Colorado State University Center for Literary Publishing

Fonograf Editions: Adding What’s Missing

May 03, 2016

by Cory Cotten-Potter, Colorado Review Editorial Assistant

Here’s the thing: I still think of writing as physical, the written word being just that, written. Reading words on the page and creating meaning is a strange act, an attempt to connect to places and people I’ll never see, people and places that I, as the reader, ultimately construct through a complex connection to an author, who is removed from this process and may have intended to create different tiny explosions in my brain from the ones I’m creating for myself. However, I’m starting to see things differently; words are becoming more metaphysical.

Okay, I should probably mention that when I say “metaphysical” I’m talking about sound. There’s something missing from written prose and poetry. (I know, huge claim, but give me the chance to qualify it.) You can’t hear all the subtly to the language if you don’t read it out loud. The characters in my head sound different when I let them out of the box. And this is why I love readings. (Not to mention the Colorado Review podcast series–here’s the latest episode.) But they also make me kind of sad: there are a lot of amazing writers out there, and odds are I’ll never get the opportunity to hear most of them read, to hear voices and spaces the way the author hears them. So, wouldn’t it be nifty if there were a small press that started churning out recordings of authors reading their own work, two to three times a year, and in a medium as cool as vinyl?

Yes, it would be. And we’re lucky because Fonograf Editions, the vinyl record-only arm of Octopus Books has done just that. Established in 2016, it’s a relatively new venture, and an exciting one. They’ve got the first record out, a live recording of Eileen Myles’s “Aloha/Irish Trees,” with sample clips available on their website via SoundCloud. Who knows where this is heading? I sure don’t, but the idea is a solid one. And I’m excited to watch and see.

 

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