Posts filed under 'Publisher Profile'

Meet The Publisher: Antares Press’s Margarita Feliciano on Publishing from Spanish, French, and Indigenous Languages

I’m interested in bringing to the attention of readers in the world the fact that there are other languages—not known languages.

ANTARES Publishing House of Spanish Culture is a trilingual press located at York University’s Glendon Campus in Toronto, Canada. ANTARES aims to bring literary and scholarly works from the Spanish-speaking world to North American readers. With this in mind, the press publishes non-fiction, fiction, poetry, and theater either written in or translated from Spanish, English, and French. In recent years, ANTARES’s interests have expanded to include the literature of indigenous languages such as Quechua and Ojibwe. Asymptote’s Editor-at-Large for Argentina, Sarah Moses, met with director Margarita Feliciano to chat about ANTARES’s catalog and their commitment to publishing translations of works written in Spanish and indigenous languages.

Sarah Moses: How did ANTARES get started?

Margarita Feliciano: The press started in the year 2005, but officially we started to publish in the year 2006. I’ve been a professor at York University since 1969 and I’ve always taught literature. In 1989, I started to publish a magazine called Indigo—before Indigo the store; I didn’t have a chance to register it. The subtitle of the magazine was The Spanish/Canadian Presence in the Arts. Things were not done in translation but published in their original language—it could be Spanish, English, or French.

I was forced to retire in 2005 because at the time we had lost a strike and one of the requirements was mandatory retirement for people aged sixty-five. The law is now gone but I unfortunately fell in that category. So in view of that, I decided to create ANTARES—to continue to do what I was doing and at the same time keep me at university because in my life all I’ve done is either be a student or a teacher. So I wanted to continue my work.


Publisher Profile: New Directions

"This is going to sound really Pollyanna, but things have gotten better recently."

Frances Riddle: Can you tell us a little bit about how New Directions got started?

Barbara Epler: We were started by James Laughlin in 1936 and he had gone to study with Ezra Pound; he was bored at Harvard and went to study with Gertrude Stein first and then with Ezra. And J.L. always wanted to be a writer. And Pound, seeing a rich kid, probably had an idea, and he said “No, you’ll never be a very good poet, why don’t you do something useful and go home, finish Harvard so that your parents will give you money, and start a publishing company.” Or assassinate the reviewer he hated at the Saturday Review of Literature. But do something useful. So J.L. came back and when he was still in college started New Directions. J.L. passed away in 1997 but he created a trust so that we could not be bought or sold but we have to stay the same size. He didn’t believe in the capital growth thing which I think is correct—that’ll kill a literary company. And we have to publish books of the same quality. READ MORE…

Publisher Profile: In Conversation with Kaya Press

"We push boundaries by putting these books out there."

Kaya Press was founded in 1994, and has established itself as a premier publisher of Asian and Pacific Islander diasporic writers in the United States. Its diverse list of titles includes experimental poetry, noir fiction, film memoir, avant-garde art, performance pieces, “lost” novels, and everything in between. Kaya and its authors have been the recipients of numerous awards, including the Gregory Kolovakas Prize for Outstanding New Literary Press, the American Book Award, the Association for Asian American Studies Book Award, the PEN Beyond Margins Open Book Prize, the Asian American Writers’ Workshop Award, and their books have become cornerstone texts in American Studies and Asian American Studies curricula at universities throughout the country. I spoke with Publisher Sunyoung Lee via email.


Alexis Almeida: Can you tell me about Kaya’s origins? I’ve read that it was originally intended to house a journal of Korean literature-in-translation, and that the press has been through many transformations.

