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Inside the Canarium
Joshua Edwards, Director and Co-Editor of Canarium Books, took part in this interview at iO.
Talk to me about the beginnings of Canarium. Where did this idea come from? How has it evolved as a press? How do you handle issues of distance in the editorial process?
JE: Canarium Books developed out of The Canary, an annual poetry journal edited by Anthony Robinson, Nick Twemlow, and myself from 2003 until 2008. A friend and supporter, Ed King, helped us get the journal up and running and stay running for six issues, then Robyn, Lynn, Nick, and myself decided we’d like to try our hand at a press. We came up with a plan that the University of Michigan Creative Writing Program (where I did my MFA) liked, and they really helped make everything possible: the school hosts a Canarium reading each year, students serve as editorial assistants, managing editors, summer interns, and manuscript readers, and the program covers the cost of printing (which is done just outside Ann Arbor by McNaughton & Gunn). It’s a fantastic partnership, and we couldn’t do it without them. Two former UM students, Russell Brakefield and Franke Varca, were managing editors who continue to be a big part of the editing process, which usually happens after a month-long open reading period each year. Because our editorial offices are split between Michigan, Iowa, and California, we have small meetings in each place, then get down to brass tacks over e-mail and Skype.
Thinking back again to when Canarium began, what do you do now that you would never have imagined when your first thought of starting a press? What day-to-day work goes into running Canarium?
JE: I think we had a pretty good idea of what we were getting ourselves into because we ran the journal for so long, and we knew the literary landscape by the time Canarium Books began, but I didn’t anticipate all the hustle–tons of correspondence, fulfilling orders, entering contests, traveling to AWP, driving for reading tours. I really enjoy all aspects of the day-to-day, but it does take up a lot of time. On a slightly different note, I would never have imagined making so many good friends as a result of running a press.