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Small Presses, Big Voices
by Jon Wheelock
Buffalo Small Press Book Fair
Saturday, March 19, noon-6pm. Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum, Porter Hall (453 Porter Avenue)
The spacious Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum will house the fifth annual Buffalo Small Press Book Fair, a one-day literary bazaar celebrating the independent, the innovative, and the often marginalized authors and artists from Buffalo and beyond.
The term “small press,” on a basic level, refers to publishing houses that publish a certain number of books a year, or that publish less than a certain number of copies of a book. Small presses and micro-presses help expose new authors, and tend to focus on niche genres that might never see the light of day at a large publisher. Small presses, of course, are anything but small when it comes to the influence they have on a community and culture. Working in the same independent spirit as the small press is a world of book-related arts operations ranging from bookbinding and zine-making to letter press and book art. The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair brings all of these like-minded people together in one place to share ideas, promote their trade, and sell their wares.
Organizer Chris Fritton had participated in book fairs in Toronto and New York City. He saw the energy and creativity being put forth and thought: Why not here? Buffalo has always had a strong literary community with a long history of small press activity going back to the Black Mountain College expatriates and SUNY Buffalo educators Charles Olson and Robert Creeley. “The artists and authors that came here developed progressive curricula and made Buffalo a focal point for small press poetry, cutting-edge poetics, and the prototypical DIY ethos,” says Fritton. “In many ways, that’s the most DIY aspect of the fair: No crowd/demographic for your work? No place to sell your work? Make the crowd, make the venue, make the demographic.”
The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair was born out of that grassroots mindset, and has quickly blossomed into the type of annual gathering that an arts-conscious city like Buffalo can embrace. The book fair has grown exponentially in attendance and participation in the four years since it began, from 65 vendors and just fewer than 1,000 attendees in the first year to more than 100 vendors and an expected crowd of 2,000 this year. “After the first book fair was successful, we decided to make it a yearly event,” Fritton says. “Something everyone could look forward to, a harbinger of spring, when we all come out of our writing and art-making caves and see the sun again.”
Now in its fifth year, the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair brings together booksellers, authors, bookmakers, zinesters, small presses, artists, poets, DIY crafters, and everyone in between. What you’ll find is a lively bazaar of vendors with a variety of materials ready for tender: small press poetry and fiction, comics, print-on-demand novels and nonfiction, local interest, letter press and book art, antique collector’s editions, zines, gig posters, binding equipment, bookmarks, and bookplates. Small press poetry and fiction in Buffalo and beyond is well represented, with Buffalo-based Earth’s Daughters, Starcherone Books, and BlazeVOX [books] all setting up shop.
Complementing the bazaar aspect of the book fair are free workshops and presentations held in the upstairs of Karpeles. Space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Each workshop will consist of a brief overview of the topic, some elementary equipment and skill overviews, and, if applicable, a demonstration or activity.
“The book fair acts as a catalyst for writers and artists,” Fritton says. “It gives them something to count on, a goal, a deadline, a secondary reason to write or make art. It incites collaborations, it elicits inspiration, and it gives each and every person who participates an incentive to maintain that community.”
Low-Budget Comics: Creation, Publication, and Promotion
Kyle Kaczmarczyk is a Buffalo native, graphic illustrator, and founder of Zombie Worx Productions, his own comic book and freelance design company. Kaczmarczyk hosts a lecture and Q&A in the upper recesses of Karpeles during the book fair at 1pm, covering the intricacies of making and distributing your own comics.
The internet has made it easier to self-publish, and in an industry that’s long been dominated by the Big Two (Marvel and DC) and their incessantly recycled superhero friends, that can be pretty valuable.
“Generally, creator-owned books can push boundaries and go places that comics from Marvel and DC just won’t. Comics are art and art comes in lots of different flavors,” Kaczmarczyk says. “We—I include myself in this because I, of course, buy comics too—have to buy creator-owned books and spread the word about them to our friends so that they buy them too. We need to show comic book shops that creator-owned comics sell, so that they’ll stock them. Otherwise publishers like Alterna, Red 5, and Image are going to go out of business, leaving us in a world where there are only comics about capes and cowls.”
CrowBiz: Prints and art with a vintage vibe
CrowBiz is a Buffalo-based solo operation specializing in vintage-style art prints and home décor made from recycled and repurposed materials. “My materials, particularly books and paper goods, have accumulated over the years from thrift stores, yard sales and the good old curb,” says CrowBiz founder Carol Wannemacher. “It pushes you to think about what you can do with what you have available, how to get the most life, or another life, out of something. I find it interesting to see things in a new context.”
Visit CrowBiz at the book fair and you’ll find a variety of prints made from the recycled pages of old books and dictionaries, as well as jewelry, home décor items, and glass magnets.
Stock up on custom letterpress cards for every occasion from greengirlpress, an eco-conscious printing company started by Rochester native and paper-enthusiast Amy Rau. From Halloween to Hanukkah, Christmas to Columbus Day, no holiday is left behind, not to mention artfully designed wedding invitations and announcements. Keeping with the “green” theme, all designs are printed on recycled, salvaged, or sustainable materials.
Squeaky Wheel: Zoetropes—AN Analog Animation Workshop
Have an old record player? Learn how to turn it into your very own analog animation machine as Squeaky Wheel presents their homemade zoetrope, an antique animation device and one of the earliest versions of the motion picture. The zoetrope presents the illusion of animation through a rapid-spinning cylinder with a sequence of pictures or photographs on the inside. Participants will have the opportunity to create their own animated strips and watch it come to life.
The presentation will be held at 2:30pm in the upstairs of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum.
Friday, March 18: All Poetry is Small Press Poetry Reading
Get an early start on the festivities with the All Poetry is Small Press Poetry Reading on Friday night at 8pm, at the Western New York Book Arts Center (468 Washington Street). The kickoff party will feature readers from nationally recognized small presses, including Matvei Yankelevich of Ugly Duckling Presse, Rebecca Wolff of Fence Books, and Adam Robinson from Publishing Genius. Organized by Mike Kelleher of Just Buffalo Literary Center and Aaron Lowinger, the event is free and open to the public, with food, refreshments, and lots of meet and greet.
Sunday, March 20: Making Faces at the Burchfield Penney Arts Center
Working in conjunction with the book fair is a Sunday afternoon screening of Richard Kegler’s design documentary, Making Faces, showcasing the creative genius and personality of the late Canadian graphic artist Jim Rimmer. Richard Kegler hosts a Q&A following the screening, which begins at 1pm.
Tickets are $8 general admission, $4 for WNYBAC and Burchfield Penney members.
See the full schedule and list of vendors at www.buffalosmallpress.orgblog comments powered by Disqus
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