So what was the actual 'process' for selecting poems for the chapbook? Did you go through an elimination process in any way?
The process was quite friendly, as we (the authors) all knew each other in varying degrees and ways even before the idea for the four-way chapbook was conceived. Three of us (James, Ryan, and myself) have lived together in a house that hosts diy music and readings in Columbus, Ohio called Monster House. I've known Jordan since he was 15, maybe 14. For Assuming Size, I decided to act as ad hoc editor and had everyone email me the poems they wanted in the chapbook. If something seemed superfluous or off with a poem I would have emailed them back and offered suggestions about changing it, if I thought it was worth keeping, or told them straight up if it lacked the necessary togetherness with the rest of the book. I also went into the process aware of the inherent stylistic and aesthetic differences of our writing and realized our poems would (necessarily) push against each other, create a curious tension. My hope was that perhaps this tension, that difference manifested by putting them next to each other in a single book might urge the reader to see difference as singularity, to note connection, and not simply dissimilarity.
Were there any interesting challenges/problems/benefits to producing a four-way chapbook as opposed to one per author?
Mostly benefits. It was a very quick process. I already knew everyone's style to a certain degree and could expect at least a little bit about how the book would flow. Ryan and James thought of doing a fourway book to showcase, together, our writing in August while on a music tour. They came home and told me about the idea and I emailed Jordan and he was into it. From there, we pretty much all had poems ready for the book, and I merely had to organize, edit, & design the book, which took about two months. The last week of October is when it came out.
Where does the name Assuming Size come from? Who coined it?
I chose to name the chapbook Assuming Size. Not totally sure how I coined it. I was in what I call "naming mode" when I thought of it. It is a process I developed when I was maybe 15 or 16 and began playing in bands and writing songs and needing to name songs. I think it's also just a process people use every day, too. Mostly the process consists of me zoning out, focusing intensely hard and then not hard; thinking only about the thing I am trying to name, and then not thinking about it, but also thinking about it in a way like the thing you are thinking of is still being thought of, probably in your unconscious, and then the names just present themselves. To sound less pretentious, it's just mainly me sitting in a chair staring at nothing and something at the same time. I emailed Jordan Castro possible titles and he liked Assuming Size. Other potential titles were Ineffable Everyone & Topologies. I chose Assuming Size for reasons associated with what I thought was a major motif in the book. I liked the multivalent-ness of the title, too, that assuming could mean supposing, adopting, acquiring, commandeering, etc. It was vague enough, and just slightly specific enough to not be lost to cliche or to be considered esoteric.
Was there a particular rhyme or reason to the layout of the work in the book?
I read everyone's poems together, laid them out in different ways and orders, and the order in the book is the one I found most fitting. I am unsure totally what caused me to choose the order in this way; I am only able to say that after looking and reading the poems for an hour several different times in multiple orders this layout seemed to go through my chronological filter easiest and the most pleasantly. It's difficult to explain—I just kind of know what I think is right and go with it. Call it intuition or a learned set of arbitrary algorithms. It just feels correct, somehow, to me.
What are your favorite pieces in the book? Were there any you wanted to include but had to/chose to omit? If you had to pick one piece that, starting over, you wouldn't include, which would it be?
I like each and every poem in the collection. The standouts for me, if I have to choose, would be Jame's poem "Arthur danto" and Ryan's "War (explained)." Both are playful and funny and endearing in complex and interesting ways. They are "alive" to me. They are what I like about poetry: its ability to be there after and during the moment, to act as space for the things that could not happen or be said to happen or be said. Jame's poem in particular is very on with the title of the book—it has that understanding of the feeling of smallness that accompanies (possibly) where we are from and how we were raised. It's spot on. I like Jordan's poems for different reasons—for their staticness, their calm demeanor and almost scientific, instructional feeling. I would not change anything about the chapbook if I could.
Any upcoming projects on your part? Anything that the other authors are doing? [Readings/Shows/Etc?] Should we expect more from Monster House Press in the future?
Assuming Size was the first release from Monster House Press, which I founded to release this book. I'm going to publish more chapbooks through it. Just a small, yet dedicated, affair. Josh Kleinberg is on deck to be the next release on MHP, hopefully sometime in February. All the authors usually are working on some project or another and that information can be found at their blogs listed below:
Richard Wehrenberg, Jr.
For more information on Assuming Size click [here]. Purchase a copy today!
Richard Wehrenberg, Jr.is the co-founder of the cooperatively run publishing house, Monster House Press as well as the co-author of two chapbooks of poetry, think tank for human beings in general and Assuming Size. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.