Interview with Josh Dale, Founder of Thirty West PH


If there was ever a mind worth picking with regards to excellent writing or questions about the publication industry Josh Dale is the human, you should be looking for.  He is the EIC of Thirty West PH and all-round kind human being.  I fell in love with the way Thirty West PH presents their books, there is always something unique added to the book to really make it a priceless possession.  Just to give you a few examples of what I mean; B. Dani West’s book head had playing cards, Inner Warfare by Anissa Fritz went through a ruination like no other book I’ve ever seen in my life.  It’s these little accents that really make for a wonderful product when you are purchasing from a small printing house like Thirty West.  For more information on Thirty West PH check out their site here and follow on Instagram: @jdalewrites , @tildeliteraryjournal & @thirtwestph .

RMMW: When we spoke last, Tilde was a fresh new journal?  How has it evolved over the seasons?

JD: Tilde has been an experiment nonetheless with no one issue alike. We started accepting submissions in the winter of 2017 and ever since there have been dozens of contributors from all around the globe gracing the pages. It also changed in size, going from a typical periodical to a standard book form. Also, with all the publishing minutiae. It’s opened more doors than it’s closed, and the ceiling is so high. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes, especially when we table at some book fairs this year. We are locked into CLMP’s PressFest! and Brooklyn Book Fest so far this year, so come say hi!

RMMW: What exciting surprises do you have in store for 2019?

JD: Well, it wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you now, would it? (laughs) For now, the chapbook contest winner will be something of a wonder. But keep your eye out on our website. Your menu options may be changing.

RMMW: Who has been your favourite writer to publish? And why?

JD: I’m an only child so the idea of having siblings enchants me. It gives me a social connection that I’ve never had. Sappy, yes, but a personal joy. With that being said, I treat our authors like siblings and to show preferential treatment would be to betray the trust between us. Blood is thicker than water, no? Small presses shouldn’t be concerned with the likes of corporate advances and Nielsen ratings.

RMMW: What has been your favourite book accent for example trading cards, wooden covers or the ruinations?

JD: This is a good one. Whenever ruination comes into play, I savor the fact of putting flame and dirt to a book. But there is also craftsmanship to it. I’d say the most complex assembly was Ben Sloan’s The Road Home wooden sleeve. The number of cuts and amount of adhesive needed to craft it was enough to make it interesting (over a hundred linear feet of pine was needed) and rewarding upon completion. The steps of measuring, cutting, gluing, sanding, varnishing, and the burning the title was a fun experience in general. However, the closest bull’s-eye Thirty West has made is with Jules Archer’s All the Ghosts We’ve Always Had. The vellum dust jacket and the opaque display of the cover art were the most aesthetically pleasing. It’s elegant, yet opaque, and grabs the theme of the chapbook. It helps that she and all the readers loved it too!

RMMW: What do you think is the writer's role in our society?

JD: Writers are conductors. Writers are soldiers. Writers are shamans. Writers are enlightened hominids spinning in this macrocosm we call home. Anything it takes to reveal subjective truths and overarching concerns of this mortal coil, a writer shall do. It may take a few days to many decades, but it will happen. Even the dusty journals stored away in someone’s basement will one day be exhumed and polished up. Just because it isn’t being read, doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable.

RMMW: How do you select writers you'd like to publish?

JD: 80% or so of our manuscripts are unsolicited. As a small press, we are reliant on the work to march through our door, spread itself out on the kitchen table, and say, “Read Me, Now”.  I allow our editors, Chanel and Sarah, to also read through the submissions to see what work stands out. Or, what kind of work have we yet published? We’ve been humbled at the sheer number of submissions we’ve gotten through the year, for both Thirty West and Tilde, with the latter having its own independent team of editors to choose what they enjoy. I’ve been pondering over the idea of serialization of longer works for The Weekly Degree, our weekly online journal, so that would be something special in building report for the author’s work.

RMMW: Why was it important for you to do a pamphlet series?

JD: I wanted to see how we could combine three completely different types of poetry under one aesthetic. I had my doubts at first, given the idea of visually combining the trio into a single entity. That is until Carolyn Brandt came along and made some of the best cover art I’ve ever seen (Go Owls). Seeing how the cyanotype theme became the seed, while each pamphlet sprouted into its own singular being was a treat for Thirty West to indulge in. It could become a reoccurring project in the future, but for now, I want to let it simmer.

RMMW: What is the most important lesson you've learned as the EIC of Thirty West?

JD: I’ve learned many lessons over the course of 3+ years and still have a lot more to learn. One thing is for certain though: always take care of your authors. The press may ebb and flow monetarily and physically, but an author’s honest judgment will not. Going back to the sixth question, we would be a shadow of ourselves—or non-existent even—without the initial faith our authors place in us. Being a paying market, it gives more responsibility, more of a reason to keep striving. Every author starts somewhere, and we are glad to be part of whatever career tier they are at.

RMMW: Where do you see 30W 5 years from now?

JD: The obvious goal is to still be relevant! There is no telling in which direction the market will sway or where a breakthrough author will be published first. Surely things will be more professional, more innovative, and with more gravitas. More festivals too and many more authors published. But like aging, you don’t realize how much you’ve grown unless you count the milestones. Thirty West has hit a few in its short life. Five years’ time will cross plenty more and I’m ready to see those next steps be taken.

RMMW: How do you manage your work life balance?

JD: I really don’t. Any small business must be supervised at nearly all times. I’ve worked—and currently, work—at small businesses & firms and I know that they are inherently taxing on the mind and body. When we have slow periods, I do my best to prioritize rest while I brainstorm for the next month or so. There are times when I just need to put the pen down—slam it down if necessary—and take a hiatus, especially with being in grad school. It’s made me value patience and the ability to prioritize has been honed over and over. I’ve seen many differing opinions on the “hustle and grind”, but I see it as a temporary problem for a long-term solution. People can burn out via time or the effort put into time. I choose to hopefully let the former be what lifts me from this mortal coil. As long as I can get ½ of my ‘To-read’ pile taken care of…

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