Shortlisted for the 2016 bpNichol Award and winner of the 2013 Diana Brebner Prize, Marilyn Irwin’s work has been published by above/ground press, Apt. 9 Press, Arc Poetry Magazine, bywords.ca, and Puddles of Sky, among others. the day the moon went away is her ninth chapbook. She runs shreeking violet press in Ottawa.
shreeking violet press specializes in hand-made papery things by a variety of emerging and established writers with special consideration given to authors who have historically been at a disadvantage in publishing.
Q: Tell me about your press. How long have you been publishing, and what got you started?
A: shreeking violet press specializes in hand-made papery things by a variety of emerging and established writers with special consideration given to authors who have historically been at a disadvantage in publishing. It began out of desire to make something for a reading I was performing at as part of being named a “Hot Ottawa Voice” by Tree Reading Series in Ottawa in 2014. I used a typewriter and handmade paper and needle and thread and conjured up four little items which I sold that night. Within the next year, I decided I would rather showcase other writers’ voices; soliciting those I admired and wanted to amplify. The first “thing” I made was my first and self-published chapbook “for when you pick daisies” in 2010, but it wasn’t under any press name.
Q: How many times have you exhibited at the ottawa small press fair? How do you find the experience?
A: My first ottawa small press fair as exhibitor was Spring 2015 and I haven’t missed one so I’ve tabled eleven times for shreeking violet press. Small press people are magical because they’re often making things for little to no profit and, more often than not, with blood, sweat and tears poured into their products. It’s a very encouraging and curious community. It’s dangerous to be surrounded by such coveted, usually limited edition items. You want to snatch everything up that catches your eye and be supportive of everyone’s hard work but you also want to break even. Making trades is a win-win which I often do when presented the option. One of my favourite parts is sitting down for drinks at a pub at the end of the day to swap stories of how everyone’s day went where I get to chat with either new friends or friends who live out of the city and who I only get to see as often as the fair occurs. I highly recommend tabling for people just starting out as it’s a great way to meet the community.
Q: Would you have made something specific for this spring’s fair? Are you still doing that? How does the lack of spring fair this year effect how or what you might be producing?
A: I was/am going to be publishing one or two books. The “when” is still uncertain. I’m awaiting final revisions from a mystery author of one of the books and the other book is mine which I still need to edit. I haven’t self-published a book of my own through my own press yet so I thought it might be time. The pandemic has bought us time to sit with our work and neither of us are in a rush to get it out the door by the end of the year so things may defer to next year. It’s a crapshoot at this point, really.
Q: How are you, as a small publisher, approaching the myriad shut-downs? Is everything on hold, or are you pushing against the silences, whether in similar or alternate ways than you might have prior to the pandemic? How are you getting your publications out into the world?
A: When the books are printed, they’ll be available through our Etsy store vs Etsy as well as at the fair. Aside from that, not much else has changed.
Q: Have you done anything in terms of online or virtual launches since the pandemic began? Have you attended or participated in others? How are you attempting to connect to the larger literary community?
A: I have not. I can’t get past how Zooming feels like I’m at work and I’m not one for the spotlight so I’m not interested in hosting or being a visible participant so my camera would be off and I would feel bad for not fully participating so I just haven’t bothered altogether. That’s not to say, I won’t. I think as the colder weeks pass, I’ll be more stir crazy inside and I already miss seeing familiar faces, so, it’s probably inevitable I’ll attend one or even some, at some point.
Q: Has the pandemic forced you to rethink anything in terms of production? Are there supplies or printers you haven’t access to during these times that have forced a shift in what and how you produce?
A: I’ve been avoiding stores due to someone in my bubble being immunocompromised and I usually do my shopping for book material in the real world so I’ll either break down and go to stores or find new suppliers online. This has been a contributing factor to not producing anything as yet this year. My printer works out of her house and we’ve always done porch pick-ups/drop offs so that wouldn’t be an issue.
Q: What are your most recent publications? How might people still be able to order copies?
Caterwaul: Nine Poems by Michael Dennis (2019), Eleven Elleve Alive by Stuart Ross, Dag T. Straumsvåg & Hugh Thomas (2018), and Wintered by Amanda Earl (2017) are the latest books hot off the press. These, and all other books and broadsides published by shreeking violet press can be purchased via our Etsy store: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/shreekingvioletpress.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: See above.