Thursday, August 13, 2020

the ottawa small press book fair : home edition #14 : Coven Editions,

Emilia Morgan is a Palestinian-Canadian writer currently completing an M.A. in English at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her long poem Suburbia was published as a tiny book by In\Words press, and you can find some other work in Bywords, talking about strawberries, Chaudiere, and Train. She is a member of the Arc Poetry Magazine board and otherwise spends as much time as possible with plants and animals.

Stephanie Meloche is a primary school teacher in the UK and co-host of the history / crime / folklore podcast Femmes Macabres.  As a Pisces, she is always feeling a lot of feelings and is usually day-dreaming about faraway places.  Steph has a passion for unsolved mysteries and communing with spirits.  She has also published two novellas, both of which were written in under 48 hours.

Coven Editions is a literary small press founded in 2017. Currently based in Mia's apartment in Waterloo, ON, Coven specializes in creative, handmade chapbooks. We seek to showcase and circulate work by Canadian artists with diverse and intersecting identities, with a focus on emerging writers from Ontario's literary community.

Q: Tell me about your press. How long have you been publishing, and what got you started?

Today, Coven Editions is a small press run by longtime friends Steph and Mia that seeks to showcase and circulate work by Canadian artists with diverse and intersectional identities, focusing on emerging writers from Ontario’s literary community.  The idea for Coven Editions, however, came into existence in late 2016. We had always talked in passing of starting our own small press and one day we decided to just do it. While we immediately started drawing up ideas for a logo (that’s where all our great ideas have started) and built a website, Coven only really took its first real steps into publishing when we decided to soft-launch with a table at the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair in Fall 2017 (thanks rob!). We reached out to a few local poets and they kindly let us publish their work. We wouldn’t be here today if Conyer Clayton, Dorian Bell, and Ian Martin hadn’t believed in us and our small press!

Q: How many times have you exhibited at the ottawa small press fair? How do you find the experience?

We love exhibiting at the small press fair! Having tabled with the Ottawa Arts Review staff for many years prior, Mia is a regular. We’ve had a table at each one since we first started in 2017. While it’s a great way for us to showcase and sell our newest and latest work, it’s also an opportunity for us to reconnect with our friends who run other presses and meet new publishers from around the Ottawa area.  The atmosphere is always so jovial and welcoming, it’s hard to not have a good time (and also hard not to spend all your earnings on books).

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 affect how or what you might be producing?

Before Covid hit, we were on track to have two new chapbooks ready to launch for the Spring Fair, however, 2020 clearly had other plans. Steph’s been teaching full-time and in-person in the midst of the pandemic in England, while Mia and Coven have relocated to Waterloo, ON, so we’ve been taking our time to really make our upcoming summer 2020 publications the best they can be. We usually love making fair-specific merchandise, likely would have again, and hopefully will in the future! In the meantime this is giving us a lot of time to consider our press’s online presence.

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?

We’ve thought about this a lot. In the past, each of our new print runs has been accompanied by a party at a local bar (shoutout to Avant-Garde & Pour Boy!), featuring readings by some of our writers. Now, we’re looking at creative ways of virtually launching our two new chapbooks later this summer.  We’re currently considering hosting a Zoom launch, or going live on Facebook or Instagram as potential ways of celebrating the upcoming releases of Skye Corey’s chapbook INUUJUNGA, and Dessa Bayrock and Katie Stobbart’s The Trick to Feeling Safe at Home. As usual, all of our titles are available through our online shop, which is still the most sure way to get your hands on a book.

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?

With the hectic pace of both of our lives right now, we’ve definitely been taking this time to work on some of the behind-the-scenes aspects of running Coven. Mia has attended a handful of virtual poetry events, but our literary participation right now is largely editorial. That said, we are working on a brand new project that will hopefully allow us to be more active in the online literary world.

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?

We’d say we’ve been affected by personal circumstances more than by the pandemic this year, which has only caused us to delay production by a couple months. Unfortunately one of our go-to paper suppliers is in the United States, so we have had to seek alternatives closer to home. However, we’re lucky in the sense that we produce our books entirely in-house, and we invested in our own heavy-duty printer last year, so we can go to print as soon as we’re ready! It’s all just been a matter of getting settled into our new Waterloo HQ so that we can get started on producing our two new chapbooks.

Q: What are your most recent publications? How might folk be able to order copies?

Our 2019 publications were The Sorceress Who Left Too Soon by Erin Emily Ann Vance; and Grimoire, a collection of 11 poems by Allison Armstrong, Manahil Bandukwala, Ellen Chang-Richardson, Emily Coppella, Nina Drystek, Ariel Dawn, Samantha Godwin, Nisa Malli, Helen Robertson, Erin Emily Ann Vance, and Vivian Wagner. Both books, along with all of our previously published broadsides and chapbooks, can be found on our beautifully revamped website:

Q: What are you working on now?

Right now, we are in the middle of production on INUUJUNGA and The Trick to Feeling Safe at Home, and will likely be spending the next few weeks creasing paper and binding books. In addition to our upcoming summer launch, we’ve started the preliminary planning for our extremely exciting fall 2020 publications: Qurat Dar’s Oracle of Wounds and Ellen Chang-Richardson’s Assimilation Tactics.

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