“...a guerilla marketing strategy that exists to bring the poetry of the underground and
small press poets of the world to the mainstream.”

an interview with the veiled anonymity of the GPP by brianmorrisey & erikaking

This poem may be the last best hope for real literary art...” Is this referring to the publishing process the way the art is distributed mass media compared to small press?

THAT QUOTATION ACTUALLY REFERS TO ALL OF IT, as the broadsides hidden by GPP Operatives represent a collective effort that is a categorical rejection of the status quo–at least as envisioned by the mass publishing media conglomerates. Poetry has lost it’s place in the larger human machinery. To big box publishing, information has taken a back seat to entertainment–and if art is a reflection of society, then art too, has been forced to the back. The current publishing paradigm has no place for modern poetry....there’s just no way to sell it–and if money can’t be made by it, then it will not be given an outlet...period. The independent press should be the antidote, but as any small press publication will likely attest, you can’t possibly hope to stay afloat if you rely on sales. That’s a hard, sad truth...but a truth nonetheless. The GPP and its Operatives are able to take poetry written in relative obscurity and put it directly into the hands of readers all over the world–all without being reliant upon sales. Since our Operatives and Patrons fund the mission, we can give it away for free and expose unsuspecting new readers to an entire world of writing they otherwise might never have known.

We might be wrong, but we feel that a much larger poetry reading audience is out there—it’s just been either ignorant of, or denied access to, the work being produced today. Maybe it’s just never occurred to many readers that poems were being written, in a readily accessible language, about things that just might be relevant to their own daily struggles here in the early 21st Century. Our hope is that a GPP broadside opens a door to the poetry being produced today. We believe that a poem can still matter, even in a society where it’s been marginalized into greeting cards and eulogies, and we hopefully bring beautifully printed work to people in a way that surprises and delights them.


What do you think is the impact for a reader who comes across one of your broadsides, encountering poetry in a very unexpected manner rather than in a more structured way?

FORTUNATELY, WE DONT HAVE TO WONDER; we have lots of actual testimony from broadside finders that attest to the power of discovering a poem when least expected (especially when the poem is artfully presented and writ in language that is clear, accessible and exciting). We hope it impacts the mind in a dramatic fashion, and drives the finder to the website–inviting a deeper reading of both that and other small press poets’ work. But, heck, don’t take our word for it–here are a few choice quotes from actual broadside finders:

“As one cannot force the horse to drink from the trough, we can but offer it a carrot & tempt it to near the hydrating source. & in a world where everything seems to have its price, this project brings butterflies to the belly of my heart...”

“What a beautiful way to bring people together. I worry that books, poems, or any kind of verse is falling further and further away from human attention. What a joy it was to find a vein of resistance in my town...”

The core (anonymous) members of the GPP noted as ten writers and publishers who have been working in the small press for a collectively large number of years seem like the chairmen for the small press. Is it enough though? Why the anonymity? I understand it is a collaborative for small press poetry, but no one was elected to run this collaborative to represent the small press, so how do we know the GPP has the right ten behind the effort? I understand you need ten founders to get up and running hard, but if someone decides to drop off the radar for the GPP, will you remain with the core foundation of the GPP, or bring someone new in? Will they be elected by the GPP members or chosen by you to keep the anonymity?

THATS A REALLY BIG AND DIFFICULT QUESTION to answer. It’s very important to point out that despite our admitted flair for outlandish hyperbole the GPP is only a new and different kind of publishing venture. It’s a way to get small press poems to more people without relying on the Achilles heel of the small press: sales. In truth, we’re only slightly different than a journal or zine; instead of a monthly magazine, we letterpress two broadsides; instead of making 100 copies of a magazine, we make 1,000 copies of each broadside; instead of being one editor, we’re an experiment in a kind of “collective editor.” So questions like, “how can the world be sure the right 10 are behind the effort” are hard to answer. We suppose the only way to know if we have the “right 10” is to see if, at the end of time, everything has worked out! When we first started this crazy scheme, we were really pretty content to simply publish the best poems we could get and spread them around our hometowns and wherever we happened to travel. We’re making some waves, maybe reaching some new places, but we aren’t the leaders of the small press...quite the contrary. We’re just a team of dedicated and determined folks working hard to make our idea a reality.

We certainly don’t think of ourselves as the “chairmen” of the small press, as you say. We just feel that if we want poetry to have a chance to matter again, we have to get it in people’s hands. If they won’t buy it, then we still have to get it to them, even if it means giving it away. If we want the small press to be “recognized,” then the work it does must get out there and stand toe to toe with the poetry in bookstores and libraries where the people can decide if it’s legitimate or not. That’s all we want; for small press work to have a chance to be judged by book-buyers and readers on its own merits. That’s also the reason for the relative anonymity: the point is to support small press work as a whole and encourage new readers to discover a poet’s work they really like but otherwise never would’ve known. “Small press fame” is an imaginary concept, and a disgusting one that breeds contempt among contemporaries. We think no one needs to “get the credit” for the idea of the GPP, that it’s better to remain as nameless and faceless as possible so the Project might live or die as a collective. It’s better if the individual names of the poets and printers involved in the administration of the project don’t “get in the way” of what it’s trying to accomplish. The idea itself has to remain more important than anyone’s “name” if we are to continue making strides and reaching readers worldwide.

