couldn’t attend workshops or the like. I met Molly Peacock at a reading, and she suggested that I start something that made writers come to me, like she had started The Best Canadian Poetry in English series.

I started URB in 2011. I ran a very modest kickstarter which gave me the funds to buy 100 ISBNs, and spent my two-week Christmas break releasing and promoting Heather Kamins’ Blueshifting and 140 And Counting: an anthology of writing from 7×20.

In early 2012, Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum approached me about an apocalyptic anthology, which became Apocalypse Now: Poems & Prose from the End of Days, containing stories by Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, and Pinckney Benedict. I started to feel “real” at that point!

Andrew has stayed on as an acquisitions editor for the Floodgate Poetry Series, which annually releases three chapbooks (short poetry books) in one volume. He is also co-editing the forthcoming Warning! Poems May Be Longer Than They Appear.

After the success of Apocalypse Now, URB has released a number of anthologies of speculative fiction: Choose Wisely: 35 Women Up To No Good, How to Live on Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens, and The Museum of All Things Awesome and That Go Boom.

We’ve also released single-author books of poetry by Peg Duthie (Measured Extravagance), T. D. Ingram (Hiss of Leaves), Lyn Lifshin (Marilyn Monroe: Poems), Corey Mesler (The Sky Needs More Work), of fiction by RJ Astruc (Signs Over the Pacific and Other Stories), Sergey Gerasimov (The Mask Game), and most recently by Argentine author Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría and translated into English by Lawrence Schimel (Memory: A Novelette).

I feel tremendously fortunate to get to work with talented writers on books that are important, that talk about vital things, and that challenge readers to think and act!


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