Chris Tonelli gave an excellent talk on limited-run small press publication. Rather than attempting to expiate small presses in light of an overwhelmed marketplace for poetry, Chris instead focused on the community-building aspects of small press and book-arts projects. For example, his So And So Reading Series in Boston works in collaboration with Rope-a-Dope Collaborative to produce letterpress broadsides of featured poets’ poems, which they sell on the night of their reading.
Drawing on Lewis Hyde’s idea that art exists in both a gift economy and market economy, he pointed out how limited-run collaborative publications foster community by delivering a select number of high-quality works to artist, collectors, and aficionados who truly appreciate the work. This has been my own experience firsthand in rather serendipitously entering in to my first book arts collaboration — that the collaboration itself was a gift between artists that then extended out to appreciative communities. Thanks to Chris for flying out to the Pacific University campus to deliver his unique perspective on community publishing.