Interview With Founder Of Analog Submission Press, Marc Brüseke

Decades ago, I had the idea to print my own poetry books on this fancy blue cloud card stock, not the fluffy kind of clouds -- more like cirrus marbleised clouds.  The shades blended blue, white, and grey together. And, to bind the book I used this beautiful thin royal blue ribbon.  It was the first collection I had created of my work.  I remember how proud I was that the typeset and organization of my first chap, back then the pages were not numbered -- just a free flowing book. When you have a handbound artefact in front of you, you realize that it really is one of the most beautiful things you can gaze upon.  Founder of Analog Submission Press, Marc Brüseke, knows exactly what I am talking about -- as he is responsible for carefully crafting these gorgeous chap books.  I can only imagine how his finger prints nearly rubbed off by the amount of paper he has folded.  I'm sure many out there think that it is easy to put a 30 page back-to-back chapbook together, there is careful consideration that goes into each one that Marc produces. For more information on Marc or Analog Submission Press please do give a follow on Instagram @analogsubmission and check out the site www.analogsubmission.com.

RMMW: Have you ever been creatively blocked? If yes, how did you overcome it?

MB: Often there are too many ideas, all at once sometimes, and I struggle to assimilate them all into my creative being. Which I think is just as bad as too few ideas. No ideas, too many ideas. They both have a tendency to stifle productivity and the progressive drive for self actualisation and artistic fulfilment. Like our lives entrenched in a state of hyper-capitalism - perpetual flows of exchange that seemingly evade our focus, yet bark unremittingly for attention. The path of overabundance leads to the desert of choice. Going to the supermarket it becomes easier to choose a tube of toothpaste when there are just five brands, as opposed to five-hundred. How many times have I sat in front of the television, staring into the vast Netflix library and instead of watching something I spend my time navigating menus. We always want to ensure we are making the best choice, choosing what is best for us, but excess choice seems to lead to consumptive paralysis. So, I think a key skill for me, ends up becoming the ability to attenuate this bombardment of information through the development of reflection and focus. REFLECT, EVALUATE, and then FOCUS.           

RMMW: We all have an inner critic; how do you contend with yours?

MB: I try not to overthink things. I work fast and refrain from dwelling on projects. I’m constantly aware of the dangers of ‘overworking’ art. ‘First thought, best thought’, I suppose. If we stare at something for too long, we start projecting imperfections into it. We then seek bandaids to patch up these imperfections. And the bandaids often look messy and they become noticeable. When a piece of writing is overworked, I think the reader can tell. Overworked writing doesn’t flow. Its stiff and harbours too much self awareness. So, I get the work out fast, before the inner critic even has time to catch his breath. But not too quickly. You see, art for me becomes a balance between ‘sloppy-speedy-work’ that looks rushed, ‘in-the-moment-thoughtful-despatch’ that looks inspired, and ‘overly-self-aware-critique’ that looks censored and unfree. I suppose there is an equilateral triangle of sorts there, of push and pull. And the goal is to find the middle, a balance between the three points. SPEED. INSPIRATION. SELF-AWARENESS.     

RMMW: Do you have any rituals before starting a new book project for Analog Submission Press?

MB: Not really. It all seems to come together rather organically. Skim read the manuscript and if it pulls me in, I read it again, this time slowly, thoroughly, reflectively, start to finish. Then throw the text through all the formatting, typesetting, layout and aesthetic considerations, implement and suggest edits, line breaks, alterations, etc. Then put on some loud music without lyrics - I can’t listen to lyric driven music while creating, it distracts me too much - I end up singing the lyrics or worse yet, typing them out onto the page! Instrumental music, free of the human voice, puts me in a trance and is an absolute asset to the creative process. I don’t think I would be able to design a single cover or write a single word of poetry or prose without being engulfed by music. I never drink or get high while I’m creating - creativity for me requires total focus, alertness - I need a seamless, clear, and strong connection to the space in which I’m immersed. Design work usually comes together very quickly once I get going, I think THE VISUAL is a lot more immediate in stimulating a response from the brain, text is abstract and requires some thought before a connection is reached. THE VISUAL is primal, atavistic even, it seems to tap into something more immediate. And I always work alone, in a room with a locked door and absolutely nobody else around. I will never understand how some writers work in coffee shops. I talk to myself out-loud while creating, I have full-on conversations with myself, alone yet loquacious - asking questions and answering questions. I walk up and down the room, jump up-and-down as if using an imaginary skipping rope, spin round-and-round on my chair like it’s a carnival ride. They would kick me out of coffee shops.     

