Sewing and Growing: What it Means to Start Small

In collaboration with Eulalia Books and as part of a Small Press Publishing course, I was able to help in the production of Joe O’Connor’s poetry chapbook, “Why Poetry?”

While I am fairly skilled in using technology and designing, I was late to joining a team in the project and I only contributed minimally to creating announcement flyers for the project, as a result.

Covers of unbound “Why Poetry?” books. ©Eulalia Books

My biggest contribution, unexpectedly, was the manual threading of the spine of the book.  As someone who has terrible large motor skills and struggled during middle school sewing class, the idea of putting together several books that people would purchase was daunting to say the least.

Despite my concerns, I sporadically said “yes” and found myself sewing several books for the project.   Julia Snyder, threading expert, showed me how to sew the book and got me rolling in less than five minutes.  While I made a few mistakes and shed some blood along the way, thus creating an exclusive “Blood Edition” of the chapbook, I found the experience to be soothing and I felt proud of the multiple books I tied together.

I took pride in not only what I produced, but in participating in something I was unfamiliar with, which is a complete turnover from how I reacted to new situations in my childhood.  In recent years I have acquired an ambivalent skill set because of my willingness to be flexible, my sporadic tendency to say “sure” when I am asked to help out, and my desire to gain new experiences.  The reason I note this change is because I think the power of the small press and the power of entrepreneurship is underappreciated.

For people working within a smaller community or independently with limited resources available, a wide array of skills is needed to succeed.  Being an expert in just one skill is not always enough and I am proud to have been part of a group that acknowledges the need to try new things and share skills with others.  I wish that larger presses and other occupations encouraged diversification over specification, because I strongly believe that people grow as appreciative and understanding beings from trying new things.

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