March 30, 2012

Number one!

This clip from Sesame Street brings together a lot of things I love and also I think we should pause a moment on the fact that Versal won FIRST PLACE in the 26th annual New York Book Show!

We are honored to be on the podium with our friends Bateau and The Common!

Here's what I wrote to my team this morning:

This is an award we can all feel proud of!

The award is for design, production and manufacturing quality -- you can read about their criteria here (scroll down).

The original design of
Versal was made 10 years ago by a friend of mine, Daniel Baars. Though he doesn't work on the mag anymore we have stayed true to the intention of his design. I have let him know about the award, as well as Amy Purifoy who designed the cover of Versal 9 - and props to the art team for pushing for the "I am happy" cover. I handle the interior layout and typesetting, and Robert, Shayna, Sarah and I sequence the issue.

But we have all of ourselves to thank for this -- it's a project that comes together thanks to all of your energy and commitment.
Together, we build something every year that is truly great. Choosing the work is the biggest part of this, and I think the design simply reflects the strong work it presents. So congratulations to you all. We rock buckets.

March 26, 2012

The Big Night

The night was indeed big, so "big" posts yesterday were impossible (a slightly startled Versal editor was told late into the evening that there was a clock change, much to his chagrin, his train ride only a few hours in the immediate future and a full beer in hand).

The Protagonist Party at Shakespeare and Sons was a big success.

On the way to the store I was lucky enough to see some graffiti from my friends the London Police and their sometime partner in crime Galo.

For those of you who haven't seen the inside of Shakespeare and Sons, it is truly one of the most attractive bookstores around.

Early in the evening we were treated to the musical stylings of Max Baille. This guy has played at Carnegie Hall folks. With Bobby McFerrin. THE BOBBY MCFERRIN. No joke. He performed a lovely Bach piece and some early folk dances.

Here's Max explaining to us the chord progressions of the last movement of the Bach piece he performed. 

The lovely Eliza soon followed with some standards. 

The fantastically named Alan Fishbone read a small section of his recently finished novel Methylene Blue. 

Later in the evening there were readings from Adrian HornsbyHer Royal Majesty and Tale of Three Cities, and a new printing of the essay Unpacking My Library was introduced by the organizers of the event, Paravion Press. By that time of the evening, light was bad and my camera out of batteries, so it is not well documented as the rest. 

Let's just say there was lots of sexy talk in Spanish. You should have been there. 

March 24, 2012

Last night I met with the lovely folks of Shakespeare and Sons, as well as Max Baille, Harriet Lee, and Rosa Rankin-Gee. Today looks like it will be good fun with lots of readings, music, and cocktails whipped up by Harriet and Rosa. If you happen to be in Berlin, drop by the store around 2 p.m. for the festivities. I will be doing a dramatic reading of Tornado by Carmen Petaccio, Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before by Brandon Getz, and some poems if time permits between 3 p.m and 4 p.m.

I'll have some photos posted on Monday since I left my USB chord in lovely Amsterdam.

Last night was more about personal enjoyment, so I won't bore you with the details, but I do want to share some thoughts and observations of the city in general. (I've spent a day in Berlin now, so you'll have to forgive my generalizations)

  • 90 percent of people in Berlin smoke. Lots. They aren't shy about bumming a zigaretten either 
  • Beers are wicked cheap
  • The Berlin Wall exhibit that runs along the Bernauer Strasse is absolutely harrowing
  • The beautifully designed Chapel of Reconciliation that replaced the old church of the same name, destroyed due to its iconic status as symbolof division between East and West Berlin, might be one of the most beautiful churches in Europe (if you like clean minimalism) 
  • Eine bier bitte is the easiest German sentence to learn 
  • There seems to be a fever for pigtails, at least on the street corners I've sat
  • Germans say ciaou for goodbye. I wasn't expecting this 
I'll update you folks about today's events sometime tomorrow!

March 23, 2012

Versal is in Berlin

Versal is participating at a special event this weekend at the Shakespeare and Sons Bookstore. If you happen to be in Berlin, come on down for literary discussions, drinks, and a special reading from Versal 9 by yours truly. Harriet Lee and Rosa Rankin Gee from Her Royal Majesty and Tale of Three Cities will be there, as well as Paravion Press, Paul Rekret from the University of Richmon, London, and musician Edward Dowie. Should be a cracking evening.

It almost didn't happen. My being in Berlin I mean.

I'm a terrible expat. I've been abroad for about 9 years and I have not taken a train ride to Berlin. In fact I've never been to the city. This is particularly shameful because–although my olive skin and Mediterranian features would suggest otherwise–my mother's side of the family is German. German Lutherans.


So I was more than excited–a bit giddy actually– to wake up yesterday at 5 a.m. and catch the ICE 141 to Berlin from the Amsterdam Amstel.

Can you imaging how deflated I was to discover that every train in the city was cancelled?

You didn't read that wrong. Every train.

Needless to say there were a lot of angry and frustrated people trying to get their trains. I was sent to Bijlmer Arena to catch a bus to Utrecht where I was assured I could catch the ICE, only to find large, swarming crowds of people trying to catch the same bus. The closest I've seen to a fight in Amsterdam was when an out of service bus going direct to Utrecht Centraal arrived and everyone pulsed forward in a huge wave. Madness I tell you.

Eventually I ended up in Amersfoort waiting for the ICE. I arrived in Berlin five hours late. As soon as I could I dropped of my bags at my friends apartment (I have a big stack of Versal copies to sell at the event) and hit the city.

Being the guy I am I went in search of a bar. This area is full of the big, spacious bars I tend to shy away from.

Why would I want a lot of light and fresh air?

Instead, I found the smokiest townie bar I could and plunked myself down on the barstool. I pulled out my copy of Wittgenstein's Mistress, ordered a .5L, and got down to the dirty business of being an alien without the language in the land of my ancestors.

March 21, 2012

Mythbusting the submission fee, part 2

A brief follow-up to part 1.

Versal 10 will be 168 pages.

That's over 3x larger than our very first edition.

That's big.

Our fears that we wouldn't get as much great work or as much work in general are clearly proven unfounded by the shear breadth and awesomeness of our upcoming issue.

Get your mailboxes ready. You're going to fall in love with the literary journal all over again.