What Will Fill the Void? pt. 6: Wyvern Lit

The dark days aren’t looking so dark anymore! The void isn’t so void…ious? In case you didn’t hear, Origami Zoo Press is not closing anymore–at least, not exactly. Instead, our books are being brought under the excellent Bull City Press umbrella, along with our founding editor Rebecca King, who’ll join as an associate editor and help to expand their fiction section!

Still, there are more small/independent presses we’d like to feature in our What Will Fill the Void? series. You can read part one, with Michael J. Seidlinger of Civil Coping Mechanisms, here, part two, with Justin Lawrence Daugherty of Jellyfish Highway, here, part three, with Leesa Cross-Smith, here, part four, with Amanda McCormick and Tracy Dimond of Ink Press Productions, here, and part five, with Jedediah Berry and Emily Houk of Ninepin Press, here.

Today we chat with Brent Rydin of Wyvern Lit, a great online journal that has recently expanded into small press territory!

1449605326064Origami Zoo Press: Who/what/where is Wyvern Press?

Brent Rydin: As of right now, Wyvern Press is just me and Wyl Villacres, our first author. (I include Wyl because I really do see this press as a collaborative effort with authors. I want to take the same approach as I take with all the stories at Wyvern Lit, which is that the editor is responsible to the writer and not vice-versa.) As of right now, my focus is primarily on fiction, as it was initially with Wyvern Lit (before the incredible Emily O’Neill came aboard as our poetry editor), but I don’t know where the future will take us from a genre perspective. As for the question of where, I’m in Boston and Wyl is in Chicago.

OZP: Having already established a great online journal, what made Wyvern want to create a press to go along with it? How do you see the press and journal being related–will they strive to publish similar things? Or does the press have particular goals that differ greatly from the journal’s?

BR: Oh, shucks, well thanks for saying that. I definitely see the press and the journal as being intertwined – I actually first got to know Wyl because his story “Junk Mail and Hospital Bills” was in our first issue (and will be included in Here Is Where I Was Lost). I want to publish all kinds of stuff, but might try to make an extra effort to get my hands on manuscripts from contributors to the journal. I think Wyvern Lit has had a very eclectic aesthetic, but one that somehow comes together, and that’s something I want to keep going with everything I do. As for how it got started, I was actually working with the unbelievably talented and all-around fantastic Justin Daugherty in the formative days of Jellyfish Highway, but realized after a few months – I have no shame in admitting this – that I’m not a great collaborator in editor-editor relationships. I’m definitely a bit of a perfectionist, but I’m also a bit of a procrastinator, which can be incredibly frustrating when trying to make mutual decisions. A little after my (amicable; Justin is wonderful) split from JHP, I was reading Wyl’s manuscript and just figured the time was right. And as for the goals of the press and the journal going hand-in-hand, I’d love to use Wyvern Press as a way to get things moving with Wyvern Lit print issues and anthologies.

OZP: With new presses popping up pretty much every day, how does Wyvern hope to stand out, beyond publishing excellent work? What sets Wyvern apart?

BR: That’s a good question. Honestly, I want it to be set apart by a kind of recklessness (if that makes sense). Not irresponsible recklessness, but the same kind of recklessness that’s made the journal what it is, the attitude of publishing what I/we enjoy and not being concerned with the marketplace or the marketplace of ideas or whatever. Not being concerned with what else is out there, what’s being well-received, all that stuff. And that’s led to a surprising amount of cohesiveness, despite the degree of difference between so many of the stories. On top of that, it’s what I was saying about the way I want to work with the writers – their work is their baby (so to speak), and my top priority is to respect that. I try to make a point of not accepting any work if I wouldn’t theoretically be happy publishing it as-is, and I don’t suggest any changes unless I can either perfectly defend them or be completely okay with being told “no.” (Other than things like typos, etc., obviously.) And that’s not something that jumps out at a reader when they first look at a book or a journal, but I do think it makes a difference in the final product and how people experience it, and it’s definitely made a difference in building good relationships with the writers I’ve worked with.

OZP: Tell us a bit about the forthcoming first book, Here Is Where I Was Lost by Wyl Villacres, whose work seems to be popping up everywhere lately (and with good reason!).

BR: Wyl is just an incredible writer and an incredible human being, and I devoured the manuscript when he sent it my way. It’s a collection of stories, and Wyl’s got an incredible range – magical, anarchistic, lovelorn, mournful, optimistic, and a bunch of other adjectives that my brain is having trouble accessing right now, but just so real and so human – that manages to never be disjointed. I truly couldn’t be more proud and excited to have this opportunity to work with him in such depth, and couldn’t be more grateful to him for taking the leap on something new and untested and entrusting his work to me (again).

