Tag Archives: Gratitude

A MELTING: Vouched Presents (+ The Rumpus + Omni Commons!)

19 Mar


 Our favorite literary angels, Mike Young and Luke Bloomfield are in town for their Western Snowmelt Tour!

In a related story: TONIGHT Vouched,  The Rumpus, and Omni Commons are throwing them a party! Featuring readings from people we love, a Vouched table full of new goodies, and a Very Serious Contest, wherein you stand to win a book-prize from the Rumpus! As usual, there will be donuts.



This is a FREE event with readings by:

Mike Young

Jayinee Basu

Na’amen Tilahun

Leora Fridman

Luke Bloomfield

We can’t wait to see your faces at 7pm! Confetti!

The Rumpus is a place where people come to be themselves through their writing, to tell their stories or speak their minds in the most artful and authentic way they know how, and to invite each of you, as readers, commenters or future contributors, to do the same. What we have in common is a passion for fantastic writing that’s brave, passionate and true (and sometimes very, very funny).

The Omni Commons is comprised of several Bay Area collectives with a shared political vision—one that privileges a more equitable commoning of resources and meeting of human needs over private interests or corporate profit. We invite you to join us in establishing a safe, productive place to pool resources for the collective use and stewardship of the greater community. A space that fosters an ethic of radical collaboration across disciplines and between individual collectives, creating a living model for future radical spaces.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1558927211044106/

Farewell, from Vouched Indy

15 May
First Vouched Books table outside Big Car Gallery, October 10, 2010

First Vouched Books table outside Big Car Gallery, October 10, 2010

I’ve been wrestling with this for months, and especially in the last several weeks. Even still, I feel a race and a crush in my chest as I type this: June 7th will be the last Vouched Indy table. I’ve decided to close up shop here and transfer the flag to Vouched Atlanta, where Laura has been doing absolutely incredible things to build and promote the small press and literary culture.

I want to say thank you to all the readers, writers, and publishers who have supported Vouched from the very beginning, some now defunct: PANK, Annalemma, Mud Luscious, Publishing Genius, Hobart, Artifice, Rose Metal, DZANC, Magic Helicopter. The list goes on and on. And those are just the publishers–that’s not to mention the hundreds of incredible people I’ve met in the past three years: Roxane Gay, Matt Bell, Molly Gaudry, JA Tyler, Adam Robinson, Justin Sirois, Matt Seigel, Aaron Burch, Casey Hannan, Tim Jones-Yelvington, Tadd Adcox, xTx, Devan Goldstein, Aubrey Hirsch, on and on and on.

Lastly, I want to thank my wonderful contributors, past and present and future. I wouldn’t have lasted this long without all of you–especially without Tyler Gobble and his boundless energy, Laura and her gumption. I can’t wait to see what Laura builds as admiral of the Vouched fleet.

The small press community has shaped and changed my life in ways I can’t even express, and I will remain grateful to the eventual grave. I intend to remain a part of it in some way, will probably hang around and post a review here or there, and look forward to seeing everyone at future AWPs and readings. Here’s to Vouched. Here’s to you all. Here’s to everyone who has ever understood what it means to be small.

An announcement!

27 Feb


Running a Vouched table has its restrictions- Christopher & Tyler can attest to this. It is a labor of love that would prove cumbersome otherwise- lugging a table and an oversized rubbermaid of books into different venues, setting up and tearing down. Often, when I side-shuffle with the rubbermaid back to my car after an event, I ponder the limitations of the guerrilla bookstore – how restricted we are by the size, portability, and durability of the books we carry.

Opening a bookstore would contradict the heart of Vouched. It is SO key that we’re nomadic. We have no overhead! No bills to worry about! No employees, really, aside from ourselves! We can keep our price points low and set up the table on a whim if we like. Often, in the Spring and Summer, I contemplate just setting up with some lemonade (+bourbon) on any ol’ sidewalk. We have the freedom to do that.