RMMW: What is the origin story of Analog Submission Press?

MB: A friend and I were talking over a few drinks one night about how we would go about getting our writing out into the world. We both shared a deep love and appreciation for bohemian artistic sensibilities - The Beats, the punk movements, and all the rough and ready aesthetics these movements embodied. The initial idea was a monthly maga(zine) containing a collection of curated work but this idea soon gave way to single author short books (chapbooks). The work of 1960s Cleveland, Ohio based publisher DA Levy (1942-1968) was a major source of inspiration to me. I would read about DA knocking out all these publications on his mimeograph and get shivers down my spine. I needed to know more. I needed to be a part of it.
RMMW: Tell me the benefits of small hand-bound chapbooks as opposed to a mass-produced paperback?

MB: I think the theme is ultimately something that is limited, rare and collectable. Something that is a one off, something that feels unique and special. It’s a counterattack, a playful spit in the face of the industrialised culture industry, consumerist hegemony, infinite digital reproduction and the repetitious cycle of consumer malaise. I suppose there is a philosophical questing for verisimilitude too. A tangible limited artefact. I think the tiny imperfections that are evident in handmade objects separate them just enough from mass products, they become a bridge between ‘craft’ and ‘commodity’. I’m a big fan of William Morris (1834-1896), he was a British designer and writer and is mostly remembered for his social activism in the textile and design industry. Morris witnessed firsthand the effect industrialisation had on arts and crafts. The speed of the industrialised process required that each individual in the production chain produce only a single component of the final product they were working toward. So, for example, I might spend my whole life making chair legs and I would be a great chair leg maker, but I wouldn’t have a clue how to make a complete chair. Morris recognised that while the industrial revolution increased productivity, it also led to the reduction of the individual’s rounded personal skill set. And isn’t that what our lives are now? We live lives surrounded by objects and processes that we understand very little about. So, a handmade object in 2020 becomes many things - sure, there’s the socialist resistance element to it but it also just feels really great to put something together yourself - to work with materials and see it all come together. It’s an act of creation and innovation. It’s very human.      

RMMW: I noticed from your Instagram bio that you are based both in South Africa and the UK -- where is your favourite place to reside between the two?

MB: That’s a tough one. It’s a situation of pros and cons really. Both Africa and Europe have their upsides and their downsides. As a South African who grew up in Cape Town with a German father, the European identity has always had an association with my being. But I suppose the depths of my identity will always feel African - the first sunset I saw was an African sunset and the first sand between my toes were grains from Africa - it’s in my soul. But half of my family were from Europe and so there is certainly a pull to this part of the world too. Europe is more structured and regimented which means, for the most part, it’s safe, secure, orderly and predictable. These are great factors for day-to-day living. But with orderly and regimented structures, there exists personal restriction and thick walls of bureaucracy. Africa is far less bureaucratic, with a looser structure, and with a more unpredictable day-to-day life - its more dangerous you could say. ‘Freedom’ is an interesting concept, because on one-hand we desire a society that is ordered and predictable but in another sense I think we also desire uncertainty and danger because it is in these times and situations that self reliance and personal innovation thrive. Again, it all comes back to balance. I would like to experience life in both parts of the world. Travel has been a big part of my life and I suppose I’m just grateful to have experienced the variety of cultures that I have. Travel is important. As far as I can tell, there are at least three major sources of education in this life; READING, TRAVEL, and LIVED EXPERIENCE. And of course, it’s a balance between the three.                     

RMMW: To date how many Poet chapbooks have you published?  Who are among your favourites?

MB: Analog Submission Press has published 133 chapbooks to date. It would be near impossible to single out specific publications, or writers. It changes almost daily. I have never published anything I didn’t love or care about. All 133 chapbooks gave me something, I believed in each and every one of them. I feel a connection to every writer I’ve published. There’s a relationship and story with each publication. 133 connections.

RMMW: At what age did you start writing Poetry?

