“It should not be easy to publish.”

Nathaniel G. Moore has a warm and well-considered piece presently up on Open Book Toronto about tomorrow’s Brick Books 35th Anniversary Party and Readings, happening across the street from Vox Pop headquarters at Mitzi’s Sister.

Brick is one of my favourite poetry presses. I find the committee-based editorial process to be hard to wrap my head around (poetry editorship striking me as something intractably individualist in nature), but I don’t think you can argue with the results. Has any other press found, or advanced, as many keynote voices in Canadian poetry over the last 35 years? I don’t think…

The title of this post is a quote from Nathaniel’s interview with Brick-cofounder (and the editor of next collection) Stan Dragland. I like it. However, I wonder if Brick, with its 7-books-a-year schedule, is stewarding that maxim to the best of its ability. Lots of presses Brick’s size do 2, or 4, books per annum. And even the half-dozen thoughtful people on Brick’s editorial board don’t find a winner every time.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Book Industry, Canadian Literature, Events, Poems in the Wider World, Toronto Poetry Cult

7 Comments on ““It should not be easy to publish.””


  1. Here’s a shocker: I think Brick publishes too many books and that the books they publish tend to be too long (viz. under-edited). From conversations I’ve been having with various folk, I’d say this is a fairly common perception of what could be better at that press. Also, when I learn of some of the books they’ve passed on and look at some of the books they’ve published, I’m utterly perplexed. This isn’t to say they do a uniformly bad job, because they don’t. Some of my favourite titles in recent years have been published by Brick. But I agree with what you seem to be suggesting: they could do better things with their list, either by cutting it or by turning away more B-grade mss. than they do.

  2. voxpopulism Says:

    Yeah, that’s about where I’m at. Except, I’d like to downgrade my sentiment as much as possible; it’s not really a complaint. The point of publishing poetry is to publish good poetry, and if Brick goes 2 for 7, that’s better by me than someone going 1 for 2 when they had the resources to do more, and held back for fear of failure.

    And yes, failure and good are both personal, undefinable terms. But they’re mine, so I’ll use them.

    35 years is a ridiculous accomplishment. I’m sure no one involved thought it would last this long, or be this iconic so many years later.

  3. Sina Says:

    Not a shocker. That sums up pretty much every poetry publisher in Canada.

    On the other hand, you can find some of the best poetry in Canada in the Brick catalogue.

    And very much looking forward to a few of the new titles I have heard they acquired recently.

  4. voxpopulism Says:

    The new Steve McOrmond is quite good. And the Antony di Nardo book they did in the spring might be my favourite canadian title of the year. Haven’t gotten around to all the rest.

  5. Heather Cadsby Says:

    Brick Books sampler just set up

    http://audioboo.fm/BrickBooks

  6. voxpopulism Says:

    Nice, Heather. Thanks!

    Missed you a the Brick thing tonight…I mean, I COULD just go back and say hi as it’s right across the street. But I’m already in under the covers…

  7. Heather Cadsby Says:

    Sleep well you smart and funny man.


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