Sunyoung Lee: Kaya was founded by Kim Soo Kyung, a writer and a publisher based in Korea, who originally was interested in publishing Korean lit in translation. She met up with writer Walter K. Lew, who convinced her to publish a broader list of Asian diasporic lit—and to move beyond putting out a journal format to putting out actual books. The transformations that Kaya has gone through have been largely due to staffing and funding. The start up funding from Kim Soo Kyung ended in 1997, whereupon all funding for salaries abruptly ended, though I continued to work at Kaya with Juliana Koo, Kaya’s original managing editor. Probably the most difficult time for Kaya was the period where I became the sole volunteer staff person at Kaya after Julie went to graduate school. Luckily, we had enough forward momentum to stay afloat because of the great organizational groundwork that Julie had put into place, but it was a huge challenge to keep up—to continue publishing books, keeping our books in print, etc. We managed to keep our heads above water, but there were a couple of moments when it was a bit touch and go. More recently, however, working with Neelanjana Banerjee, our managing editor, and our new publicist, Cathy Che—not to mention our graduate student assistant, Heidi Hong, and the numerous, talented undergraduate interns whom we work with here  (happy to give a list of all of their names! Anita Chen, Maggie Deagon, Jamaal Armstrong, among others)—has made all of the difference in getting Kaya Press really humming again. Not only are we putting on more events and publishing more titles than ever before, we’re also working on a couple of new series of titles (and planning a few more), including one on Japanese lit in translation, and another on Korean literature in translation, both of which will be launched in 2017. So there’s a way in which we’ve finally circled back around to our original founding impulse!

AA: What has your move from New York to LA been like? Can you tell me about your affiliation with the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at USC, and your relationship with the greater LA community?

SL: From New York—at least back in the 90s, at least for myself—Los Angeles was not just beyond the pool of light being generated by the city itself, it was past the curve of the earth—past the horizon. So it was never a place I ever really ever thought about, much less imagined Kaya moving to.

Because we started in the 1990s, we had a very strong sense of creating culture as we went—desktop publishing had just started to make possible the world of indie publishing that we now see flourishing around us, and there was a lot of excitement and new ideas and people trying to figure out how to making this indie publishing thing work.

The feeling was a lot like the feeling of riding my bike (my primary mode of transportation in those days) through midtown Manhattan—you’re out in the world, completely self-powered, moving between lanes of packed traffic in the shadow of these enormously tall buildings. It’s a weirdly wonderful feeling—you feel acutely your smallness and insignificance, yet all of that looming institutional weight can’t prevent you from making your way to wherever you need to be. That’s what it felt like to be doing indie publishing at that time. It was hard not to feel like a pioneer.

Ditto with regards to working the Asian diasporic focus—unlike out on the West Coast, where there was a more of a cohesive sense of history and critical mass and activism around Asian American-ness, in New York, being Asian American and really trying to make an impact as an Asian diasporic press required a different kind of wiliness—a different set of survival skills, if you will. There was definitely an active, thriving community of Asian American artists, but it wasn’t as entrenched and institutional as it was out west, from what I could tell at least. Which meant that you spent more time trying to break new ground—to get to the table—than you did navigating pre-existing social and cultural hierarchies—or figuring out how to position yourself at the table.


Publisher Profile: Ana Pérez Galván of Hispabooks

"The more of us there are, the more readers we’ll engage in reading literature in translation, which is nothing more than just reading good books!"

Frances Riddle: How was Hispabooks born?

Ana Pérez Galván: The two co-founders, my partner Gregorio Doval and myself, had worked many years in publishing in Spain, as editors for other presses (and in Gregorio’s case, as a writer himself too) and we had an urge to create a project of our own. The local market had been plunging for several years (and still hasn’t improved much) so it didn’t seem to make sense to set up just another run-of-the-mill independent press. Instead, after a little research we were amazed to see how very few Spanish literary writers got translated to English. Whilst it was easy to spot translations into French, German, Italian, Serbian . . . of the most relevant Spanish authors, translations into English were conspicuous by their absence. It seemed to make sense to focus our efforts, experience, and expertise in Spanish literary fiction in a project aimed at countering this situation, and that’s how we came up with the idea of Hispabooks.