Still, it is a vexation that certain titles just don’t work with the nature of our guerrilla bookstores. It’s something I’ve struggled with since launching here. That is until Youngblood Boutique approached me a few weeks ago about carrying some of our wares permanently in their store.

Youngblood is a staple here. Located right along the main drag of the Poncey Highlands, they’ve been kicking ass since 2003 by offering a broad variety of fresh work from local and national artists and artisans. Really, their mission is  a broader version of our own. They’ve been fervent supporters of Vouched since we launched here in Atlanta- going so far as to donate their space for our launch reading in July 2011. Here’s a picture from that.


As of March 14th a special run of Vouched Books will be regularly available at the boutique. Being there opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for what can be sold- it’s a thrill to bring a whole new body of literature to the city through this partnership.

To celebrate- we’re throwing a party– a release party taboot! We’re also celebrating the release of David Courtright’s beautiful chapbook of poetry Animal Bodies– lovingly designed, hand-sewn & assembled collection of poetry from Two Steps Press in Athens, GA. It will stir your insides! Our readers for the evening? David Courtright, Molly Brodak, Bruce Covey, and Maggie Ginestra. Plus, there will be music from Christ, Lord! All of this goodness will take place on Thursday, March 14th. Readings will commence at 7:30 p.m.

Here’s a promotional video for the chapbook.

The next few weeks will be full of reviews, interviews, etc. to get you as pumped as I am!

Laura Straub’s END O’ THE YEAR list

21 Dec

My futon’s favorite people:
Matt Bell & Brian Oliu, Amber Sparks, and Tyler Gobble.

Cool Presses that started working with Vouched the past six months: Lazy Fascist, Sarabande Books, Queen’s Ferry Press, Curbside Splendor, Spooky Girlfriend, and Black Ocean.

COVER ART: May We Shed These Human Bodies and The Collected Works of Scott McClanahan, Vol. 1

People I’m still confused to have not met IRL yet: Mel Bosworth and Christy Crutchfield

My Husband’s Budding Bromances: Ben Kopel, Tyler Gobble, and Kory Calico

Top 5 Stage Presences in no specific order: xTx, Devan Goldstein (when reading and also when he sings the shit out of some Bon Jovi), Amy McDaniel, Zach Schomburg, Peter Davis.

Favorite Dance Party: Lit Party @ AWP- duh! 

Thing that makes me feel like !!! every time I read it: Ravi Mangla’s Visiting Writers from Uncanny Valley Press

Favorite special thing: Electric lit’s recommendations in my inbox. SO RAD. Also Matthew Salesses’ Writer in Residence series at Necessary Fiction.

These book tours came and BLEW ME AWAY: Bloof books tour, The Southern Comfort Reading Tour, & the Over the Top tour.

Awful Interviews that still make me laugh big and large:  Joshua Ware, Michael Nye, Matt Bell, & Nicholas Tecosky (who still owes me an arm wrestle…)

Finding Again the Fire, AWP 2012

9 Mar

Vouched Lit Party 2012 Table Team

There is an energy at AWP I don’t understand.

I tap into it as soon as I first arrive in the bookfair. It enables me to stay up 3 nights straight until 4:30 in the morning. It enables my feet to withstand miles upon miles of walking and hours upon hours of standing. It enables my liver to oxidize more alcohol than I should ever ask it to, my throat to endure more whooping and laughter and conversation than its cords were ever built for.

It’s the books and the readings and the panels, sure. Ten thousand people who care about the same thing in the same place creates a glow. But it’s also all my friends being there, a sense of belonging I feel few other places ever. It’s knowing I won’t see the vast majority of them for another year.

* * *

For the last 2-3 months, I’ve had few fucks to give about books. Every single Vouched table or post I’ve done since early December has had to push through a wall of misanthropic inner monologue, of guilting myself out of obligation to keep caring about Vouched and words and people. The effort to get me to show up was huge, and I can only thank Tyler, Layne, and Ashley for wanting to hang out at the last few Vouched tables, for giving me the reason and energy beyond a table of books to keep showing up.

