This is the first in a series of profiles of the independent publishers who will be appearing at the Writers Block Party - Meet the Presses panel discussion and networking event on Saturday, August 11, 1 - 4 p.m., at the Gail Borden Public Library. The event is co-sponsored by the Chicago Writers Association, In Print, and Author! Author! Book & Author Marketing Network. Register to attend through Eventbrite at http://writersblockparty.eventbrite.com/. Tickets are free but space is limited.
By Eleanore Catolico
Victor David Giron is the man behind the hip hang out Beauty Bar. He also happens to act as publisher and editor-in-chief of Curbside Splendor, located in Logan Square. Conceived on the Urbana-Champaign campus in the mid-90s, Giron came up with “Curbside Splendor” during a brainstorming session for band names. Though his rock star dreams quickly demised, the name “Curbside Splendor” would stick in his mind. Not until much later would Giron conjure up the Curbside moniker for his publishing project.
Initially, Giron created Curbside in order to publish his first book Sophomoric Philosophy. When he discovered that sending a manuscript to a major publishing house was like throwing a stone into an abyss, Giron decided to go the DIY route and self-publish. He would immerse himself in Chicago’s community of independent publishers and presses, deriving inspiration from the likes of Green Lantern Press and Rose Metal Press to create art objects, not just books.
Established in the fall of 2009, Curbside seeks out literary fiction, poetry and art about the contemporary urban (sometimes suburban) landscape. Curbside expanded its production into online territory with the inception of the bi-monthly E-Zine Curbside Journal, which accepts fiction, poetry, and photography/art submissions. Curbside also runs Another Chicago Magazine, which showcases fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. This publication has been around for thirty-five years and remains a cornerstone in the Chicago literary community. If interested in Another Chicago Magazine’s submissions process, see the guidelines on their website. With Chicago-based literary group Two with Water, Curbside hosts a bi-monthly reading series at Beauty Bar on the second Sunday every other month.
Curbside’s publication process is two-fold. To submit to Curbside Journal, you must send your work electronically through their Submissions Manager. No other form will be considered. To submit a manuscript for publication, you must first send a one- to two-page query letter detailing who you are, a synopsis of your finished work, and why you think Curbside would be the right fit for you to email@example.com
When Curbside finds work they want to support, Giron ensures total guidance for the author in the publishing process.
When Curbside finds work they want to support, Giron ensures total guidance for the author in the publishing process. By forging strong relationships between publisher and author, and later on, artist, Curbside publishes visually stimulating texts that engage and challenge us. In Giron’s eyes, that is the core of his independent press, making gorgeous-looking books that can be shared and enjoyed by everyone.
Curbside’s encouragement of the writer-artist collaboration is key. Take a look at the book covers of James Greer’s Everything Flows or Amber Sparks’s May We Shed These Human Bodies. Each has a sleek, modern design aesthetic that seduces the eye. The design, feel of the cover art and its overall effect is the first yet crucial element that the author must contemplate, while the artist clarifies that vision into completion. Since Curbside does not have a huge marketing or distribution network, it is up to the author to self-promote his/her book and make the pages desirable to the urban reader. An attractive book to boot only helps.
Another foray into the writer/artist teaming is Curbside’s collection of readings videos, or cinematic shorts incorporating the author’s reading from his/her work, and fusing that audio with image and music. Highlights of this collection include “Some Things That Are Not Metaphors” by James Tadd, “Close, Personal Friend” by Christine Sneed, and “What I Tried to Do” by poet Luis Humberto Valadez. These collaborations between writer and artist are truly unique to Curbside and rises above expectations of what books can be.
An upcoming project for Curbside is Concepcion Books, an imprint that focuses on romantic poetry and will be available in both English and Spanish editions. This publishing endeavor is nostalgic and personal. Growing up, Giron’s mother loved reading romantic Latin poetry, which would eventually shape Giron’s own love for literature. Most of all, Giron’s continued passion for Curbside Splendor stems from genuinely loving publishing and the opportunities it opens up for talented writers around Chicago.