Publisher Profile: Counterpath Press

"We have absolutely no commitment to translation for the sake of translation."

Counterpath is a publisher, gallery, event space, and bookstore. Counterpath was founded in 2006 and has published nearly 50 titles to date. Its gallery and event space opened in late 2010 in Denver, Colorado, hosting over 160 exhibitions, performances, and events. Counterpath’s new venue, at 7935 East 14th Avenue in Denver, is currently under renovation but will be open to the public in 2015. I recently spoke to Tim Roberts via email. 

Alexis Almeida: How did Counterpath get started? What was your initial vision for the press?

Tim Roberts: That’s an interesting assumption, that we had a vision, or that a press needs a vision. The implications are many: that we, for some reason, saw something we wanted to accomplish, that we believed needed to be done, something to create that didn’t yet exist, or that was outside what already existed. In some way we believed we could operate, by our own decision, in a way separate from what we might already do automatically— separate from a need to make a living, to not get pummeled by the weather, to bring food to one’s mouth. This was just about a decade back, and I’m not sure I’m prepared at the moment to sketch out lines of developmental continuity that might not make any sense next week or next month. I think you could say we did something in the media, at a time when media was shifting. I think you could say we took something with vaguely personal motives and said this is public, impersonal, objectively valuable, in some way, at some demarcation point, by fiat. We set ourselves up to be believed. Like anyone else, we had an idea of how media works, and how it would work for us. We had an idea of what reading was.


Publisher Profile: Antena

"Language justice is difficult to see. The plight of the invisibility of translation is storied."


Antena is a language justice and literary experimentation collaborative founded by Jen Hofer and John Pluecker, both writers, artists, literary translators, bookmakers and activist interpreters. Antena activates links between social justice work and artistic practice by exploring how critical views on language can help us to reimagine and rearticulate the worlds we inhabit. Antena has exhibited, published, performed, organized, advocated, translated, curated, interpreted, and/or instigated with numerous groups and institutions, including Blaffer Art Museum, Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics, and Project Row Houses. I recently spoke with Jen Hofer and John Pluecker over email. 


Alexis Almeida: I’d like to start with Antena’s beginnings. It seems collaboration is a key element of everything you do. Can you talk a bit about how your different backgrounds/interests were able to coalesce in this project?

John Pluecker: As I’ve described previously in an interview Nancy Wozny did with Antena in 2014 for Arts + Culture TX, “Jen and I initially met in Tijuana, Mexico in 2006 at the Writing Lab on the Border, a six-week series of workshops organized by Mexican writer Cristina Rivera Garza. Jen’s ideas and thinking about translation, interpretation and writing blew me away from the very start. After our first meeting in Tijuana, we kept running into each other: as interpreters at the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the US Social Forum, as literary translators at various gatherings and as poets in readings and events. Over the years, our friendship grew to the point that we decided to join forces.” READ MORE…

Publisher Profile: Ugly Duckling Presse

"I think there’s an interest among the editors in finding new translators, allowing the work of new translators to shine."

Ugly Duckling Presse is a nonprofit publisher for poetry, translation, experimental nonfiction, performance texts, and books by artists. Matvei Yankelevich is the co-founder and co-executive director of the press, and Rebekah Smith is an associate editor who spent the summer in Buenos Aires. We chatted over Skype about the press’s origins, as well as two of its translation series: EEPS (the Eastern European Poets Series) and Señal, which Rebekah and Matvei both curate. 


Alexis Almeida: I want to first ask about Ugly Duckling’s origins. I read recently that you started as a zine and over time evolved into a small press. Can you highlight a few major transformations that the press went through during in this time? What were you goals for the press initially, and how have they changed over the years, especially as you expand to include more collective members and publish new kinds of books?