If I’ve vouched something of yours these past few months, I want to tell you it was no small thing for me to have loved and enjoyed your work enough to cough out a couple hundred words here and maybe tweet or post about it on facebook to draw some traffic to your work.

Sometimes what we love takes more energy from us than it gives. If we can’t find energy elsewhere to reallocate to what is draining us, burn out happens. This happens no matter how much you love someone or something. Sometimes, the more you love something the quicker you burn out, because you naturally give more to that love and sometimes that love can’t give back in equal amounts. Sometimes, this is no one’s fault. Sometimes this is no one’s fault but our own.

* * *

Books can’t give us anything we aren’t willing or able to give to them. If you’re in the business of writing, publishing, or bookselling, and you forget this, God help you. God help us all.

For some people, books can sustain them. If you are one of these people, fuck you. I envy you in a way you can never understand. For me, it’s the people behind the books. I have to make it about people. Or rather, 25% the books, 75% the people. I love you people, because let’s face it: I don’t always love the books, and I feel terrible about that because I want to love them; you, a person I love, poured yourself into this thing. But I hope it’s enough that I love you.

I love my contributors here at Vouched, the publishers I work with. I love Jim and the Big Car crew for giving me a space to hold readings and being excited to work with me. I love the authors whose books I sell. I love the people who’ve believed in Vouched from the start: Roxane and Adam and Bell and Burch and Wickett and Young and Heavener and Housely. The people I get to see once a year at best, I love you: Koski, Straub, Seigel, Sirois, xTx, Jesus, Etter, Gaudry, Tyler, Salesses, McNamara: I am always so glad and dumb to see you. New friends: Devan, Boots, Hannan, the Akron crew, KMA, Kleinburg: I’ve cried 9 times since we left. And my old BSU profs who believe so much in Vouched: Neely, Lovelace, Christman, Scott, Barrett, Davis: thank you, thank you, thank you.

It is all of you, more than your books, that sustain me. I eat so very little at AWP, but feel full to bursting.

* * *

I miss buying your books. Last week, KMA Sullivan offered me a free review copy of I Don’t Mind If You’re Feeling Alone by Thomas Patrick Levy, a beautiful beautiful book, and I almost cried, I said, “Please let me buy this book.”

I’m sorry if this sounds ungrateful. The review copies that show up on my doorstep, thank you thank you, but I can’t take them anymore. I am drowning in them.

God, that sounds so ungrateful, and I’m sorry, I really do appreciate them so much, but they’ve become 2 entire shelves full of guilt: guilt that I’m a slow reader, guilt that I want to love them all but don’t, guilt that I have bought very, very few books this past year, books that I’ve wanted so much to buy, but haven’t been able to justify because I have 2 shelves full of books at home waiting to be read.

Please let me buy your books again, or at least swap it for one of my own (I have one now, and it’s incredible, this small wonderful thing). I miss it so much.

* * *

I already miss you so much.

* * *

I have no pictures of AWP except the one up there from the Literature Party, compliments of Glitter Guts. I can’t thank the table team enough for their work Friday Night. I can’t thank Zach and Gene and Adam for letting us be a part of that event. That night, like the rest of the weekend, needs no pictures. I brought my camera. I could’ve taken hundreds of them, but what’s the point. I’ll remember you all always.

* * *

I’ve woken early every morning since returning from Chicago. I have things to do. I have Vouched Presents: Heather Christle, Ben Hersey, and Tyler Gobble next week. I have the Over the Top Reading Tour next month. I have to contact Housely and book a flight to DC for the Conversations conference. I have to unpack.

I have energy to give. Thank you.

February 13th: VouchedATL Presents Review!

