So begins the Globe and Mail article detailing Harper's latest blow to Canadian publishing. I find the systematic attack on the production of print culture in Canada vexing to say the least.
Part of my vexation is certainly connected to the fact that I work in a literature department. My work focuses on Canadian women's cultural production, predominantly poetry that crosses and complicates genre boundaries. In short, I need publishers who are willing and able to publish the work of women I study.
And of course there's love. I love books. I love them in print form, I love them in digital form. I love them in forms I didn't even know could exist (thanks, Bruce Peel Special Collections!) As an only child I spent such a huge amount of time reading that my mom had to sign me up for sports* so that I would put down my books from time to time. OK, maybe she was also trying to encourage me to socialize... But the point is simple. My relationship with books is the longest of my life. I doubt we'll break up any time soon.
My love of small and independent publishers developed later. Simply put I didn't really know they existed until well into my undergraduate degree. I've found myself talking about the import of Canadian publishing in almost all of my courses in the past few years. This comes up naturally, from the surveys of Canadian literature to the introduction to literature courses: students want to know about their reading material. Where does it come from? How does publishing work? What does the publishing industry tell us about our so-called national values?
There are dedicated bloggers out there who have been calling attention to Canadian publishing for a good long while now. Lemon Hound, (begun as/by poet critic and public intellectual Sina Queyras in 2005 as a venture for discussing literature, art, politics, and women and now run by a collective of bright young things) recently posted about related and equally as worrying point: According to Amy King and the fine folks at Vida, women are publishing into a critical vacuum. Still.
So rather than blaming ebooks or speculate on when my country people are going to wake up and demand an election I'm making a list. A list of amazing small presses and less small presses in Canada. Please add ones I've missed. The idea here is first to gather a critical mass--there are bound to be presses we've yet heard about--and then, if possible, to make concerted efforts to support these presses in any way we can. Here goes (in no particular order):
Gaspereau Press No apologies for beautiful books!
Arsenal Pulp Press Started as a student run collective in the 70s
Talonbooks Published, among many many others, what I would consider one of the most important books in the last five years: Sachiko Murakami's Invisibility Exhibit
BookThug Amazing, beautiful, innovative work gets packaged beautifully and published here.
NeWest Publishing 'radically rewarding literature' since the 1970s
Invisible Publishing An innovative small press here in Hali!
New Star In addition to literature and social issues New Star runs Transmontanus, a series of short illustrated books about some of the more unusual aspects of life in a corner of the world currently known as British Columbia.
Cormorant Dedicated to new and emerging writers
Snare Books Started in 2006 by Montreal based John Paul Fiorentino and Robert Allen. Stellar emergent poet Helen Hajnoczky's first collection Poets and Killers: A Life in Advertising was published by these fine folks.
Anvil Press Contemporary Canadian literature with an urban twist
Coach House Books The one & only
House of Anansi Publishing since 1967
Brick Books New and established voices in Canadian poetry since 1975
Pedlar Press Making no compromise with public taste!
Kegedonce We are a First Nations - owned and operated publisher committed to the development, promotion and publication of Indigenous Peoples. Our books are beautifully crafted and involve Indigenous Peoples at all levels of production. High quality design, materials and production are the cornerstone of our aesthetic approach to publishing.
Mercury Press Poetry, fiction, and culturally significant non-fiction
*Factoid: I spent several years of my youth as a competitive synchronized swimmer...!