MB: The first time words appeared on a page, I was probably around thirteen or fourteen years old. I kept a series of notebooks when I was a teenager. But I think we also need to define what we mean by ‘writing’. For me, the majority of ‘writing’ doesn't happen on the page. It happens in my head. Some ideas and arcs will persist in my mind for weeks, months, perhaps even years. In my head I will continuously rework them. But when I actually sit down to write, the process is fast. So, one person might say, that poem only took you five minutes. But the reality is, I've been thinking about it for 5 months. In a sense, we are all ‘writers’ - how many times a day does each of us imagine a variety of outcomes, fabricate creative possibilities, overhear the stories of others and imagine our own take on it, or incorporate those stories with a spin into our own lives. So much of our day-to-day life is lived in our heads - imagining worlds of possibilities. The only difference with a writer, is that they choose to render those worlds as linear text wrapped in narrative.  

RMMW: What is your favourite Poetic Style to scribe?

MB: I’ve always loved verse that was able to fuse the sensibilities of more than one style. Something that successfully manages to combine high concept with heart and soul. I love honesty and brevity but equally verse that is ‘concrete’ in layout and surreal in tone. I love writing that is versatile, writing that doesn’t lock itself in. Writing that isn’t afraid to experiment but still has a sense of what it means to be grounded. One of my favourite poets of all time is FA Nettelbeck (1950-2011), FA’s combination of ‘concrete’ poetry with gritty outlaw realism is an awe inspired creation of grounded surrealism. But you really need to read several of his publications to get the feel of how he was working - how he continuously changed things up is truly inspiring. ‘Bug Death’, ‘The Taste’, and ‘Everything Written Exists’ are just three examples of publications that illustrate the different sides of FA’s genius.   

RMMW: It's honestly refreshing to see hardbound artefacts, how many printings do you normally produce in one run?

MB: The majority of publications exist as 25 copy runs; however, I have done a few 50, 75, 100 and 200 copy runs. They are also all hand numbered and as of recent, hand stamped too. Each and every copy is made by myself.

RMMW: What do you feel are the benefits of owning your own press?

MB: The people you meet. That has to be the greatest benefit. Creativity, to me, is very much about connecting with and relating to others. Finding your TRIBE. Knowing that someone has read your words and has related to them, knowing your words have become personal to someone else. Writing and reading is ultimately a conservation between two people. The writer and the reader. The publisher is then the medium, the bridge between the two. 

RMMW: What advice would you give someone who is just starting out with their own press, what are certain must do's they must complete in order to achieve certain success?

MB: Starting your own press is easy. Anyone can start a press but not everyone can keep it going. Like a lot of things in life, it’s all about endurance - that’s the hard part. Keeping at it. One only has to look through a directory of small press publishers to recognise that most start-ups only last a year or two. For most, its a short-lived endeavour.  The reality is hard work for no money. And not everyone is comfortable with that. You have to believe in what you are doing; it has to give you purpose and meaning. And passion, you need passion. You have to absolutely love what you are doing; it must fill you with inspiration. It’s impossible to get sincerely enthusiastic about that which you don’t really care about - it will show, people will notice, and the venture will be short lived. So, yea, I would say that ENDURANCE and PASSION are the most important qualities to have. Find the passion, develop the endurance, and all forms of success will follow. I think success, like happiness, is a side effect of doing what you love.   

RMMW: If you had a superpower what would it be?

MB: I’ve always been really fascinated with time, particularly its relationship to memory. It’s a powerful mechanism that we all use in the building of perspective. What we refer to as the 'past' exists only in relation to the 'present'. As we think back to different moments in our lives, it’s the 'present' mind that builds and rebuilds those memories - layering on a variety of filters depending on our current state of introspection. It’s the ‘present’ mind that tells us certain times were 'good' or certain times were 'bad’. This mental plasticity and perspective fluidity is, a contributor to a range of paradigms, such as guilt, regret, joy and purpose. The 'past' is in constant motion, reliant on the 'present' to give it validity. It's the same with the 'future', it’s always a projection of the 'present'. The 'present' is a car accelerating down the highway and we are sat in the passenger seat. We look through the windshield and try to gauge what’s coming toward us but it’s too far off and we can't quite make it out. We look in the rear-view mirror to see what we’ve just past, but it moves increasingly beyond sight, too small to make out, too small to gauge - “Did we just pass a green car, or was it blue?" Which then becomes, "What colour would’ve I liked it to have been?" So then, a superpower. I would like to be able to see beyond the temporal veil and gaze into the absolute. And while such VISION would likely drive one mad - what a brightly coloured journey it would be.       

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