26 Feb

On February 13th Vouched Atlanta hosted a reading at the Goat Farm with readings from Atlanta’s own James Nichols, Kory Calico, Jessie Donaghy, and Nicholas Tecosky. Such stupendous readers! Such a lovely evening! I want to share a bit about it with you before AWP craziness kicks in later this week in Chicago.

First off was James Nichols who read us poems and told us a bit about his punk rock/hardcore days. Everyone related. It was some kind of wonderful.

Following him was Kory Calico, who read us a poem and a short story that was poignant but not distressing. Calico is one of the most authentic people I know. Everyone should like him. Everyone does.

After a short break Jessie Donaghy took the reins and shared her words with us. There’s one poem she read about crocheting that really stuck with me. Here’s an excerpt of it from her website:

...loosely, with firmness in my fingertips,
pressing the latch and yarn
as I might a rosary; I mark minutes
with each thrust and loop,
remembering that only time
and the letting go and holding

Nick Tecosky took to the stage and had everyone crippled with laughter by the time he finished. He read us two of his favorite pieces he has written for WriteClubATL. They were stupendous. He reads with a fervor you have never before witnessed. We all tipped our hats to him. And then we laughed!

So many thank you’s to the Goatfarm and our lovely readers for making the evening such a success! Thank you also to everyone who joined us that evening!

The next Vouched Presents will be on Friday, April 6th! Please join us for this crazy badass line-up of readers:

Vouched Presents: J. Bradley, Tyler Gobble, Melysa Martinez, Christopher Newgent, Amy McDaniel, Brian Oliu, and Matt Bell! More details about that reading soon…

xTx & Frank Hinton Chapbook Contest- WINNERS!

31 Jan

We’re so pleased to announce the winners of the xTx and Frank Hinton Chapbook Contest! First, Safety Third Enterprises, xTx, Frank Hinton and I would like to thank all of our participants for making our job so difficult. It was not easy to pick a winner when there were so many stellar submissions to sift through. Sift we did though. Here are our selections. 


Don’t bother reading xTx unless you’re willing to unscrew heads, burrow inside questionable skins, lick a stranger’s plate clean while feeling up your fears. 

-Joe Kapitan

Frank Hinton: 

The bird rises as the sun sets again, Frank Hinton.

-DeWitt Brinson

Congratulations Joe and DeWitt!

Again, thank you to everyone who participated!

To order your own copy of Frank Hinton’s I Don’t Respect Female Expression or xTx’s He Is Talking to the Fat Lady visit Safety Third Enterprises’ online storefront. Digital copies will be up for grabs tomorrow.

Ta da! All in one place: your very own literary gift-giving guide. You’re welcome.

9 Dec

If you’re like me, you plan on buying some books for loved ones this holiday season. And you’ve been reading all these Facebook and Twitter updates and getting excited about all the holiday specials and deals and sales and then…you promptly forget who or what they were for by the time you buy your gifts.

No more! For I have been watching, and paying attention, and taking notes; and I have compiled for you all a certainly-not-even-close-to-comprehensive-but-large-anyway guide to literary gift-giving this year. Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Holidays to all of you and I hope you can find some great gifts in this list.

For the reader who has no time to read: Get him or her a copy of Mud Luscious Press’s Stamp Stories Anthology! Not only are these stories bite-size, at 50 words or less, but they’re also a pretty wide selection of current literary talent in the fiction world today.

Speaking of Mud Luscious, one of the best deals going right now is the Mud Luscious Press subscription. For 40 bucks–35% off the cover price–you get the entire set of 2012 MLP titles: Gregory Sherl’s THE OREGON TRAIL IS THE OREGON TRAIL, Matt Bell’s CATACLYSM BABY, Ken Sparling’s DAD SAYS HE SAW YOU AT THE MALL, & Robert Kloss’s THE ALLIGATORS OF ABRAHAM. Yeah. Seriously.

