The poetry of objects La Dïéresis,
a small press
Just like communicating with your partner, relatives or friends by email or chat isn’t the same as doing it face to face, the reading experience, when done on a digital format, is reduced physically as well as emotionally, without being able to heft, smell or feel the shape of a book. Any reader knows that, but it is clearer to those who, despite living in an era of immediacy and an irrational demand for information, have chosen to stand up for the physical publication of books. Among that group, are the small publishers, also know as “homemade” because it is common for their workshops to be located in their living quarters and in spaces that are gradually moved due to the tools needed for the production of a book.
Anaïs Abreu and Emiliano Álvarez, founders of La Dïéresis, are an example of those passionate and tireless publishers that enjoy reading so much that they want to pass it on by conceiving books that, in addition to having revealing texts of their preference, are visually attractive and original.
Roberto Calasso acknowledges the distinctive feature and lineage of the publishing task in a brief essay entitled “Publishing as a literary genre,” compiled in La locura que viene de las ninfas (Madness from the nymphs). That’s where he emphasizes the publishing form, namely, the work implied in making the selection and sequence of the books to be published, and at the same time, taking into consideration what texts will complete the edition and how the book will be presented as an object. Calasso classifies Aldo Manuzio as the “Nadar of publishing,” that is to say, if one wants to understand what is essential in publishing, one must know Aldo’s work. I mention him because Manuzio was the first to write brief introductory texts to the books he published, which he called epistulae. He adds:
It was the first indication that all books published by a certain publisher could be seen as links of the same chain, or passages from a line of books, or fragments of a single book created by all the books published by that publisher. This, of course, is the most audacious and ambitious goal for a publisher, and it has been so for over five hundred years. And if it seems like an impracticable business, one must only recall that literature too looses all magic if it does not hide the impossible in the background. Something similar, I believe, can be said of publishing, or at least of that peculiar way of being a publisher that has certainly not been practiced very often throughout the centuries, but has oftentimes had memorable results.
I feel I do not exaggerate when I state that the work of La Dïéresis is one that produces memorable results. This is due to the fact that, to a great extent, Anaïs and Emiliano do not make book-objects; they produce, if I may say so, book-sign. At times, one can appreciate a meticulous reading of the text, as well as a detailed production of the book, where form and content coexist artfully. One must only take a look at their titles to notice it. For example:
Soñar tu insomnio (Dream your insomnia), by Luis Téllez-Tejeda, is a collection of poems that talk about sleep. It is presented in a sewing box with the essentials needed for said activity. The poems are printed on a binding cloth, laminated with paper that also supports the embroidery. In this case, linking form and content in such a way was the author’s idea.
Vida y muertes del maestro Cha (Life and deaths of professor Cha) is an oriental tale by Demian Marín. The book is a tea bag.
Mi casa se calló del caballo (My house fell off the horse) has a round story: one day, Anaïs and Emiliano went to a poetry reading by Francisco Hernández and came out particularly moved after hearing a poem. Two years later, they met the poet and presented their project, proposing he joined their catalogue with a poetry book or a single poem. Hernández accepted and asked them for time to figure out what he would turn in. Content with the reply, the publishers of La Dïéresis never imagined that the poem they would receive was the one they had loved two years back. The book’s concept for the poem was completely inspired in his verses. The house it talks about was yellow (hence the color of the frame), it had bougainvillea (hence the color of the ribbon) and it was abandoned (hence the illustration of a rickety door).
Papalote (Kite) by Emiliano Álvarez, is based on a kite made by Toledo that Emiliano gave to Anaïs and wrote a poem as a dedication, which later also turned into a kite. The final version of the poem had changes because it was adapted for a younger audience that is more attracted to these flying figures.
La tortuga feliz (The happy turtle) is a children’s story written by María Tabares; it was another excuse for the publishers to experiment with papers. In the story, when the turtle retrieves into its shell, the leaves are black, and when it suddenly turns upside down, the leaves are light blue.
Carta al mundo: 20 poemas de Emily Dickinson (Letter to the world: 20 poems by Emily Dickinson) is a bilingual compilation by Hernán Bravo Varela. Because it is a letter, La Dïéresis chose to give the book an epistolary aspect and created a package with a postmark that has an envelope with a wax stamp containing the poems in single sheets of paper.
Entomofilia (Entomophily) is a book of poems by Luis Flores. 9 insects, 9 poems, 9 small bags arranged as if you had an insectarium in your hands.
10/10 is the compilation of ten tenths of the baroque poem by Luis de Góngora, published to celebrate the 400 years of the birth of Soledades (Solitudes), his most renowned poem. There are ten dots on the cover, whose layout makes reference to the structure of the tenth spinel. This book has a deluxe edition that comes in a cedar wood box, produced by the craftsmen of Carretilla Roja; this edition only had 10 copies.
As shown, the trait of La Dïéresis’ publications is that the content is revealed through form, so that at the strike of an eye, each book informs of the content, and in some cases, portrays the author’s obsessions.
Another aspect we observed in this brief account of their publications is that authors of different languages and times coexist in La Dïéresis’ catalogue. When asked about the criteria used to put it together, this is what the publishers replied:
An editorial catalogue is also a path of thought and reflects a whole set of ideologies (aesthetic, intellectual, etc.). In our case, it is also an attempt to create a design proposal that explores the possibilities of the book as an object. For a text to be included in our catalogue, it is necessary for it to fit in these two big criterions properly: intellectual and literary, as well as material. The discoveries of such texts have occurred in three different ways: firstly, the text is interesting enough to be included in our catalogue; hence we find the author or owner of the rights to negotiate a publishing agreement (although, evidently, if the text is free of rights, this last part is not necessary, and we immediately initiate the publishing process). Secondly, we’re interested in an author’s work in general and so, we look for him to present our project, and if he is interested in being published with us, we ask him to propose a text. Lastly, an author is interested in La Dïéresis and decides to send us a proposal. If we like it and feel it fits in our catalogue, we accept it.
That’s as far as the authors of the texts. However, in many of La Dïéresis’ books, we have decided to include the work of an illustrator to go with it, complete it and dialogue with the literary text. In that sense, to us, the illustrators also become authors. Until now, we’ve had to look for the artists that we’ve worked with. That search is always set forth with the idea of finding the most suitable artist for each project.
That is to say that in selecting the authors of La Dïéresis, one feels freedom and commitment with the editors’ choices. Certainly being an independent small press represents, for many, a type of economic suicide, but there is no other way of safeguarding that creative freedom that allows this young publishing house to present itself as a modus vivendi and a defense to reading as a vital experience
To Anaïs, La Dïéresis is:
A way of life that results from a series of ideological beliefs even if it entails many responsibilities. And also, I firmly believe that in moments of crisis, the only salvation we have is to create. In La Dïéresis, I express all my creativity.
For Emiliano it is:
A tailor’s drawer where many essential things in my life fit: among them, an alternative way to creativity, a series of political and aesthetic convictions, an essential part of my life project shared with Anaïs.
The track they both leave is present in every single one of their books. Unfortunately, there’s no place for these types of objects in bookstores, causing their distribution to be oftentimes made directly to the publishers. If you’d like to contact them, you can do so here: http://ladieresis.blogspot.mx/ or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.