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MEET ME IN BOTSWANA: WHAT IS BLAST PRESS?
A speech for national poetry month about BLAST PRESS.
by Gregg Glory
Ab li dolen in l'air [look up: beauty falls from the air]
"A book should be a ball of light in your hands." -- Ezra Pound
As we all know, April is "International Guitar Month." But my heart twangs for poetry, and I was invited here to tell you a little bit about a tiny poetry publishing company called BLAST PRESS.
Let's start with what BLAST PRESS is not. BLAST PRESS is not a community. It is not a community-building venture. It is not by, about, or for "the people." Unlike the pretentious anthologies that weigh down the shelves and slander the individual by gluing him into some historian's scripted story, BLAST PRESS is not a collection of individual voices expressing the vibrancy, meaning, and tradition of the creative community--nor of any community. In this respect, BLAST PRESS, as it critics have bitterly asserted, is nothing at all.
BLAST PRESS has published over 100 chapbooks by some twenty authors over the past two decades. Each author's work stands singularly alone and apart. BLAST PRESS does not take part in the mish-mosh of the magazine market, where a hundred tentative voices are corralled by brute binding into an ersatz herd. We go alone, each of us, to where the crocs swim alertly in the bulrushes and the nights are long. Meet me in Botswana, if you will meet with me at all.
What is a chapbook? A chapbook is a saddle-stapled booklet of plain paper stock folded in half with a sheet of colored card stock for a cover. In the first decade, booklets would be stapled together by hand, each staple closed with a bloody fingertip to save the two-cent per staple cost. All small publishers are unified in this regard: we are exceedingly cheap.
In the next few minutes, for a brief moment, we will hear the voices of some poets that have been published by BLAST PRESS. Their words have been put into chapbooks with a BLAST PRESS logo on the back, and my current address somewhere inside the front flap. Words torn from the air and swatted into print. That is all. But, that is everything.