Gordon Hill Press
Our titles cover a wide range of styles and approaches, but they’re all exemplary in their craft. You won’t ever pick one up and feel as though we’ve sacrificed the quality of writing in the name of getting a story told.
Jeremy Luke, you launched Gordon Hill Press in 2019. Can you give us some insight into how the press has grown since then?
The press grew up pretty quickly in some ways. Our very first book, Roxanna Bennett’s Unmeaningable, won the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, and many of our subsequent books have also won or been nominated for awards, including a Governor General’s Award shortlist. So, with respect to critical reception, we had to act like grown ups almost from the start.
In other ways, growth has necessarily been slower and more incremental. It takes time for readers and authors and festivals and trade shows to find out about a new press. It takes time to become eligible for industry organizations and grants and government programs. And most of our time in operation has been right in the middle of Covid, so that obviously complicated our growth in some of those areas as well.
In still other ways, we’re content not to do much growing. We don’t want to publish more than 6 or 8 titles a year, because we want to give our titles really close attention, to provide accommodation for the invisibly disabled authors who we emphasize, and to make beautiful books – to make the best books we can.
What type of reader would enjoy Gordon Hill Press books?
The type of people who would enjoy our books are those who are interested in good writing. Our titles cover a wide range of styles and approaches, but they’re all exemplary in their craft. You won’t ever pick one up and feel as though we’ve sacrificed the quality of writing in the name of getting a story told, however interesting that story might be, or in the name of addressing an issue, however important that issue might be. Our editor, Shane Neilson, works very hard to ensure that every book we publish is excellently written before anything else.
Can you highlight some of the books you’re excited to publish in 2023?
Oh, man. All of them.
- Benjamin C. Dugdale’s The Repoetic: After Saint-Pol-Roux is a wild and wonderful poetic pseudotranslation of French Symbolist Saint-Pol-Roux’s La Repoetique.
- Jeffery Donaldson’s Momento: On Standing in Front of Art is a curious and innovative non-fiction exploration of gallery going.
- Emily Osborne ‘s Safety Razor combines personal lyric poetry with translations from Old Norse.
- Jennifer Bowering Delisle’s Micrographia is a collection of lyric essays on questions of family, like infertility, degenerative neurological disease, and medically-assisted death.
- Spenser Smith’s A Brief Relief from Hunger is an irreverent yet deeply human collection of poetry on cocaine, human connection, and fast food.
- And last but definitely not least is Roxanna Bennett’s Uncomfortability, the follow up to the two multiply award winning poetry collections Roxanna has already published through Gordon Hill Press.
You’re also the founder of Guelph’s Vocamus Writers Community and Vocamus Press (a local-centric micro-publisher that specializes in Guelph literature). It’s no secret you’re a bit of a local legend of the arts and culture scene! What drives you to invest your energy and expertise in supporting local writers?
I believe, before anything else, in community. Whatever moral compass drives us, whatever brand of religion, humanism, or philosophy, its truth is always revealed in how it treats others – family and friends and neighbours, certainly, but also the stranger, especially those who are impoverished or ill, broken or oppressed. So, it isn’t local writers that I support. It’s local people. I just happen to do it through writing, because writing is one of the things I love. I believe that this is what being human in the world asks of everyone – it asks us to love each other, to build relationship and community through all the everyday things we do. In my case, that’s often writing, but it could be almost anything, so long as it’s done in love.
What is your vision for the future of Gordon Hill Press?
My vision for the press is that we would always be getting better at what we do, and I oppose this very explicitly with getting bigger. I don’t want us to grow in the sense of increasing in size. I want us to grow in the sense of increasing in quality and maturity. I want our books to always be the best we can make them, and then to be still better the next time. I’m so pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish so far, but I also see the errors and shortfalls in what we’ve done (some of them quite silly), and I want always to be improving on what we do.