Wiliamsburg’s Birdsong Micropress, still producers of The L’s choice for Best Tiny Little Zine from an Arts Collective, is holding its first ever benefit concert next Saturday the 23rd, at Silent Barn. The show—featuring B0DY H1GH, Paps, Algae & Tentacles, Baby Alpaca and Making Friendz—will underwrite the Collective’s ever-expanding roster of activities, which founder Tommy Pico kindly ran down for us over email recently.
So in addition to the by-now fairly well-established hand-made printer-paper ‘zine, you’ve started putting out a bimonthly, free but professionally printed newsprint broadsheet BRD SNG. What are your hopes for this, god forgive me, “expansion” of the birdsong “brand”?
I started making much fancier ‘zines and actually charge money for them now! But I still want to have something free and easily digestible to Hansel-and-Gretel around the city. Also when I’m waiting somewhere, I will literally read anything that’s in front of me—so I leave BRD SNG in laundromats and take-out places, cafes, Becon’s Closet… basically any place people are waiting.
You’ve also just announced a new podcast series that’ll feature an artist interview, literary reading, and music performance each month. How’s that coming along? Who’re you finding to feature so far?
I don’t have any professional experience sound engineering or anything, but the podcast is something that I want to do and something that I really believe in. I started with a few observations: 1) This city is a wellspring of creative talent; 2) There’s SO MUCH of everything; 3) People tend to aggregate just around their own artistic discipline; and 4) Most of the time (probably because of #2), people have trouble making up their own minds about whether or not the art/writing/music they come across is any “good.” Most of the time our opinions are formed by people of a certain standard saying, “pay attention to this” or “spend more time with this than you would with that.”
It’s hard and frustrating to break in if you don’t have a solo show, or a book coming out or a record deal/massive PR machine behind you. Rather than wait for standard approval, I just made my own. So it’s to help people showcase their talent and to get artists of different disciplines interested in, and motivated by, each other’s work.
Our first featured reader is actually Sam J Miller, who was a semifinalist in this past L Mag Literary Upstart competition.
You’ve also just closed submissions for your first ever poetry and prose contest. How’s the reading going? How are the submissions
Pretty routine, at this point. I have a few careful readers going through submissions with me, and we’ve had a review schedule set in place for the past couple of months. With so many irons, if I didn’t have a precise schedule I would go absolutely insane.
The contest entries have been promising. We got so many more than I expected, and I think, especially given the sheer volume of submissions, the really strong ones tend to rise up. I have a pretty good idea about which ones are contending for the win!