Let's talk about the selection process for which poems are chosen to be out there building a strong rep for the small press.... So what qualifies a poem for the GPP? Should the poetry be cutting edge (modern) written in readily accessible language relevant to daily struggles? I will buy that it should be written in an accessible
format to reach a universal audience and generate interest, but why is struggle a redeeming aspect of the poem - is it what people can identify with the most today? How is the poetry chosen, by the ten core members of the GPP, or is it a collective decision of al its members?

WE'VE ALWAYS WANTED THE WORK THE GPP PUBLISHES TO BE PRESCIENT, as well as representative of the variety of poetry found throughout the small press. We ask our Operatives to submit brand new, unpublished work for every round of voting, though of course that’s not always possible, nor is it required. Like all magazines & journals, we have some specific guidelines, basically dictated by the length of work we can publish on 1 side of a broadside. If “struggle” is a recurring theme in the GPP broadsides, it’s partly coincidental as each round’s voters are different. But struggle as a theme is certainly something most readers can relate to and has been for centuries. Read 1,300 year old poems by Li Po and you’ll find plenty of “struggle” there. And that’s the point: to connect with new readers in a meaningful way.

In the past, the GPP Core plus 10 guest voters have voted on which poems to print with the top vote-getters being printed. But our ether-boss has recently perfected his design of a double-blind voting system that now makes it possible for everyone in our ranks to not only submit their own work for consideration, but to help us decide which poems to print so the voting process now matches the project’s spirit perfectly! The Core takes a first pass at all submissions, keeping every poem they’d like to see published while eliminating the sub-par work. Then any and all GPP Poets, Patrons and Operatives vote on the blind poems, with the top 12 vote-getters being printed over the following 6 months (give or take some time for designing, etc.).

So what do you picture as success for the GPP? One of your critics said that there is nothing revolutionary about any of the GPP concepts at all and there is little risk involved — that if you are a writer with an ounce of talent, you will develop readership without making a “public spectacle of yourself.” What is your response? Do you feel this is a public spectacle and the GPP is a revolutionary concept that will eventually expose the small press into the hands of those who appreciate it and would have otherwise never stumbled upon it?

WELL, THAT'S GREAT! Now that we have critics we must be legitimate, right? Well, everyone has an opinion, but if it’s something insightful, we’re wise to listen; if it’s something ridiculous then we’re wise to disregard it. We’ve never said we’re “revolutionary;” some of the people who found our broadsides have said that. We just publish poems and get them to as many people as possible. Just like Poesy, The New York Quarterly, remark., the defunct Blue Monk and every other small press publisher out there. And so far, so good.

Success, for us, is being able to do what we do: printing great poetry in a beautiful way. If we have ten members or a thousand, we’ll hopefully be able to keep doing this...and that is success. Selling out of the GPPReader and having it used as a classroom text at Modesto College, mentions on Canada’s CBC1 and in The Guardian, articles in magazines like Poets & Writers...all that stuff is gravy, and something that allows us to reach more people. We’re not really sure what’s meant by “public spectacle” or how to answer that; maybe it’s all that gravy mentioned above. But if there was a ticker-tape parade and some lame-ass masquerade ball, well, we didn’t get invited. Our Operatives work quietly. If it’s a spectacle, it’s an anonymous spectacle.
As to whether or not a writer will develop a readership, that depends what is meant by a readership. We don’t see books by such small press legends as Huffstickler, Winans, Menebroker, Draime, or Ed Galing in airports or falling off the shelves at Barnes & Noble...so what is a readership? One that makes the writing a viable commodity? One that makes the publisher and writer a little money? If that’s a readership then, no, not every writer with an ounce of talent has that or can cultivate that with their work. Now maybe it’s true that more readers prefer Danielle Steel’s “mysterious lumberjack chopping wood, shirtless & smelling of woodchips” to a good small press poem. Fair enough. But those poets have been writing terrific stuff in the small press for decades now and still their readership isn’t what it deserves to be. Even though they’ve appeared in journals like the legendary Wormwood Review. More importantly, they haven’t stopped winning new readers, which means they haven’t yet reached everyone who is willing to buy their stuff. So we must think of other ways to reach folks, show them the work, give them a place to buy a copy. That’s what the GPP experiment is all about. Will it work in the long run? Who knows? But we are getting poems into people’s hands, as the registered broadsides will attest.

Will it matter in the end? We guess ask us again whenever that is and maybe we’ll know.

How does one join the GPP? Will you ever consider rotating core members? Or do you feel like you have rounded up the most dedicated and experienced team possible?

We have added other members to the Core Group as people have shown a dedicated interest in helping run this day to day. All GPP Members are involved in choosing who we publish by voting on broadsides and submitting work, but there are things like administrative duties that could not be done by two hundred people, so there are a few folks who work the levers behind the scenes that aren’t going anywhere. We are certainly not against adding members, but people are added as they bring something to the group that benefits us all. There is no prestige in being a Core member, just a great deal of time spent slaving over a hot computer or letterpress. Most Core members do a hell of a lot of work for the GPP. We welcome others that have the ability to help us spread the word and are willing to be Core members. We are a semi-anonymous group, so being a Core Member carries as much weight as being an operative or patron.

The team at the GPP didn’t have to be rounded up; they came together to support the mission of their own volition, and we welcome all who believe in the cause of getting great poetry and great printmaking art to unsuspecting readers.

register to become an operative at: