a conversation with Wendy Vardaman 5/15/2016
This interview series talks to Wisconsin- and Midwest-based book and letterpress artists about their relation to the handmade, its appeal in our digitally centered culture, the significance in their print work of texture, textiles, and text, and their relation, positive or not, to tech.
I spoke to writer/artist Kristy Bowen, proprietor of dancing girl press & studio about her sources of inspiration and how she balances her pursuit of writing and visual art with publishing a prolific series of more than 300 chapbooks by women authors connected to the Midwest. I first met Bowen five or six years ago at a small press festival event – maybe in Milwaukee – she was sewing up books by hand, putting beautiful covers one at a time onto thin stacks of folded poems. She made an impression, as did the fact that she was creating the books, right there, at the festival.
The dancing girl website describes how she started:
The goal? To produce inexpensive, but still very stylish and beautiful, publications on a shoestring budget even if I had to assemble every single copy with my hands. To publish poets who were emerging in the morass of contemporary poetry, poets who fell through the cracks between the mainstream and avant-garde. Poets who wrote interesting and surprising work that varied from the mundane. Poets who employed hybridity and collage. Poets whose work was like nothing else.
I wanted to especially publish and promote the work of younger poets in my own generation. Also Chicago poets. Midwest poets. To publish projects that created their own worlds. Projects that were implicitly or explicitly feminist and women-centered. Projects that had an impact on readers both visceral and cerebral. To create lovely objects from paper, one of my biggest obsessions. To design interesting and gorgeous covers. To explore all the possibilities of what a “chapbook” can be.
Bowen answered questions about small press publishing, letterpress, and more in our conversation.