TRANSCRIPT: Interview with Brentley Frazer, Director, Bareknuckle Books by IRD Media Group.
– When did Bareknuckle Books officially launch in Brisbane?
For 13 years I published the online art + literature journal Retort Magazine. Retort went into hiatus in the middle of my PhD studies and then rebooted as an open access humanities journal named BareKnuckle Poet ~ Journal of Letters in April 2014. At the same time my partners and I decided to formalise our endeavours and publish books with an organic ‘life long lovers’ of literature model. Bareknuckle Books makes it’s debut into the publishing world with our first book by A. G. Pettet at the end of May with his collection of poems under our poetry imprint Bareknuckle Poets.
– Where did the inspiration for the company come from?
I named Bareknuckle Books and our journal Bareknuckle Poet in reference to the poet Lord Byron who, born into a defeated and bankrupt aristocratic family, resorted to bare knuckle fighting matches to pay for his dinner.
The inspiration to found an organic independent publishing house arises from diverse and divergent areas. I think the word ‘inspiration’ signifies a sudden light-bulb type eureka moment, which in this case didn’t happen, except for in the case of the name. My interest in writing and making that writing available to read (publishing) have gone hand-in-hand all of my life. As a child I got hold of a mimeograph machine that my school had upgraded and printed a newspaper and annoyed every adult in town to buy a copy, every week. I self published my first collection of poetry in 1991 by using the photocopier at the Commonwealth Employment Service.
As for real-life blood and dirt reasons why I started an independent press, this comes down to my observation over the last 25 years in the writing business that Australia has far more excellent writers than it does reliable publishers. Too many writers (poets and literary authors in particular) wither away in solitude and lose their voices simply because there are no publishing opportunities for them. Australia has some outstanding small presses, (Giramondo, Puncher & Wattman, Vagabond et al.) but they are backed up for years and I see few new voices. Bareknuckle Books is a new opportunity for these writers to be heard.
– Why was Improvised Dirges chosen as the first book to be published?
A. G. Pettet is one of the finest working in my generation of Australian Poets. I published his first collection of poetry in paperback in 1996 under the imprint of Sabazeos Books. Back then I had to pay to get zinc photographic plates made for glossy covers and track down back-yard binders in ruined industrial estates. He is one of those poets mentioned above, writing and getting published internationally for over 20 years yet because of our demographic all the publishers are choked up and have never come knocking. His verse is unique, powerful and betrays a sensitive masculinity that seems to have been beaten out of literature since Hemingway left us.
– When will it launch to the market?
Improvised Dirges: New & Selected Poems by A. G. Pettet is now available for order online at our website and will begin to be available in bookshops in early June.
– What other launches are planned for the year?
Next up we have Rock & Roll: Selected Poems in Five Sets by prominent New Zealand poet Mark Pirie. This collection has a wide demographic appeal, in particular to those who love 80’s and 90’s rock and roll and grunge music.
Later in the year we release a collection of poems by American cult author Kris Saknussemm, followed by the first annual anthology of all the best work from our humanities journal Bareknuckle Poet. Following that we release our the first book under our children’s imprint ‘JOEY’. We are working with artist, author, art therapist and Department of Children’s Services caseworker Carolyn McCosker who has produced a gorgeously illustrated and powerfully written book specifically tailored for children who are in, or entering into, foster care.
– What marketing is being done to promote the books launch?
Our organic approach and our belief that we are offering a good thing for the cultural development of not only Queensland but Australian literature seems to be working so far. Our brand will be as ubiquitous as the Facebook logo, just wait and see.
– Does the company utilise a PR agency to help out at all?
Not currently, but if someone wants to offer their services we are all ears.
– Lastly I’d love to know what’s coming up next for the company? Do you have any big plans coming up over the next few months?
We have many other projects in the works and amazing writers we are speaking with. Stay posted and visit our blog or subscribe to our twitter feed, you won’t find yourself left wanting.
We will be very busy and very visible promoting out first books and supporting A. G. Pettet when he appears at the Brisbane Writers Festival this year. See you there!