OZP: What else can we expect on the horizon of Wyvern Lit/Wyvern Press? Any other books in the works?

BR: My focus right now is on this particular book and on our upcoming issues (Issue Seven and our annual Haunted theme issue), after which we might be taking a brief hiatus. I’m new to the publishing game, and I want to do the best job I can of it, so I’m making sure I don’t rush anything. I don’t want to cut corners or get sloppy in the interest of output or momentum – that’s not fair to the writers. Also, like I said, I’m something of a perfectionist, so I have difficulty delegating responsibility on anything that I would normally do myself, which makes the whole process slower and more deliberate by necessity. I just want to approach the press in the same way I approached the journal – focus on whatever the task at hand is, and reassess the approach once that’s done. I can’t publish something great if I’m focusing on what’s coming after it; I know some people can, but I’m not one of them, and I also worry that that could lead (me, at least) to a kind of stagnation or avoidance of change, both of which I want to do my best to avoid.

OZP: Given unlimited time/resources, what’s a dream project you’d like to do with Wyvern Lit? Or a dream writer you’d like to work with?

BR: I have no intention of taking anything that isn’t a dream project or a dream writer. I’m living that dream right now.

A Second Life for Origami Zoo at Bull City Press!

Our new logo!

Our new logo!

Well, Zookeepers, we’ve got some very exciting news to share… Origami Zoo has merged with Bull City Press!! While the Zoo will still close at the end of the year, most of our authors, books, and even our founding editor will be joining Bull City as their new home.

Bull City Press currently publishes a small quarterly magazine, Inch, poetry chapbooks through the Frost Place Chapbook Fellowship, and the Bull City Poetry Prize series. By merging, Bull City and Origami Zoo are forming a Super-Press that will print both fiction and poetry chapbooks going forward. You can find most of the Origami Zoo authors, and their books, over on the Bull City website now, including Kate Bernheimer, Lena Bertone, Ben Hoffman, B.J. Hollars, Anne Valente, and Laura van den Berg.

OZP founding editor, Rebecca King, will also be joining the Bull City staff, led by the talented Ross White, to help oversee the expansion of this new fiction branch.

We want to, once again, thank everyone who’s supported Origami Zoo throughout the years and invite you all to follow us over to our new home at Bull City Press! Check out our new digs, the beautiful poetry chapbooks, and the latest Bull City release Memoranda by Michael Martone.

Stay tuned for more news and an interview with Bull City Press Executive Director Ross White.


What Will Fill the Void? pt. 5: Ninepin Press

In these dark days of an Origami Zoo Press on the brink of closure, many of you may have been clawing at your bookshelves, screaming at your stucco ceilings, wondering what on earth will ever be able to fill the void when we go. It is with that in mind that we embark on a multi-part interview series entitled WHAT WILL FILL THE VOID? wherein we spotlight other small and/or independent presses we love (and hope you will love too!). You can check out part one, with Michael J. Seidlinger of Civil Coping Mechanisms, here, part two, with Justin Lawrence Daugherty of Jellyfish Highway, here, part three, with Leesa Cross-Smith, here, and part four, with Amanda McCormick and Tracy Dimond of Ink Press Productions, here.

Today we chat with Jedediah Berry and Emily Houk of Ninepin Press!

tumblr_static_56f4efohrvok4scscg88c48okOrigami Zoo Press: Who/what/where is Ninepin Press?

Jedediah Berry: Ninepin Press is two people (Emily Houk and myself) in a house in Amherst, Massachusetts. It’s an evolving idea about experimenting with form in storytelling. It is also, at present, several dozen boxes of playing cards, a notebook of secret plans, and an ongoing conversation with some of our favorite writers and artists.

OZP: What are your goals as a press? You emphasize a love of “bestiaries, board games and card games, old maps, fairy tales, and cabinets of curiosities,” as well as “bold storytelling.” How do you see these all intersecting? One thing that immediately caught my eye about Family Arcana was the visual design, both in artwork and the artifice of it–tell me a little about the importance of form, presentation, or the package the story comes in. Do you have a response to writers who fret over experimental forms overshadowing the “writing itself”?

CardBox-Family-ArcanaJB: I’m a fan of the notion that a strong structure (whether it be an alphabetized list, the rules for a game, or even the plot of an old folktale) can free a writer to focus on the story and its characters. In this sense, form can serve as a means for emphasizing—rather than obscuring—the heart of the tale.

