Michael Carr and Dorothea Lasky on Katalanche Press

Could you talk about the origins of Katalanche Press? How it came about, what was the impetus for starting it, etc.?

D: Katalanche Press was a joint idea between Michael and myself. We met when I first moved to Boston and we always had a nice rapport between us. After a few conversations, we realized that we both wanted to run a press where our ideas could be seen and heard. I love book art and wanted to express this love as freely and fully as possible. Michael had done some beautiful journals on his own and I knew we would be great press partners. We have some very similar ideas about poetry and some opposing ones as well. What makes us the same also makes us different and this has led to a vibrant way of producing publications. My impetus for doing work for Katalanche Press has always been driven by my love of good poetry and good books, and primarily a love of the blend of visual beauty with text. It is my hope that Katalanche Press always produces publications of texts that are physically beautiful.

Katalanche Press is co-edited. Could you speak about how you share the responsibilities and work load – are you both involved in all facets of Katalanche or do you delineate tasks? How do you select projects for Katalanche Press – do you decide between the two of you about what manuscripts will be accepted or do you each individually decide on projects?

D: Well, at first Michael and I co-produced a journal called American Weddings and a chapbook called Poppers by Chris Jackson. After those two, we decided that we had a lot of ideas and projects that we both wanted to work on. It seemed to make sense for us to work on separate chapbook projects and so for the last two chapbook cycles (not counting Michael’s very recent releases) we have aimed at producing chapbooks around the same time, but as somewhat separate projects. That said, I think that we do bounce ideas off each other a lot and I know I, for one, have gotten inspired by something Michael is doing with a chapbook he has worked on and borrowed the idea for my own. As well, Michael is always ready to help me and does so readily and I hope the same could be said from his end.

M: With selecting manuscripts, the tendency is to solicit work from poets we admire – either from a longer familiarity with their work, being enthused by a reading, or other such circumstances. Poppers was a project we both wanted to work on after hearing Chris read these poems at the Boston Poetry Massacre – it also happened to be the right impetus to get us into doing chapbooks. Since then our working more individually has probably helped keep the press diverse and increased the number of projects we can do.

Each Katalanche publication is different from the previous, could you speak about what qualities determine the shape and direction of a project, i.e. the text, your finances, the influence of other publishers/works, and/or anything else?

M: I think that the design elements have grown out of finding the right material qualities to encase each text, as well as a sense of challenge and inspiration with each project, so it's almost inevitable that each of them has looked pretty different. It was intentional to do the Travis Nichols & Lori Lubeski ones as a pair of long narrow chapbooks since Dottie & I were aiming to release them at the same time, but in some ways they turned out to be at two different poles once we got through with the rest of the design. Sometimes also it's the borrowed ideas from other publications that get things rolling. Film Poems was definitely a case of this, where I saw an image online of a particular issue of Film Culture magazine – with the corrugated cardboard stock & the label across the top – and from there seeing how I could recreate that look and make it work as part of a new entity.

How do you fund Katalanche Press?

D: Katalanche Press is funded entirely by Michael and myself, with the occasional extremely kind donation from friends. Any profits from chapbook sales are funneled directly back for use in production. It is a labor of love and I spend way more than I make from it, but it is worth it, because it is something I believe completely in––the production of beautiful books.

Katalanche Press has also done some one time magazine publications. What is the relationship between these and the chapbooks? Will there be more of these in the future?

M: The one-off mentality of the magazines comes from the same perspective as what I said about determining a chapbook's design. It would be hard for me to think of American Weddings without Liza Minnelli on the cover, since that image was why Dottie & I decided to call the magazine by that name. Bling Bling, which was pre-Katalanche, came from wanting to see how small a poem I could get from someone but still find it marked by that poet's sense of craft – and that was more of an experiment rather than a particularly lasting concern. There also is a whole question of devoting one's publishing energy toward the magazine format rather than toward chapbooks or perfectbound books. I think, simply put, that chapbooks are what both of us currently find most compelling. There could be more magazines in the future if our interests go that way.

One of the many noteworthy things about Katalanche Press is its archival interest, you have a text out from Samuel Greenberg, could you talk about the relationship between these older works and the work you publish from contemporary poets?

M: I suppose each project I've wanted to work on offers a point in an aesthetic that gets developed across multiple publications. At this point there is still a lot of territory that could be covered, and publishing the Greenberg poems has been a chance to present something almost completely off the map. Whether your average chapbook-reading public for contemporary poetry can assimilate these poems by Greenberg I'm not really sure, but I found the work vital to my poetic sensibility and decided to see it through on that impulse. Despite the potentially scholarly aspect of printing these 90-year-old poems in newly edited versions, there was still something engaging and intimate enough about the project to make it seem right for publishing in this venue. And that Greenberg’s poems often are very strange & wonderful can hopefully come across. From the less distant past there are other poets too whose manuscripts I’d love to dig through for unpublished material (not to mention republishing small press texts that have been long unavailable), so there is always the possibility for more to print along these lines.

What are some upcoming projects for Katalanche Press? What do you foresee as the future for Katalanche Press?

D: My upcoming projects are chapbooks by Chris Carrier, Will Esposito, Eric Baus, and Monica Fambrough. In the future, we will hopefully work on collaborative pieces between visual artists and poets.

M: At some point there will be a joint-publication between CARVE Editions and Katalanche of a collaborative poem written by Aaron Tieger and myself. I want to reap the glorious benefits of self-publication.

Are there other presses or magazines whose work you find particularly engaging or would like to acknowledge?

D: I love all work by Ugly Duckling Presse. My favorite journals are 6x6, Fence, and Cabinet. Cabinet is a really beautiful periodical and every time I see it, my heart skips a beat. Seth Parker makes a journal called Skein that is really nice. I think Aaron Tieger’s journal called CARVE has a righteous aim. I love Braincase Press and Anchorite Press. Travis Nichols runs an audio journal called Weird Deer (http://www.weirddeer.blogspot.com) and it is the most amazing idea ever, because it provides an opportunity for readers of poetry to listen to what is usually only admired on the page. I think listening is really important for poetry.

M: I’m always impressed by what I see from Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, Anchorite Press & Braincase Press. More historically, Angel Hair Books has been a great model.

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