For most HPB Bibliomaniacs, books are a way of life. And for Greg, that extends to printing, publishing and promoting the literacy scene in Lexington, KY. In this edition of Meet the Bibliomaniac, Greg shares more about his non-profit work, engaging with the community and some of his bookish favorites.
When did you join the team?
October of 2002 at HPB Olathe, Kansas
What is your favorite part about working at HPB?
I like the “what’s next” philosophy of our bookstores. There is always something new to try or old to change. I like seeing how different people and personalities approach the same problem and manage to come out with often very different, but sufficient results. If you want something to change, or if you want to try something new, it has been my experience that the opportunity is there as long as you do your homework.
What are you reading right now?
On and off I am reading like 10 books… the one I have committed the most time to is City Poet by Brad Gooch. It’s about Frank O’Hara’s life.
What is your all-time favorite book, movie or album?
For me, this question is really hard. I don’t think I have settled on my “all-time favorite” anything because there are always new things to read, watch or listen to. If we freeze time and I had to pick right this instant, I would say my favorite book is City of Darkness: Life in Kowloon Walled City by Greg Girard. My favorite movie is The Normal Heart and my favorite album is No Shape by Perfume Genius. But these will change by the time you publish this.
If you could write a book about yourself, what would the title be?
I have no desire to ever write a book; however, I would love to make them for people who are better writers and who have better ideas than I do.
What TV show/movie are you embarrassed to admit you love?
Honestly, I don’t have one. I don’t think that anyone should feel embarrassed by the art they enjoy.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t like nature unless it involves an ocean.
You’re pretty engaged in the Lexington art community. How did you get involved with The Parachute Factory non-profit?
I joined the Lexington Guild of Printmakers back in 2014 or so, and one of my jobs was to find us galleries in town to show our work. Before it was the Parachute Factory this building was just storage for a local store that sells Kentucky memorabilia, so we asked if we could use the space. Our first show was a success, so they allowed us to set up in there and program the space monthly. The space needed a lot of work, so three of my friends and I decided to take it on, file for the non-profit and turn it into a gallery and community space. One great thing about the space (and honestly, the website explains this part better than I can off-hand) is that it is not just for art shows. It is a community space that is free and open to the public. Every event we have is free, and if anyone wants to use the space, it is free to use if we have time on our calendar.
Tell us more about Rabbit Catastrophe Press. How did you get involved in printing and publishing?
In 2008, my wife and I dabbled in making chapbooks for our poet friends and I kind of got into it. In 2010, when we moved to Kentucky I put a lot of focus on learning the craft of perfect binding (think paperback with glued binding) and eventually non-adhesive (sewn) binding, and we have slowly worked towards not only making the books by hand but printing them by hand as well. We are not 100% there yet, but we’re working on it. Lexington has a vibrant writing and art scene, and after I got to know a bunch of people, this thing started happening where people would give you access to a press if you asked. They were so welcoming. I started teaching myself how to make linoleum relief prints and how to use silkscreen.
In the summer of 2015 I spent some time at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina learning bookbinding, and through that, I met a woman who would later sell me basically the contents of a print shop for a reasonable price. So now I am working on refurbishing a Chandler and Price 8×12 Old Style Press so that we can focus our efforts on getting out of digitally printing our books. In addition to that, since we started, we have put out 13 issues of our review of poetry, fiction and art.
We’ve published seven different Chapbooks and a handful of broadsides and printed ephemera. The authors we have worked with are from all over the world. We have started two contests: 1. The Real Good Poem Prize. This prize is kind of like it sounds, but the poet who is selected wins $1000 and 50 hand-printed broadsides of their piece. 2. The Girls Like Us Chapbook contest for women, trans women, genderqueer, nonbinary and female-identifying writers. The winner receives $1000, Chapbook publication, 50 author copies of the book and 25 limited edition broadsides of a selected poem from the work.