I drafted “The Family Arcana” on a stack of index cards, limiting myself to what I could fit on one side of each card. That format forced me to get right to the most salient image, piece of dialogue, or bit of characterization for each section. It was a lot of fun, and also oddly liberating! Later, I started shuffling the cards and reading from them at public events, which is how Eben Kling got involved. When he heard the story, he immediately latched onto a few of the images and wanted to illustrate them. I was familiar with his work, and was thrilled at the chance to work with him.

OZP: So far you’ve released two “books” as decks of cards (one a standard deck, the other a set of 12 story-poem horoscopes). What have you liked about working with these kinds of artifacts specifically? Were the forms conceived by the authors or the press or in collaboration?

Emily Houk: Making beautiful objects that tell a story is a satisfying feeling. There’s so much history behind decks of cards. They’re this esoteric thing that has become mundane, this ancient form of entertainment that has remained popular throughout centuries. That’s powerful. And putting fiction on cards has been tremendous fun. They make the story unpredictable, throw in a dash of wildness and risk. Audience reaction is a treat. Faces light up. People get a little uncomfortable, in a good way.

The idea of starting a small press that would publish stories in strange shapes evolved along with the first publication itself. Jedediah knew early on that his ideal form for “The Family Arcana” would be a deck of cards. He also knew that shopping a story around as a deck of cards would be a pretty tough sell. Around that time he did several readings from “The Family Arcana,” and other authors began coming up to us afterwards, saying “I want to do something like this!” There was so much interest that we decided we wanted to take a step towards filling that need. There’s no place publishing stories as decks of cards? Great. We’ll do that.

That said, we aren’t limiting ourselves to cards. We definitely want the authors we work with in the future to come to us with ideas and visions of the forms they’d like to see their work take. We’re hoping to snatch up projects that haven’t found homes because they’re just too weird.

cosmogramOZP: What’s on the horizon for Ninepin? Any upcoming releases you can clue us in on? Anything else in the works?

JB: We’re very excited about a poetry project which we’ll have coming out next year. Still a secret, but I can tell you that it’s also card-based, and that it’s thematically connected to Cosmogram (though it isn’t something we commissioned). We’re hoping to curate a few more projects with specific writers, then open the doors to submissions.

OZP: Given unlimited time and resources, is there a dream project you’d like to work on?

EH: I’d like to do something involving the fiber arts. Textiles, garments. Probably in the direction of folklore or fairy tale.

JB: An actual labyrinth built to house an interactive story composed over the course of several years by a group of visiting artists, writers, and designers. (Mysterious benefactors welcome.)

What Will Fill the Void? pt. 4: Ink Press Productions

In these dark days of an Origami Zoo Press on the brink of closure, many of you may have been clawing at your bookshelves, screaming at your stucco ceilings, wondering what on earth will ever be able to fill the void when we go. It is with that in mind that we embark on a multi-part interview series entitled WHAT WILL FILL THE VOID? wherein we spotlight other small and/or independent presses we love (and hope you will love too!). You can check out part one, with Michael J. Seidlinger of Civil Coping Mechanisms, here, part two, with Justin Lawrence Daugherty of Jellyfish Highway, here, and part three, with Leesa Cross-Smith, here.

Today we chat with Amanda McCormick and Tracy Dimond of Ink Press Productions! IPP comes highly recommended by our very own Laura van den Berg, who has a beautiful letter press printed novel excerpt available from IPP!

Origami Zoo Press: Who/what/where is Ink Press Productions?

Ink Press Productions: Ink Press Productions (IPP) is a collaborative effort based in Baltimore created and directed by Amanda McCormick and Tracy Dimond.

IPPlogoOZP: What are your goals as a press? You put an emphasis on “blurring the lines of writing, visual, and performance art.” How do you go about doing this?

IPP: Tracy and I are an ambitious pair in that we have many evolving goals for IPP. I think maybe the most important goal we have is sticking with our inclination to collaborate no matter how the “structure” of the press might change over the years. Our emphasis to blur the lines of genre in writing, visual, and performance art really comes from our collaborative process. We really try to disarm our pride and embrace each other’s creativity, and allow the art to go where it needs to go.

To deconstruct the phrase, “disarm our pride,” approaching each opportunity and project with a sense of openness, not relying on past success, has allowed us to maintain a flexibility. This is part of how we blur expectations. Precedent doesn’t decide what we do, an interest in creating something decides what we do.

OZP: What do you like about handmade books? How did you get involved in book arts/letter pressing? What are some of the benefits and challenges of that model?

