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Jake Berry


(Editor, 9th St. Laboratories)



Jake Berry is a poet, musician and visual artist. The author of Brambu Drezi, Species of Abandoned Light, Drafts of the Sorcery, and numerous other books. He has been an active member of the global arts and literary community for more than 25 years. His poems, fiction, essays, reviews and other writings have been published widely in both print and electronic mediums. In 2010, Lavender Ink released a collaborative book, Cyclones In High Northern Latitudes, with poet Jeffrey Side and drawings by Rich Curtis; and Outside Voices: An Email  Correspondence (with Jeffrey Side) was released by Otoliths also in that year.

Berry's solo musical albums include, Liminal Blue, Strange Parlors, Naked as Rain and the Animal Beneath, Shadow Resolve and many others. With Bare Knuckles he has recorded four albums, Trouble In Your House, Alabama Dust, Doppelganger Blues and Root Bound. With the ambient experimental group Ascension Brothers he has recorded numerous albums including All Souls Banquet, The Wedding Ball and Pillar of Fire (which served as soundtrack for a series of plays by Ray Bradbury) and most recently Transfigurations Blues.

Ongoing projects include book four of Brambu Drezi (which will include a video for each section - the opening sections are available now at YouTube and, a collection of short poems, an online and print biography of the poet and critic Jack Foley, an album of experimental ambient music with Chris Mansel under the name Impermanence, an album of acoustic songs in collaboration with Jeff Berry and Van Eaton under the name The Cahoots, and an album of alternative rock songs in collaboration with Jeff Berry, Ben Tanner, Max and Kirk Russell.





Q: How has publishing changed with the advent of short-run printing and print-on-demand possibilities? Does this negate any need to sell a specific number of a title? Is this a freedom from traditional print expectations/values?


A: The publisher still wants to sell copies, but print-on-demand has relieved the publisher of having to take the risk that relatively large press runs required. Since it is now possible for anyone to publish themselves it transforms some of the decisions about who gets published to the poets. However, there are many poets who are reluctant to publish themselves, or don't have the money to buy more than a few copies. They still don't get the kind of promotion that even a small press publisher can provide. Print-on-demand hasn't exactly leveled the playing field, but it has made more poetry by more poets available to more people.


Q: Why does poetry continue to create schools and movements who feud?


A: Because it's petty. There is so little to gain that the gain is acquired by a very few people who usually center around a single ego. Some people in movements are under the delusion that their work is going to change the direction of literature, or change human nature, as Virginia Woolf supposedly said. Even the best work canít accomplish that kind of change. It's all about someone's self-delusion and convincing others to share in that delusion. People will fight to protect a delusion much more strongly than they will to protect reality because at base they know it is a delusion.


Q: With POD possibilities, including various organisations that will take on anything without a set-up fee and simply send royalties to the author, do poetry publishers need arts council subsidies any more?


A: The subsidies can certainly help, as well as endowments from private foundations. The problem remains however, who decides which publisher or poet gets the money. Recently a poet won a prize of $100,000. This was a poet whose work was already widely published. It would have made more sense to give $5000 to twenty poets who were equally deserving but were under published. The subsidies still help only a few. They could do more with the same amount of money, but this doesnít seem likely to happen unless the reality of POD wakes people up to the fact that there are more poets out there deserving recognition than might appear at first glance.


Q: If poetry presses are concerned with cultivating a wider readership, could this not be done more effectively via the Internet (where there are thousands of potential readers) rather than worrying about sales of printed poetry?


A: Possibly. Part of the issue could be how much people want to read on a screen. If screens are manufactured that are easier on the eyes or if people print the text themselves a wider readership could result. It is probably happening already, but it is much more difficult to gauge than book sales. There is no guarantee that a person will read a book merely by the act of buying it, just as their is no guarantee that a hit on a website is someone who takes the time to read everything on the pages of the site. However, since there is greater investment in purchasing a book than visiting a website and easier on the eyes, it seems more likely that a book buyer will read the text. It is still early yet. This will very likely change, though I don't  think we're going to see the disappearance of books any time soon.




copyright © Jake Berry