Next Monday evening, the Poetry Project hosts a launch reading for Lunar Chandelier, a new Brooklyn-based poetry press. (The readers are Vyt Bakaitis, Lynn Behrendt, and Joe Elliot, whose collections are the first books Lunar Chandelier is putting put.) We had some questions for publisher Kim Lyons:
What’s your background? When, and why, did you decide to start a small poetry press here in Brooklyn?
Like nearly all publishers of poetry in the outer edges of the small press world, I am a poet myself. After nearly 30 years in New York of hectic poetry reading attending, writing, prior publishing projects including the last books of poetry printed on a mimeo machine—that was Prospect Books with Mitch Highfill—and as a kind of contributing editor to Joe Elliot’s Situations Press, and all sorts of interlaced happenings quintessential to this world, I thought to give back to the poets. It was time. I was banging my head against the wall trying to figure out a way to persuade some press to take a look at manuscripts by these poets and then: aha! Do it yourself.
I’m moved by the small presses in the Brooklyn Gowanus precincts: Portable Press at Yo Yo Labs, Litmus Press, Ugly Duckling Presse, Cabinet magazine, and Hanging Loose. And all of the hand-cranked, desktop efforts by poets in loose affiliation with the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, such as Sal Mimeo magazine and The Recluse. Not too mention the arty, super nice Vanitas magazine (and books). Not to mention the plethora of gorgeous Granary Books and the poets-run Instance Press.
Would you care to shine some light on the name “Lunar Chandelier”?
The name Lunar Chandelier came about in the time-honored way: two poets throwing around words and that’s what came up. I researched the name on the web and only hit retailers for lunar chandelier earrings and, providentially, the quote from Mina Loy’s poem from Lunar Baedeker, that goes:
with the chandelier souls of infusoria
it seemed like a positive omen. At that point, I was considering for the colophon image for Lunar Chandelier, a drawing from the illustrations of sea creatures by biological Ernst Haeckel, so the “infusoria” (which may refer to single celled cellia) usage by Mina Loy, an essential poet in my pantheon, was a delightful signal to go ahead. Later, artist and cartoonist David Borchart designed an elegant colophon that depicts a moon as seen through fragmented panes.
Thus far, how have Lunar Chandelier’s books found you?
The first three books out of the gate—Deliberate Proof by Vyt Bakaitis, Homework by Joe Elliot and petals, emblems by Lynn Behrendt—were all asked for manuscripts. For the future, I have a wish list of works I’ve heard at readings, writers whom I’d like to work with.
How about art—how have you gone about creating the aesthetic for your publications thus far?
The cover art for all three books was in every instance a collaboration between our graphic designed, HR, and the poets. She was unusually open to working with the poet’s conceptions and the images they brought to her. For instance, Lynn Behrendt works a lot with computer art and took the photo used for her cover art with her on-screen camera. HR also designs books for Belladonna Books and other poetry presses. The poets were given a fair amount of leeway. I know how much poets care about the cover art. So, the aesthetic was arrived at collaboratively and with diverse sources.
As publisher of a small press, you must have considerable say in the editorial outlook—what are your goals for the press?
The goals for the press at this juncture is to sustain its energies and bring the books to the readers who need them; and for the press and its authors to participate in the community; however a community of readers functions for the duration. These first three books are distinctively generous, mature and risky collections: subjective, lyrical, disclosing, open in form and means. I’m committed to the lyric as it’s evolved under 21st century pressures and as it’s taken in other experimental, open forms.