IPP: There is a lot to like about handmade books – the freedom of non-traditional design, the chance to problem solve in a physical way, the ability to use non-traditional material, and the fact that they are visually interesting not-typical book-objects. From a publisher’s perspective, producing handmade books is a great way to get the writer involved in the design process. The handmade book-object is another way to communicate “book.” It speaks to the fact that the books we create are deliberate at every step. In this, we are able to further blur these lines of genre. Because we are so physically and conceptually attached to the book, we are able to constantly think how our books are performing while they are visual and literary entities. With the publication of handmade books, we are able to connect the body to our art in a unique and beautiful way.

In a way, the fact that we got involved with book arts and letterpress right around the time that Tracy and I met is the reason IPP came into being. Instead of adding to the stacks of perfect bound (and yes, equally important and often beautiful) books, we knew from the beginning that we were after something different.

Most of the benefits for us also exist in the challenges. Producing handmade publications can be complicated. We have to consider monetary resources as well as human power and the fact that certain types of books do require quite a bit of precision and craft – how do we play into our talents and work with our limitations? I that in system of restraint, the bud can really bloom.

OZP: What do you recommend for a new reader? What’s the ideal Ink Press “starter kit”?

IPP: We actually sell an IPP “gift pack” that includes our most recent publications, plus an assortment of handmade journals, prints, and ephemera. Besides that, I would encourage people to check out How to have a day by Megan McShea and All The People by Stephanie Barber (both included in “gift pack”). We published both of these earlier this year – they are great examples of our collaborative effort and genre-blurring sensibilities!

OZP: What’s in the works for the near (or distant) future?

IPP: O the future! the pure conglomerate of time we can never determine since it is always out of reach though we can hope to do everything right. Over the past three years we have been working hard to establish IPP, to give it focus but also enough flexibility to support our experimental art making. Of course, we hope to keep this going – which means we are doing a lot of foundational organizing in the near future. We want to be conscious of how IPP can be a sustainable endeavor, a life if you will.

Something we’ve agreed on in conversation is that “It’s still kinda strange to think that we have this thing that we built just because.” Both of our lives have changed dramatically in the three years since we established IPP. We’re still looking to create books that represent work we feel is vital to the world, but we’ve been moving a lot towards creating experiences for people. We hosted a genre bending variety show in late September. We paired twelve Baltimore area artists, then asked them to create a 5-10 minute performance. We’d love to do more of that – bring elements from different disciplines to a one of a kind performance. This takes a lot of time, but it’s so worth it.

As for projects, right now we’re really focused on promoting the press and our publications – we want our books and prints in the hands of people – this is where they thrive. Part of our efforts to do this is providing some deals for holiday shoppers. In addition to that, we’re excited to be pairing up with The Walter’s Art Museum on two book related events in 2016. We’re also planning to publish a couple books in the coming year and we’ve got a collaborative issue of espresso ink with Infinity’s Kitchen in the works. There are probably many things we haven’t thought of yet, I’m sure! Stayed tuned / Join our mailing list for updates.

OZP: Given unlimited resources, what dream project would you love to undertake?

IPP: An artist hostel-house-studio-print shop-event space! One of my longtime dreams has been to direct such a multi-faceted organization that not only supports collaboration and genre-blurring art, but also gives opportunities for artists of various backgrounds to come together with their skills and labor and create a family. One of the things we hold in high regard is the idea that money isn’t the only way to create a value system. In the ideal version of this dream project, we would operate collectively and provide artistic resources for people who might not have money but are able to contribute to the organization in other ways.

One of the projects we’d love to do in a space like that would be A GIANT HOUSE BOOK. It would be amazing to take an entire house structure, paint all the walls white, then allow people to contribute their stories by using their entire bodies to paint. Things would be constantly blurred or added to. I would love for this to be an ongoing project. Visiting artists in the hostel could perform site-specific work in this book-house. This brings the art and artist to a very personal level, something Joseph Young and Amanda discussed at the closing talk for his gallery exhibit.


Amanda McCormick is an outdoorsy, genre-blending artist. Some of her roles are printer, poet, performer, writer, and bookmaker. She is also the founding curator of Ink Press Productions in Baltimore.

Tracy Dimond co-curates Ink Press Productions. Her latest chapbook, I Want Your Tan, was released in May by Ink Press. She is also the author of Grind My Bones Into Glitter, Then Swim Through The Shimmer (NAP 2014) and Sorry I Wrote So Many Sad Poems Today (Ink Press 2013).

Ink Press Productions (IPP) is a collaborative effort based in Baltimore. Our mission is to blur the lines of genre in writing, visual, and performance art through the publication of handmade books, manual printing, and experimental events. Check us out online inkpressproductions.com.

