It has been a difficult week all around: eruptions of racist violence everywhere, and now a racist President of the US saying “start shooting” at Black protesters. Doesn’t he know that the shooting, the killing, started a long, long, time ago now, and never seems to stop? Or that Black lives are more valuable than a Target store? (Those are obviously rhetorical questions.)
This week, we’re making copies of Mary Weston Fordham’s Magnolia Leaves, a collection of her poems first published in 1897, with an introduction by Booker T. Washington. We’re making a change in our donation strategy for this book: instead of donating the profit to an organization like Carnegie Community Action Project, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, PACE or any of the others we’re giving to with this project, we’re going to take any money left over after production costs (ink, toner. paper) and shipping and donate it to Black Lives Matter Vancouver, in solidarity with Black people who have not only lived with the police killing of George Floyd, but also with the weight of centuries of violence, abuse, and erasure.
Very little knowledge of the life of Mary Weston Fordham survives. We know she was born about 1862 in South Carolina, and was a poet and a teacher. Black American women writers were sparsely published during the 19th century, and reviews of their work seem to be nearly nonexistent.
Softcover, 4.5×6.5″, lavender covers, 118 pages, $10 plus shipping.
We’re now in the fifth week of our pandemic book project. To recap, what we’re doing is producing a public domain, open-copyright, or bootleg edition we haven’t done before and don’t plan to do again in a short run each week, selling it for $10 +shipping, and after paying our costs sending whatever money is left over to an organization that serves vulnerable people in our city.
This week we are examining the social and political role of misinformation during a pandemic, and the terrible consequences, by reprinting a 2000s pamphlet, AIDS Conspiracy Theories by David Gilbert, with commentary by Albert “Nuh” Washington. The book investigates the nature and probable origin of conspiracy theories about HIV and AIDS, and the consequences of those theories namely poorer health outcomes and a higher death rate in Africa and among incarcerated Black people in the United States, and among vulnerable populations in general. Although by this time HIV had been conclusively established as the cause of AIDS, conspiracy theories persisted, often promoted by well-funded “fringe” groups like the Lyndon Larouche organization, with real consequences for public health.
We’re looking forward to an analysis of shadowy actors behind the current COVID-19 conspiracy theories, and the consequences of those theories, when one is published. Until then, there’s this.
We still have a few copies of books from some of the previous weeks of this project. We’re also experiencing the same mail delays as everyone else, but we’re doing our best to fill these orders and get them shipped as quickly as possible. Any small profit left over after shipping costs and supplies will be donated: so far we have made small donations to Carnegie Community Action Project, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, Downtown Eastside Womens Centre, and PACE Society. These aren’t big amounts, but this is a way for us to use artistic labour to help meet urgent needs in the community.
Softcover, 4.5×7″, 68 pages, manila cover, black page edge, $10 plus shipping.
This week’s short-run book is a facsimile of Saving the World from Democracy, a publication made by the joint Defense Committee of several labour organizations just one year after the brutal suppression of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. The book contains eyewitness accounts, court transcripts, speeches, and newspaper articles that retell the formation of a coalition of activists, rank and file workers, unemployed soldiers returning from the First World War, and others. Among their demands are many that resonate today.
This is the fourth week of this project, and we’re really happy with the response. We’re making short runs of books that are public domain, open copyright, public property, or possibly just bootlegs. These are books we haven’t made before and don’t plan to make again — once the run sells out, that’s it. Any money left over after paying our costs is going to one of several organizations serving vulnerable people on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. We have been pleased to send small amounts so far to Carnegie Community Action Project, Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House, and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.
Two notes this week: Canada Post is dealing with abnormally high volumes right now, so shipments are taking longer than normal. Don’t worry, books are on the way (some of last week’s have not been delivered yet). The second note is a content warning: a few of the speeches and newspaper articles quoted in the text of Saving the World from Democracy contain racist language or ideas. While it would perhaps be easy to excuse this by saying “those were different times”, it is important to remember that these words and ideas were part of, or an expression of, an explicitly racist set of social relations whose legacy is still evident today. Thankfully these instances in the book are few; in more than equal incidence the book critiques the xenophobic rhetoric employed against labour organizers and grassroots workers as “aliens”, although this critique is not extended to represent BIPOC workers.
Softcover, 5×8″, 280 pages, red cover, $10 plus shipping.
This week’s book is a collection of short prose by Tekahionwake, better known by her English name, E. Pauline Johnson. She is best known for her poetry, and for retelling and publishing a collection of Skwxwu7mesh stories as the book Tales of Vancouver. We have made copies of a 1913 edition of The Moccasin Maker, in burgundy covers, and with black edging.
Tekahionwake was born on the Six Nations reserve in Ontario to an English immigrant mother and Mohawk hereditary chief father. During her lifetime, in spite of frequent publications in Canadian and American magazines, she was arguably better known as a stage performer. Her performances often took place in two act that referenced the duality of her cultural heritage: a first act introducing herself as Tekhionwake (the name of her great-grandfather, who later took the English name Jacob Johnson), and a second act in the persona of a Victorian English woman. She died in Vancouver in 1913, and was buried in Stanley Park.
This week we will donate whatever money is left over after expenses to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. These aren’t huge amounts we’re sending these organizations, but hopefully it all helps. Last week we were able to send a donation to the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House to help their delivery of nutritious meals in the neighbourhood; the week before that we sent a small donation to the Carnegie Community Action Project. There are still a few copies available of last week’s book too! All of these books are very limited runs — once they’re gone, we don’t plan to make them again.
Softcover, 5×7.25″, 248 pages,burgundy cover with coloured page edges, $10 + shipping.
Last week we said we would be making a short run every week of a title we haven’t made before, and possibly won’t again. We have taken some ends of materials left over from other work to make this week’s selection, Fairy Tales from the French by the Comtesse de Ségur, a copy of an 1859 edition translated by Mrs. Coleman Chapman “and her Daughters”. The Comtesse de Ségur was the daughter of a Russian exile family, and part of the resurgent French aristocracy during France’s Restoration. This volume is a long cycle of episodic stories featuring the same characters, in particular the unfortunate Princess Blondine, who is deceived and manipulated by magicians and evil fairies, but helped and supported by other fairies and enchanted creatures.
This is a very short run with lovely slate-coloured covers. Any small profits from sales of this run of books will go to one of the organizations providing urgently-needed services to vulnerable people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Last week, we donated $30 to the Carnegie Community Action Project from the sales of Frescoes, etc.: Dramatic Sketches by Ouida.
Softcover, 300 pages, 4.5×6.5″, slate grey 80# covers.