In Canadian vernacular, Upper Rubber Boot is slang for a remote, possibly unhip, probably insignificant place, much like America’s Podunk. Upper Rubber Boot Books was founded in July 2011 to give a voice to writers working from a (metaphorically) remote place, and to that end we publish fine literary and speculative writing, with a special focus on poetry and short story collections, genres which have a particularly difficult time finding a home in the publishing world. Our editions are available as ebooks only.
Tell me a little about yourself.
Joanne Merriam (Publisher, Upper Rubber Boot Books): In addition to being a small press publisher, I’m a writer (primarily poetry and science fiction) and work a day job as an administrative assistant to three surgical oncologists. I’ve always had the idea of running my own press in the back of my mind. What solidified it, for me, was something that the poet Molly Peacock said to me. She’s an American who immigrated to Canada, and I am a Canadian who immigrated to America, so when she gave a reading at Vanderbilt here in Nashville and I had the opportunity to talk to her afterwards, I asked her how she found moving to another country, because adjusting to the American literary culture has been a real challenge for me. She said that one of the reasons she started The Best Canadian Poetry in English series was to help with that disorienting adjustment, and advised me, “Start something! Then they’ll have to come to you.”
I started Upper Rubber Boot Books in the summer of 2011. In Canadian vernacular, Upper Rubber Boot is slang for a remote, possibly unhip, probably insignificant place, much like America’s Podunk. Upper Rubber Boot Books gives a voice to writers working from a (metaphorically) remote place, and to that end publishes fine literary and speculative writing, with a special focus on poetry and short story collections, genres which have a particularly difficult time finding a home in the publishing world.
I had been editing Seven by Twenty, a weekdaily online journal of pieces that were short enough to be published on Twitter (that is, that fit into 140 characters), so our first titles included a best-of anthology of 140 pieces from the journal, called 140 And Counting. I also did a reprint of my own poetry collection, The Glaze from Breaking, which was originally published in the UK by Stride Books, and a poetry chapbook by Heather Kamins called Blueshifting.
Our most recent titles include the anthology Apocalypse Now: Poems and Prose from the End of Days, edited by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum and Alexander Lumans, which contains short stories by the likes of Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates and Paolo Bacigalupi and poetry by writers like Brian Barker, Kevin Prufer and David J. Daniels; and Peg Duthie's Measured Extravagance, which contains a lot of formal poetry; and a dystopian collection of short stories by New Zealand's RJ Astruc called Signs Over the Pacific and Other Stories.
Which genres do you prefer to read?
Joanne Merriam (Publisher, Upper Rubber Boot Books): For Upper Rubber Boot, I like speculative (that is, science fiction, fantasy, magical realism) work with a literary feel, or literary work which exploits some of the tropes of speculative writing.
In my personal life, I read just about any genre — I like mysteries and romances and science non-fiction, too, but I don’t like them enough to spend months on one manuscript, so I don’t publish them. I read a lot of poetry, too. Most recently for poetry, I finished Wayne Miller’s The City, Our City, which is so, so good. The last prose book I read was Caitlin R. Kiernan’s excellent ghost story The Drowning Girl, which features a mentally unstable narrator, so you’re never quite sure what’s real in the world of the book, which made for a really compelling read.