What Will Fill the Void? pt. 3: WhiskeyPaper Press

In these dark days of an Origami Zoo Press on the brink of closure, many of you may have been clawing at your bookshelves, screaming at your stucco ceilings, wondering what on earth will ever be able to fill the void when we go. It is with that in mind that we embark on a multi-part interview series entitled WHAT WILL FILL THE VOID? wherein we spotlight other small and/or independent presses we love (and hope you will love too!). You can check out part one, with Michael J. Seidlinger of Civil Coping Mechanisms, here, and part two, with Justin Lawrence Daugherty, here.

Today we talk with Leesa Cross-Smith who, along with her husband, runs the already thriving, always lovely online journal WhiskeyPaper, which has recently thrown its hat into the chapbook ring.

Origami Zoo Press: Who/what/where is WhiskeyPaper Press?

Leesa Cross-Smith: Me and my husband, Loran. We publish one story (flash fiction) a week and a couple chapbooks a year.

BOTTOMOZP: What are your goals as a press? WhiskeyPaper has been such a great journal for the past several years now, how do you see the press interacting with the journal/building upon the journal’s work?

LCS: Thank you much! Our main goal is to keep it chill. To be able to publish really great stories and unique, awesome chapbooks for years and years. I can only hope that people read the chapbooks and want to read the stories online and vice versa. We’ve published one chapbook and two more are coming at the end of October. All three authors have been published in WhiskeyPaper…there is always a certain feeling I’m going for whether it’s an online story or a collection of stories for a chapbook. It’s all one big feeling to me, executed in a couple different ways or many ways, depending.

OZP: Tell me a little bit about your first chapbook, Don’t Ask Me To Spell It Out by Robert James Russell, and how it works as kind of an “opening song” for the press, how it reflects what you hope your press will do/represent in the work it publishes.

LCS: Robert is a super-talented writer and he writes about families and relationships and his work has a strong sense of place. I love reading about those things. He’s also in love with nostalgia, like I am. Nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. Don’t Ask Me To Spell It Out was an easy decision for us because I knew Rob was easy to work with, I knew people liked his work and the chapbook was nearly perfect when he gave it to me, which always makes things easier too. It was a perfect “opening song” and all of the chapbooks we will put out will have two things in common: 1-the writing will be aces 2-the writer will be easy to work with. That is something extra-important to keep in mind…editors want to work with writers who are easy to work with, flexible, kind, appreciative. And I guess that can be said for any profession/project, right?

THE FACE OFOZP: What’s in the works for the near (or distant) future? I hear you have two upcoming baseball chapbooks…

LCS: Yes! One is called BOTTOM OF THE NINTH by Wyl Villacres and one is called THE FACE OF BASEBALL by Robyn Ryle and they are both so good I am happily willing to put the WhiskeyPaper seal on the back of them. So stoked to get them out into the world.

OZP: Now that the paper part of WhiskeyPaper is a reality, will WhiskeyPaper ever start distilling its own whiskey? And/or printing stories on whiskey bottle labels?

LCS: Brilliant. This is totally something to put in our pocket.

What Will Fill the Void? pt. 2: Jellyfish Highway

In these dark days of an Origami Zoo Press on the brink of closure, many of you may have been clawing at your bookshelves, screaming at your stucco ceilings, wondering what on earth will ever be able to fill the void when we go. It is with that in mind that we embark on a multi-part interview series entitled WHAT WILL FILL THE VOID? wherein we spotlight other small and/or independent presses we love (and hope you will love too!). You can check out part one, with Michael J. Seidlinger of Civil Coping Mechanisms, here.

This week we interview Justin Lawrence Daugherty, publisher at Jellyfish Highway Press.

PrintOrigami Zoo Press: Who/what/where is Jellyfish Highway?

Justin Lawrence Daugherty: Jellyfish Highway press is, as we say, postindustrial bioluminescence. JHP is a press for work that stands out—both in authorial voice and narrative—from the traditional and expected. We want to publish risk-taking works and works that glow in the deepest dark. Our first three titles, all by women, represent perfectly the essence of what we are and hope to be.

We have no base of operations. Matt and I live in cities, but JHP is not rooted. There is no office. We exist within the community. As with Sundog Lit, the press interacts with the social media world and the writers found there, and we feel comfortable in that space. Jellyfish Highway Press is our authors, and is that sense of community. It’s not me or Matt. We are here only as sounding machines.

OZP: What are your goals as a press? How do you hope to stand out among the many great independent presses that seem to be springing up every day?

