After winning the Pikes Peak Community Foundation's $10,000 Ingenuity Grant last year, and running a successful Kickstarter campaign, Mountain Fold Books opened its downtown doors last month. Marina Eckler and Jonathan Fey are still in fundraising mode, but now they're also looking for members.
"You can use the space, and read and buy without being a member, but we're looking for membership as a means of helping to support the book culture locally," says Fey. He compares the membership program to that of the local public radio station. "It helps keep us open and accessible to the public." Suggested donation is $10 or more, but there are perks for higher levels, such as T-shirts and totes.
Mountain Fold Books is unique to the Springs: It's dedicated to small-press print and journal publications, and giving the public access to books that might not otherwise be widely available.
"This is a physical bookstore for physical books," Eckler says. "We're at a really fascinating time in printed books. Mom-and-pops have been gobbled up by big-box stores and e-books, but people still want these places where they can discover new, local authors and writers."
Eckler says that now that they're official, they're looking for specific items, like locally produced zines. Right now they have only a single example of the self-published works.
These are produced in small runs, and contain original or appropriated texts. Big in the '80s and '90s, they were often printed entirely on copy machines. The Internet made it easier to reach more people, and e-zines took over, but paper ones are still out there, and Mountain Fold wants some for the reading library, or to sell if there are enough. There is a local zine-maker showcase on tap for Nov. 29.
Outside of their continuing search for artisan books to sell, and providing a reading space for the public to enjoy them, Fey and Eckler have booked a solid schedule of poetry readings and talks, including guests like Andy Fitch and Amaranth Borsuk and even an ASL Poetry Night later this month. The second poetry reading of the season is on Wednesday, and the person doing the reading is ... kind of a big deal.
Barry Schwabsky is art critic for The Nation, contributing editor of international reviews for Artforum, and the author of several works of criticism including Words for Art: Criticism, History, Theory, Practice. He's published several full-length books of poetry as well as chapbooks.
"Our reading series," says Fey, "has to do with the book as a material object. Online you lose some of the [reading] experience. [Schwabsky] engages with poetry in the same way that some of the poets of the '40s and '50s approached poetry. His work is a lot like those Japanese visual poems the poets of that era had access to. They're like haikus printed on simple paintings. They're visual poems, but spoken."
The day after his gig at Mountain Fold, Schwabsky will head to the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to talk about art as part of the Galleries of Contemporary Art's Visiting Artists and Critics Series. The two engagements will be completely different, owing to Schwabsky's two passions.
"At Mountain Fold," explains Fey, "he'll be reading from his works, while at UCCS, it'll be about the art, and the state of art today."
Look for Schwabsky's reading to last about an hour, with some interaction during the reading and after. There will be other poets there, of course, as Mountain Fold has reached out to the local poetry community, inviting its members to come and take part in this event.