What are some upcoming trends?
Matvei Yankelevich:In the coming years, we’ll be foregrounding historical recovery projects of lost or neglected avant-garde texts from North America, Slovenia, Japan, Uruguay, Russia, Chile, and Argentina, while also continuing our commitment to contemporary American poetics, performance texts and performance documentation, and unusual genre-bending investigative prose. This spring, we’ll be retiring our 17-year-old poetry magazine, 6x6, and thereby making room in our program for more printed ephemera and unconventional book forms. We’re looking for more opportunities to make our studio available to educational programs, holding workshops and readings to bring people together for open conversation.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
DO:Historical avant-garde writing from outside of the canonical European context. New and unusual English-language poetry and hybrid writing that doesn’t fit pre-ordained norms of “good literature.” Translingual writing that moves within and across different languages and their cultural contexts. But also, books about transoms would be cool. We have an open reading period for translation projects in December—as always, there’s no fee and it’s not a contest, and the guidelines are on our website.
How are you working with self-published writers?
MY: Plenty of work that’s appeared on UDP [Ugly Duckling Presse] had first been passed around among poets in Xeroxed, hand-stapled form, often produced by the writers themselves. Early in our collective history, quite a few of our chapbooks were handmade editions of poems by our members, made with help from one another, in the spirit of the publications of early Dada, Russian futurism, and the mimeograph revolution in the USA.
What don’t you ever want to see again?
DO: We’re game to see most anything now and again. Each submission we receive is read by several of our editors and our tastes vary. What we’ve published in the past doesn’t necessarily restrict what we might consider for the future, but we do hope that writers and translators who send us work are familiar with the broad range—eclectic but coherent—of what we’ve been up to.
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
MY:Our corner’s unique because it’s a corner with no desire to be in the center. We hope to approach publishing as an artistic practice more than as a marketing problem, happy to publish books whose potential audiences are small in number but rich in dedication and passion.
Anything else you’d like to add?
DO:This year’s UDP studio motto was “Just Keep Going,” and we’ve managed that…so we’re looking for a new—perhaps more hopeful—slogan for the coming year. Our 2017 subscriptions are now for sale on our website—it’s the best way to keep up with our 20-plus books a year. We’ve got several launch events coming up this winter, so keep your ears pricked up. And we’re starting to gear up for our official 25-year anniversary in 2018—if you want to help us celebrate this milestone, please get in touch!
Matvei Yankelevich’s books include the long poem Some Worlds for Dr. Vogt (Black Square), a poetry collection, Alpha Donut (United Artists), and a novella in fragments, Boris by the Sea (Octopus). His translations include Today I Wrote Nothing: The Selected Writings of Daniil Kharms (Overlook), and (with Eugene Ostashevsky) Alexander Vvedensky’s An Invitation for Me to Think (NYRB Poets), which received a National Translation Award. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He is a founding editor of Ugly Duckling Presse, and teaches at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College.
Daniel Owen is a writer and member of the Ugly Duckling Presse editorial collective. He is the author of Toot Sweet (United Artists Books) and the chapbooks Authentic Other Landscape (Diez) and Up in the Empty Ferries (Third Floor Apartment Press). His writing has appeared in Hyperallergic, Elderly, Lana Turner, A Perimeter, the Brooklyn Rail, and elsewhere.