JLD: It’s easy to say that the work we publish will stand out as part of this postindustrial bioluminescence. More specifically, we will publish works that take risks and explore what it means to think of a book as both text and object. The book as a social artifact, a response to the industrial and the quotidian. Ashley Farmer’s The Farmacist is a perfect example of this, with its meditations on the dichotomy of the urban and the rural and the way the lyrical writing breaks down expectations of these settings. Your Sick addresses the domestic through real and imagined illnesses—as an example, one story sees a young girl who carries growing storms inside her. And Melissa Goodrich’s Daughters of Monsters is a phenomenal collection of often-fabulist stories that continue this trend of dismantling everyday life and exploring what the text can be in response to that.

OZP: What writers/books will you be publishing? What else is in the works?

JLD: So, I’ve mentioned the three we have slated for publication already. I don’t want to reveal too much more, though I think we have a good idea of who we will be contacting about publication in year two already. I’ll say that what we will continue to do is publish books by women, writers of color and writers in the LGBTQ community. This is important to us and to the community as a whole and we are committed to showcasing diverse books. Lastly, I’ll just say that we would really love to publish comics. More on that soon.

OZP: Who are some shoot-the-moon, long-shot dream writers (or other people/artists) you’d love to publish given the chance?

JLD: Oh, wow. Does this count as solicitation? Mary Miller, always, for false sense of quiet in her work and the devastation of her work in actuality. Mary, if you’re out there, and you’ve a 1,000-page space opera featuring talking squirrels, send it our way. Claire Vaye Watkins for her sense of place and environment. Amelia Gray, because she is a favorite, always. Traci Brimhall, because Our Lady of the Ruins is a phenomenal book and Cathy Park Hong because Engine Empire really struck me this year as an example of how you might stretch and bend a text. Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tess Fowler, the writer and artist at Rat Queens, because comics are great and I will publish anything by them.

OZP: If Jellyfish Highway were a fantasy football team, what would their team name be?

JLD: The Citizens, because we fully embrace the need to be great literary community citizens and think that this endeavor is one of the best ways for us to do that.

What Will Fill the Void? pt. 1: CCM

In these dark days of an Origami Zoo Press on the brink of closure, many of you may have been clawing at your bookshelves, screaming at your stucco ceilings, wondering what on earth will ever be able to fill the void when we go. It is with that in mind that we embark on a multi-part interview series entitled WHAT WILL FILL THE VOID? wherein we spotlight other small and/or independent presses we love (and hope you will love too!).

This week, we have an interview with Michael J. Seidlinger, the Publisher-in-Chief at Civil Coping Mechanisms.

CCMLogoOrigami Zoo Press: Who/what/where is Civil Coping Mechanisms?

Michael J. Seidlinger: Civil Coping Mechanisms (CCM) is a DIY kind of independent press that focuses on publishing work that remains as innovative, honest, and true to the authorial voice of the text. What that means, basically, is that CCM looks to publish titles that orbit their own unique range of emotion, often the sort of book that commands its narrative as much as it does the language used to navigate it.

The press exists because of the community that surrounds and contributes to the press, its online magazine, Entropy, and the blogspace, Enclave. Via a dizzying array of compassionate contributors and like-minded editors, the press is able to function without any geographical home. The press, much like the brand, is deeply embedded in the fluidity of the online social space. It almost always surprises me to think that we all live in different timezones.

OZP: What are your goals as a press? You talk about wanting work “so new, so different, that they renovate our notion of what literature can be.” How do some of your current titles achieve this?

blackcloudimportMJS: The aim, like the main aesthetic, is to continually explore what literature can be; this means being aware of new voices as much as the new choices/experiments being designed and administered by authors to invent new structures and means to tell a story. One such example is how Heiko Julien used social media to almost exclusively construct the material that became I AM READY TO DIE A VIOLENT DEATH. Another example is how Juliet Escoria helped promote her book, BLACK CLOUD, using Vimeo and the artistic expression that comes with transferring each story in the book into a filmic interpretation. A third? How about how Jamie Iredell utilized an incredibly difficult dual-layered narrative, complete with an immense amount of research, to explore his relationship with the Catholic religion in LAST MASS. It’s this sort of interplay and exploration that continues to excite me as both editor and reader and that’s what continues to be the main drive of the press: Discover and promote the passion for language.

OZP: CCM has developed a fairly extensive catalogue in the past few years. What do you recommend for a new reader? What’s the ideal CCM “starter kit”?

