In this second installment of our month-long appreciation of independent publishers, I have chosen to highlight the quite-proudly-Providence-based Burning Deck Press.
Before having read a single text by them, I felt an exuberant kinship with – and gratefulness for – their unfortunately uncommon publishing ethos. Their titles reflect a complete unconcern – perhaps a rebellious one; perhaps an ideological one; perhaps an intuitive one, one guided by its founders’ unqualified curiosity – for distinctions between academic and literary works. This aversion to specification has in turn contributed to a predilection for works that variously defy, blend, and construe elements of otherwise divergent sources; it is one of the few presses to whose catalogue I consistently return for recommendations.
Founded by the Keith and Rosemarie Waldrop – two of contemporary letters’ finest, most invigorating and inquisitive minds, and a kind of hallowed dream-couple of the literary world, at that –, Burning Deck boasts a tremendous variety of works: it takes a mere scan of their catalogue – from Walter Abish’s essayistic collage-fiction in 99: The New Meaning to W.D. Snodgrass’ renditions of medieval songs in 6 Minnesinger Songs to Marjorie Welish’s theoretical and experimental poetry collection The Windows Flew Open – to make the point clear that, though often billeted as a poetry publisher, Burning Deck simply seeks to publish – and often translate from the French – whatever its dual brainchildren are excited by.
Other than the titles mentioned above, the following are several books that I particularly cherish.
Alison Bundy, Dunce Cap
Robert Coover, The Grand Hotels (of Joseph Cornell)
Keith & Rosemary Waldrop, Ceci n’est pas Keith Ceci n’est pas Rosemarie