Friday, 16 November 2012

The House That Books Built

Susan Glickman's opening remarks before her reading at the November 8, 2012 Signal Editions launch held at Drawn & Quarterly bookstore:
Before I read you a few poems from my new book, The Smooth Yarrow, I want to say a few words about a subject close to my heart and, I suspect, to the hearts of everybody in this room. In the wake of the recent bankruptcy of Douglas & McIntyre and the merger of two big multinationals into the even bigger House of the Random Penguin, we’ve heard a lot of dark prophesies about the inevitable death of independent publishing in this country. Well, being a poet whose language never fails her, I have only one thing to say to that: bollocks! I am only here tonight because of the vision, energy, dedication, and hard work of Simon Dardick and people like him. There are, in fact, 130 members of the Association of Canadian Publishers, so theoretically there are at least 129 other people like Simon out there. But I doubt there are many whose service to Canadian publishing has continued, unbroken, for 40 years. 
Simon has been with Véhicule Press since it began in 1973 on the premises of Véhicule Art Inc., one of Canada's first artist-run galleries at 61 Ste-Catherine St. West (a space that housed a famous jazz club, Café Montmarte, back in the 1930s). In 1975 the press became Coopérative d'Imprimerie Véhicule—Quebec's only cooperatively-owned printing and publishing company. It moved spaces twice more before the co-op was dissolved in the spring of 1981, and Simon Dardick and Nancy Marrelli continued operating Véhicule Press from Roy Street East, where they still live to this day: the house that books built, and one that might just come tumbling down if you move too many bookcases. 
Simon invited me to submit a manuscript after reading some poems of mine in The Canadian Forum that year. Michael Harris, the founding editor of Signal Editions, edited my first book, Complicity, which came out in 1983. When Carmine Starnino took over as Signal Editions editor in January 2001, he was kind enough to keep me on as one of his authors. So I have a lot to be grateful for, having been with Véhicule Press for thirty years. In fact, I have been married to Simon Dardick longer than I’ve been married to my husband. 
L’autre chose á laquelle je veux attirer votre attention est l’engagement de la presse, dès la commencement, á faire les traductions élegants de la poésie francaise á l’Anglais. Je suis très heureuse de partager la scène ce soir avec Pierre Nepveu et Donald Winkler. Pour tous, je tu remercie, Simon. Will you please join me in a round of applause for a man who has never given up on his commitment to make beautiful books by Canadian authors for Canadian readers?