MJS: The ideal CCM starter kit? Hmm, tough one, mostly because I wouldn’t ever exclude a single title from the Catalogue. Hmm, I guess if I needed to answer, I’d focus on an assortment of work that whets the reader’s appetite. The kit would most certainly include Sean H Doyle’s THIS MUST BE THE PLACE (memoir), 40 LIKELY TO DIE BEFORE 40 (anthology), Joseph Riippi’s BECAUSE (novel), Juliet Escoria’s BLACK CLOUD (short stories), Brandi Wells’ THIS BORING APOCALYPSE (novella), and Shane Jones’

PAPER CHAMPION (illustrated novella). From there, I’d hope that the kit would provide some sort of wormhole effect, dragging them deeper into the Catalogue.

OZP: What’s in the works for the near (or distant) future?


MJS: Haha, we certainly have quite a bit on tap, both in terms of new books and new ventures. I can’t talk much about the latter but I’m always up for shoutouts so—we have the final quarter of 2015 set for publication, December 2nd:

Everyone Gets Eaten by Ben Brooks
Nothing but the Dead and Dying by Ryan W Bradley
I/O A Memoir by Brian Oliu
You and Other Pieces by Corey Zeller
Rules of Appropriate Conduct by Kirsten Alene
The Daydream Society by Evan Retzer

In 2016, CCM will be publishing a number of titles including the following:

The Sky Isn’t Blue by Janice Lee
The Depression by Mathias Svalina
The Last Book of Baghdad by Justin Sirois
Remember to Never Get Better by Madison Langston
Transitory by Tobias Carroll
Careful Mountain by Sara June Woods
Bruja by Wendy C Ortiz

And more. Wish I could go on and on but I have a tendency to ramble so I’ll shut up now.

OZP: Readers unfamiliar with the press may recognize you from the press’s catchphrase, which you tend to leave in the comment section of posts about CCM books on Facebook: “We’re coping.” I love what you say about this in a Poets & Writers interview: “We adhere to the idea that literature, especially bold literature—writing that doesn’t shy away from the problem, the pain, the worry, the doubt—can be one of our best coping mechanisms.” How do you see this idea interacting with your interest in the innovative, postmodern, surreal, and avant-garde, which some readers may categorize as art that actually obscures the problem and/or lacks a strong human/emotional core?

MJS: What some readers might find obscure others might consider enlightening. It really is relative, but the beauty of literature can be found in the way the structure of a piece and defy as much as it informs. One book might use more evasive, esoteric language to tackle a subject or series of subjects, but there is still something in the author’s act of writing it that adheres to that idea of a problem. Because there’s a reason a book is written—it isn’t written as merely an exercise. Well, I should clarify—our titles are not written under the idea of an exercise. It’s ultimately up to the reader to meet literature in the middle. But we’re all coping and it’s the reason a book, the one you needed at a specific point in time, has the power to energize and excite even the most jaded of readers.

OZP: If CCM had a superpower, what would it be?

MJS: To motivate and inspire any/all that read its titles to finish the project currently on their plate.

A Farewell from Anne Valente

Cover1-3-4-665x1024Since its founding in 2010, Origami Zoo Press had always been on my radar. I’d just completed my MFA program at Bowling Green State University, a two-year explosion of learning everything I could about literary journals, submissions, small presses and currently working writers. In reading so many issues of literary magazines, as well as reading fiction submissions for Mid-American Review, I discovered a number of new writers whose work it seemed spoke directly to me from the page. Among them: Chad Simpson, B.J. Hollars, Brian Oliu and Laura Van Den Berg. When Origami Zoo Press came into being and published the work of so many of my favorite writers, I became an immediate fan and read everything they produced.

When I received the news that my fiction chapbook, An Elegy for Mathematics, would be released in 2013 with Origami Zoo Press, I couldn’t believe that my work would be included in a catalogue alongside so many names I’d admired for years. I’d read each and every chapbook, along with the authors’ books, collections, and publications in literary journals. I’d had my local libraries purchase OZP chapbooks so others could read them too. And I admit I screamed a little at my desk when I opened the email that Origami Zoo’s editors, Sam Martone and Rebecca King, had taken an interest in my fiction too.

Beyond curating a wondrous list of amazing writers, including Kate Bernheimer, Ben Hoffman and Lena Bertone after my own chapbook was published, Origami Zoo Press creates stunningly beautiful books. I remember opening my shipment of copies for the first time when they arrived in the mail and marveling at the craftsmanship of Nate Pierce’s artwork – the cover image, a diagram of a hummingbird that felt like he’d scanned an image of my heart’s deepest wish for the perfect book cover – as well as the handcrafted inclusions with the deluxe edition: an audio recording, phases of the moon, and hand-folded paper birds.