For the international philanthropist: a copy of Roxane Gay’s Ayiti. They’ll feel like they’re doing some kind of vague good overseas, and meanwhile you’ll be subversively introducing them to a fantastic literary talent AND some truth-telling about the Haitian diaspora experience. Or pick up the Writers Abroad Anthology – sales benefit The Book Bus, a non-profit aimed at increasingly literacy in Africa and South America.

Dalkey Archive Press is selling 20 books for $120 books, which means you can pick up some books for yourself along with stuff for your loved ones, too. And Dalkey’s catalog is immense and terrific, so there’s something for everyone.

Black Ocean is offering a subscription to next year’s full catalog for $50,and that means a subscriber gets all this: Hunger Transit by Feng Sun Chen, , Fjords by Zachary Schomburg, Handsome Vol. 4, Dark Matter by Aase Berg, trans. Johannes Göransson, and The Moon’s Jaw by Rauan Klassnik. Yikes.

Over at at Uncanny Valley, they’ve got a deal going where if you buy a magazine and give them two extra bucks to cover (part of) shipping, they’ll send one to a friend of yours, gift-wrapped, for free. Again–I love things where you give one AND get one.

This is a great (and very pretty) deal: $20 for 8 chapbooks from Birds of Lace Press, plus Anna Joy Springer’s novella.

If the one you love needs clothing, bags, accessories–but loves books, might I suggest Out of Print? I love this store for all things book-related, especially the awesome t shirts.

And finally, I won’t list them all here, but on Big Other I posted about the best books I read in 2011. Any and all of these would make lovely gifts for the people you like. And even for the people you don’t. I didn’t include links here, but please try to buy from your favorite indie bookstore, online or off.

And last, but certainly never least: all of you and your brains. Please leave a comment if your press is having a sale and I didn’t mention it, or if you have a great holiday idea of your own for the book-lovers we know. Thanks!

Happy Holidays and happy reading and gifting!




WCI’s Annual Gathering of Writers in Indy this Saturday, Nov. 12th

8 Nov

If you’re in Indiana, I highly suggest checking out the annual Gathering of Writers, put on by the Writers’ Center of Indiana this Saturday, November 12, from 10am-5:30pm. It’s being held this year at the Indiana Landmarks Center, just north of downtown.

I’ve been the past couple years, and have come away each year with a few pages of words to work with, and some great insights from the instructors.

Plus, it’s always a great feeling to see that there are fantastic writers doing fantastic things right here in our own state. Sometimes it’s easy as a writer in Indiana to get swallowed in the idea that our state is a drab place, especially as the clouds of winter start to settle in. The Gathering serves as a great reminder that we have a great many things to be excited about, to write about.

I will be there bright and shiny with the Vouched table, and I hope to see you there! Much thanks to the Writers’ Center for giving me the space to shill some books!

Thanks Creative Loafing!

20 Oct

So many thank you’s to Atlanta’s Creative Loafing (and  Wyatt Williams) for writing this feature on VouchedATL for their Arts Issue, released today! It’s a honor to be coupled with so many phenomenal arts efforts in Atlanta.

Here’s an excerpt where we discuss Matt Bell’s How They Were Found, among other things:

The small-press books that Straub sells don’t have big marketing departments running promotions in newspapers or buying prominent placement in retailers like Barnes & Noble. In fact, you might be hard-pressed to find a copy of them anywhere else in town. Prior to starting Vouched, Straub read Matt Bell’s How They Were Found, a collection of short stories published on an imprint of Midwest nonprofit publisher Dzanc Books. “I love that book, and it was frustrating going to bookstores and not being able to find it really anywhere in the city,” she says.

As the cost of publishing a small run of books has declined, independent publishers have taken a cue from the DIY ethos that emerged from punk and indie rock record labels a few decades ago. They’re publishing work by adventurous young authors writing unabashedly contemporary work often deemed too risky or unusual by big publishing houses.

Read the rest of the article at Creative Loafing’s site, along with articles about what’s going on with the arts in Atlanta (so many awesome things!).