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!).
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?
MJS: 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.