I’m ecstatically proud to be a part of Origami Zoo Press’s collection of titles, and though I’m sad to see the press’s doors close, I know only good things are ahead for Sam and Rebecca – two writers in their own right who I’m glad to call friends and fellow authors. And I know I’ll keep reading each of their authors’ collections and essays and novels for so many years to come: I’ll be following them for life.

Anne Valente is the author of the short story collection, By Light We Knew Our Names, which won the Dzanc Books Short Story Prize and released in 2014. Her debut novel, Our Hearts Will Burn Us Down, is forthcoming in November 2016 from William Morrow/HarperCollins. She currently lives in New Mexico, where she teaches creative writing and literature at Santa Fe University of Art and Design.

A Eulogy for Origami Zoo

by B.J. Hollars

old-graveyard-11281969133FzO4We are (virtually) gathered here today, not to mourn the loss of our beloved Origami Zoo, but to celebrate her life. Those of us who knew her best know she’d certainly get a kick out of the solemnity of such an occasion. Which is why I call upon you to shake your solemnity, and instead, take a moment to reflect on the gift she gave us with the time she had.

I first met Origami Zoo in the fall of 2011. I was a younger man then, a newly installed professor in the hallowed halls of academia, and—to be frank—somewhat unprepared for halls as hallowed as those.

Case in point: I was writing essays about the existence of Bigfoot.

Well, that’s not quite right. In truth, I was writing essays about the existence of Sasquatch, an entirely different beast altogether (sort of…though not genetically speaking). But I digress…

The point is this: Origami Zoo indulged the work, championed it, and even gave that work a home. It wasn’t long before I rounded out that eventual chapbook with essays on the existence of the Loch Ness Monster and a giant turtle named Oscar. Though neither of those essays helped me fit in any better in those hallowed halls, O.Z. didn’t much care. Indeed, the collection must’ve seemed like lunacy, though now that we have the power of hindsight—and have since confirmed the existence of all of the aforementioned creatures (author’s note: do not fact check)—it seems our dear friend, Origami Zoo took a risk worth taking (author’s note #2: do not see “Book Sales” as proof).

All of this is to say that Origami Zoo took seriously what others wouldn’t. In my work she saw more than monsters, but humans, too, many of whom—for better or worse—believed in those creatures’ existence. Origamo Zoo’s confidence in the work was what eventually led me to the message I’d most hoped to share: that regardless of whether we were designed with fur or flippers or common flesh, we remain cohabitants nonetheless.

In some ways, our beloved O.Z. is no different than our dear friend, Sasquatch: both were here on this earth for far too short a time, though both will always linger. Indeed, I will never pass my bookshelf without glimpsing the wonderful work O.Z. has left behind; likewise, I will never traverse the wilderness without seeing Sasquatch’s familiar blur in the trees. Both sightings will always give me reason to smile—cause to remember what a better world we had with both of them still in it.


B.J. Hollars is the author of several books, most recently From the Mouths of Dogs: What Our Pets Teach Us About Life, Death, and Being Human, as well as a collection of essays, This Is Only A Test.

Origami Zoo Press is closing, but you can still get our books until the end of the year.

Sad news: We’re closing our doors

Logo-crampedToday, with heavy hearts, Sam and I must announce that we have decided to close Origami Zoo Press indefinitely. During our time as editors, we’ve had the great privilege to work with some of our favorite writers, who in addition to being dazzling wordsmiths are also some of the best people we could ever hope to meet or collaborate with. We’ve enjoyed the challenge of trying to put their stories, essays, and art into packages worthy of the interiors, greater than the sum of their parts. Truly, it’s been a fantastic ride, but over the last four years, both Sam and I have accumulated far more responsibilities than we had in 2011, and we no longer have the time we’d like to invest in the press.

So, we’d rather end on a high note (with Lena Bertone’s amazing Behind This Mirror!) and with a near perfect record than to keep publishing without being able to give future books and authors the time, care, and championing the way we want to and the way they deserve. A huge thank you to our authors and artists, including Angie Dell (our expert bookbinder for Kate Bernheimer’s Floater) and Nathan Pierce (our tireless cover art designer). And thanks to all of you who purchased, read, and reviewed our authors’ books. The support we saw from so many people in the literary community was really amazing. I don’t think we worked a day where we weren’t filled with gratitude for everyone who was helping us along the way.

Once again, enormous and endless thanks to everyone. We couldn’t have done it without you! We’re so grateful to have shared this chapter in our lives with all of you.