Eric Baus with Andy Fitch

Eric Baus

Over the summer, Andy Fitch has interviewed 60 poets about their latest books. Ugly Duckling Presse will publish these collected interviews in 2013. This interview focuses on Baus’ book, Scared Text (Center for Literary Publishing). Recorded May 2nd. Transcribed by Maia Spotts.

Andy Fitch: Can we discuss Scared Text’s cover, as a means of approaching less concrete concerns? You’ve called this cover image by Morin “appropriately gross,” which it is, though not for reasons I expected. Each separate bug (a diverse array) gets highly individuated, picks up autonomous identity. Everybody looks better off on his/her own, yet yoked together to construct a digestible tableau—like a Balthus painting. Scale seems perfectly drafted for the isolated, individual being, but bizarrely distorted when placed side-by-side, with the beetle as big as a mouse it eats, or fucks? The overall composition feels self-contained, square, if also potentially part of a more expansive, cathartic scene. Then on the book’s back, a blue beetle gets cloned in reverse, restructured. Does this help to describe what makes the cover “appropriately” gross? And, can I just add, the palate remains warm and earthy and cheerful.

Eric Baus: Your description resembles how I think about serial poems—focusing on relationships between different parts. As you spoke I stared at the cover and imagined each bug as its own paragraph. That makes a lot of sense. And the image’s tone does seem important, since each book I’ve done contains a kind of world-building, like in science fiction or film. So the cover design lets you walk into the book’s world. This includes discrete, unrelated beings placed beside each other so that you register strangeness, you know something strayed out of place but not so much that it looks random, or deliberate like a collage. The poems share this sensibility. I worked at the level of the word and sentence, looking at undertones, looking at implicit doubles. Still I didn’t have much agency picking this cover. I suggested something I love and the publisher vetoed it and picked the perfect thing.

Andrea Rexilius with Andy Fitch

photo of Andrea Rexilius
Andrea Rexilius

Over the summer, Andy Fitch has interviewed 60 poets about their latest books. Ugly Duckling Presse will publish these collected interviews in 2013. This interview focuses on Rexilius’ book, Half of What They Carried Flew Away (Letter Machine Editions). Recorded May 6h. Transcribed by Maia Spotts.

Andy Fitch: I’ve got a couple design questions. The first came as soon as I glanced at your manuscript’s title fading into gray. By the time I’d reached its end, it reminded me of digitized verbal art by someone like Jenny Holzer. Does this idea of kinetic text cued for the fleeting event, rather than the fixed, final object appeal to you?

Andrea Rexilius: I do think about text in a kinetic way, as communication based in tactile experience. I actually didn’t design this book, but did make up the title, which suggests processes of erasure while keeping in place some sense of fixed, forward movement. This text’s accumulation provides an active experience, an unstable act of pinning down language.

Eric Baus with Andrea Rexilius

Over the next year, Andy Fitch will be asking participants from his Ugly Duckling Presse interview project to pair up and interview each other. By placing parallel interviews alongside his own, Fitch hopes to demonstrate that no one talk is definitive, that there are an infinitude of possible trajectories for such a discussion to take. In this interview, Eric Baus and Andrea Rexilius discuss their latest books.

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