Matvei Yankelevich: Well, it’s important to say first that the press has very little to do with what the zine was, although the name stuck. When I moved to New York, I kept using the name for new collaborative projects with people I met. When we decided to actually do something more substantial, in the late 90s, we were just a group of writers, artists, and theater people. It wasn’t necessarily going to be a publishing house, but we decided to keep the name, Ugly Duckling Presse. What united us, or gave us the idea of working together, was that we were making books with each other, or for each other, so books were a common language. And the original idea was that we would publish things, maybe have a space, have performances and shows, but that was very difficult in late 90s New York. READ MORE…

Publisher Profile: Ariadne Press

Karl Johns and Jorun Johns of Ariadne Press on Austrian literature in translation

Ariadne Press has been publishing translated Austrian literature since 1988 from Riverside, California. Their 260 titles range from exciting new fiction to autobiographies, pioneering critical work, and plays, on diverse subjects from Nazism to science fiction to music and humor. I spoke with editor Karl Johns and founding editor Jorun Johns on the phone about Ariadne, Austria’s modern literary masters, and the intersection of Vienna and California.


Eva Richter: How did Ariadne Press start?

Karl Johns: That’s interesting, how everything starts. The International Arthur Schnitzler Research Association was founded in 1962 to celebrate the 100th birthday of Arthur Schnitzler. When all the German-language refugees came to the United States, California was actually the second most popular goal after New York, in spite of the fact that the Midwest and Chicago already had German speakers and German newspapers and all that. So there were a lot of people in California and Los Angeles. Many of these people survived as psychoanalysts. They were the ones who were most prosperous, maybe. Some of them were the admirers of Arthur Schnitzler, and that’s how that was started, and that led to the journal, which became more and more general, not just Arthur Schnitzler but all of Austrian literature, and it was called Modern Austrian Literature. My mother, Jorun Johns, was one of the editors of that. It sort of grew, and it became the standard place for people to publish articles about modern Austrian authors.

The logical thing was that these people needed to publish books for their academic credentials. And it’s always difficult to find a publisher! So my mother founded Ariadne together with two colleagues, Donald Daviau at UC Riverside and Richard Lawson at San Diego State University. The first book they published was the memoir of Leon Askin, who had begun as an actor in Vienna and emigrated. Since then, Ariadne has put out 260 titles, and we have a number in the pipeline, including Shaking the Empire: Shaking Patriarchy, an anthology of feminist writings from Eastern European languages. All our books are translated into English, with one exception, and the idea is to make Austrian literature, authors, and studies of them available to the English-speaking audience. The Library of Congress does not distinguish Austria from Germany, but it really is a separate tradition.


Publisher Profile: Restless Books

"Restless was conceived in a moment when decisive transformations were taking place."

Restless Books is a digital-first publishing initiative spearheaded by Ilan Stavans, the Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. Stavans is also a writer and cofounder of the Great Books Summer Program at Amherst, Stanford, and Oxford. We spoke via Skype about his books, which “reflect the restlessness of our multiform lives.”

Frances Riddle: How was Restless Books born?

Ilan Stavans: Restless was conceived in a moment when decisive transformations were taking place. Booksellers were shrinking in size; big publishers were limiting the number of books coming from different countries, from different languages. Restless came out of a response to the limited exposure an American reader has to international fiction. We aim to translate great work from a variety of languages. That was and is our mission—to compensate for the commercial way of thinking the big publishers have in New York City. We are a mid-sized publisher, but our goal is to help internationalize the landscape of American literature as much as possible. The Press aims to publish fiction, non-fiction, and poetry dealing with restlessness as a condition.

FR: Was this focus on movement—restlessness—inspired by your own immigrant experience? READ MORE…

Publisher Profile: Berlinica

On the trail of a one-woman publishing house

Berlin native Eva Schweitzer learned a lot about the publishing industry from her years of work as a writer and New York correspondent for German newspapers. In 2011, she decided to open her own publishing house, focusing on books related to the city of Berlin. Eva runs Berlinica between New York City and Berlin. I spoke to her via Skype after one of her frequent trans-Atlantic flights.

Frances Riddle: How was Berlinica born?

Eva Schweitzer: I’m an author and nowadays it’s becoming easier to break into the market, even if you’re small. You don’t need so much overhead anymore. You can do print-on-demand and e-books, you can distribute them internationally with Amazon; and I thought why not try and publish books myself? I know how to write a book. How hard can it be to publish a book?

FR: So was it as easy as you thought it would be to open your own publishing house?

ES: No, it turns out it’s a great deal more time-consuming and complicated than you can imagine. READ MORE…

Publisher Profile: Ox and Pigeon

"I can’t imagine [digital publishing] is going to be anything but good for translated literature."

Ox and Pigeon Electronic Books embraces the digital age with a dynamic publishing model that enables them to deliver the literature they love to readers anywhere in the world. Since 2012, they have specialized in translations through their literary journal, The Portable Museum. Earlier this year, Ox and Pigeon began releasing their first novels in English translation. I spoke with co-founder Lucas Lyndes from his home in Lima, Peru, via Skype.

Frances Riddle: How was Ox and Pigeon born?

Lucas Lyndes: I moved to Peru in 2005 to learn Spanish with the idea of becoming a translator. I got married here in 2010 and my friends from Boston, Jason Curran and Katie Sedat, came down for the wedding. We got to talking about books because we’re all big readers. I was dabbling in translation and I was surprised at what was being translated; there were a lot of writers who weren’t getting any attention. So we decided to try and do something about it. The idea was born in 2010 and the first issue of The Portable Museum came out in 2012.  READ MORE…

Publisher Profile: New Vessel Press

"It’s scary, but if you want to expand the range of what you can do, you have to take these risks."

Founded in New York City in 2012, New Vessel Press is dedicated to publishing books “that offer erudition and pleasure, provoke and scintillate, transform and transport.” They specialize in translation of foreign literature in paperback and e-book format. Graphic designer Liana Finck’s beautiful cover art makes the New Vessel Press website a feast for the eyes. I spoke with New Vessel Press co-founders Michael Wise and Ross Ufberg via Skype.

Frances Riddle: How was New Vessel Press born?

Michael Wise: Ross and I met at a spelling bee. My son was in the Manhattan Spelling Bee and Ross was the announcer. He was introduced as a literary translator from Polish and Russian to English and I thought that was pretty fascinating. We met and it turned out we lived close by and we became friends and talked a lot about literature. The press was born out of that love for books.


Publisher Profile: Tulika Books

An inside look at translating and publishing children's literature… in nine languages!

Interview with Radhika Menon, founder & managing editor of Tulika Books, India.

Sohini Basak: How did Tulika start out?

Radhika Menon: When we set up Tulika Publishers in 1996, we wanted to create Indian books that were as good as the best books anywhere. No, not “just as good as.” We want to give the children supremely good books and we wanted these books to be right in the Indian context. Our own generation had been fed books from the West, and had been taught to keep away from the more didactic, mass-produced Indian books. Good books, we assumed, came from elsewhere, usually from England!

We needed to reflect a contemporary Indian sensibility. But the contemporary Indian reality was vast, varied, and multilingual. It was clear to us that we would have to publish in as many of the Indian languages as possible.

Today we publish picture books in nine languages simultaneously—English, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati and Bengali. We also do bilingual books—English paired with each of the other eight languages. Some of the books for older children are in English alone and they too reflect a contemporary “Indianness” in their perspective, and in their very feel and look. READ MORE…

Publisher Profile: Bloomsbury Publishing

"I don't publish literature from other languages as a translation. I publish it as literature."

Founded in 1986, Bloomsbury Publishing is an independent publishing house dedicated to promoting quality literature. During the editor’s week of the Buenos Aires Book Fair I met with Bill Swainson, Senior Commissioning Editor of the Adult Editorial Division at Bloomsbury Publishing in London. 

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