Monday, June 15, 2020

the ottawa small press book fair : home edition #3 : Simulacrum Press,

Hiromi Suzuki
Simulacrum press released its first publication in 2017. It was a box containing about 365 cards which made up a project of my own called Zoning Cycle. It set the tone of the press, it said please, if you like this, submit.

I began Simulacrum Press after discovering that Michael e. Casteels had continued and expanded Puddles of Sky Press since the time that I had known him in university. At the time that I was attending Trent University there were a number of us who were making what I called at the time zines, but which I would now call chapbooks. Michael, Andrew Nurse, Greg Frankland, myself and others. These were simple photocopied pages sown or stapled, generally black and white. For the most part circulated between just those of us who were making them and not much farther, but it was a good way to share our work and to at least make it feel like we were being published. Michael always branded his books with Puddles of Sky Press. It was slightly funny at the time, of no consequence, but it evidenced a vision.

Some years later I was living in China and I actually did manage to get published in a couple magazines. Truth be told I hadn't tried very hard until then, plus I had never heard or seen the small or micro presses that would soon become very central to my life. One day I got an email from Greg Frankland who informed me that Michael was producing chapbooks through his puddles of sky press. I looked it up on the internet and found his website. It was amazing to find what it had grown into. It must have been around this time also that I read Derek Beaulieu's manifesto-like writings which promoted self-publishing and just such micro press endeavours. It just all seemed so easy, and as I remembered having so much fun creating those little books back in university I decided I might as well give it a try. So I created a website, thought of a name, and began connecting with people via a social media. That was that, Simulacrum Press was born. Submissions began to roll in and I was on my way.

I just wanted a press and to be in control of a press where experimental voices could find a home. That goal has not shifted from the beginning and I continue to be proud and honoured to be able to publish such amazing authors/creators in the capacity that I am able. Though my means are small, when it comes to a press of this size it is all about the inventiveness of presentation. You've given me your work, now what can I bring to the table? An object the author feels elevates their work.

Simulacrum Press has wended its way up to the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair three or four times, I believe. Of course it is great to exhibit there as it gives the public a chance to get up close and personal with the objects, the books—and yes more are sold that way, but it is about being with, being within the community of writers that make up the event. It's about going out for drinks and talking about work, the good work, or not talking about the work and just shooting the shit. It's about being around people with whom I can feel normal, kind of. I love the Ottawa small press community, I love the drive up into Ottawa—it's probably the only time in the year I have to be by myself. Also there is the Factory Reading which is held the night before. I always look forward to that—it's a great way to get into the mood of the fair and to hear some poems that you will encounter on tables. So, good books, good people and drinks… an essential event.

Kyle Flemmer
I don't usually make things for the fair itself because in the past I was producing fairly regularly. Though I imagine this year had their being the opportunity to table I would have created something specifically for the event because I have not been producing very much, not because of COVID-19, but because I've been working a job that obliterates me and focussing as much as I can on my own manuscripts. Unfortunately COVID-19 means no fair.

I am person who produces a lot both in terms of my own poetics and publishing others (though nothing compared to rob). But, lately I have been struggling in both arenas though the desire, the urge remains as strong as ever—which I suppose is the struggle. With a new child in the home and a full-time job it is difficult to focus my mind. A change is coming, I am attempting to guide my life into a place where I can resume those things, i.e. writing / publishing, that is, those things outside of the job which sustained me (NOT in fiscal terms).

The pandemic has given me an opportunity to pause and step back from social media, to some extent, and to focus on myself and my family (to some extent), but being an essential worker there has been no rest. I’ve taken it as a sign to go inside, to think out some things, to remove myself—a little.

Simulacrum press's most recent publication is correctional sonnets, an absolutely fabulous series of visual poems by Kyle Flemmer. Inspired by the work of Catherine Vidler, Kyle's sonnets use as a medium correctional fluid, tape and pen to create visual sonnets with what is usually the noise of an erasure poem. The pieces seem like erasure poems where no words are left, but are in fact brilliant works that discard the word for the texture of correction. There are still copies available to order via the Simulacrum website:

I am currently on the brink of taking the final steps towards the production of a chapbook by Hiromi Suzuki, a Japanese visual poet who is as versatile as she is fascinating. The work has been printed, the form of the chapbook has been decided and all that remains is to design the cover, print it, and assemble it all. The chapbook is composed of typewriter poems, which is a new direction for Hiromi. She has worked with collage, gifs and more traditional forms, so I am excited to publish this branch of her work. True to her style not only are these typewriter poems, but they are typewriter poems that have been photographed, which gives them an interesting angle of presentation, a certain mood which one doesn't usually find in a typewriter poem. These poems are unmistakably Hiromi’s—there is a dream-like shadow to the content, something you just can't completely capture, that eludes you.

Sacha Archer lives in Burlington, Ontario with his wife and two daughters. He is the editor of Simulacrum Press ( Archer’s latest chapbook is Inkwells: An Event Poem (nOIR:Z, 2019) and his forthcoming chapbooks are Houses (no press), Framing Poems and Mother’s Milk (both Timglaset) as well as Lines of Sight (nOIR:Z). His concrete poetry has been exhibited in the USA, Italy, and Canada. Find him on Facebook and Instagram @sachaarcher.

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