20th Anniversary Author Spotlight Q&;A: Sandra Ridley | Book*hug Press

20th Anniversary Author Spotlight Q&;A: Sandra Ridley

Today’s 20th Anniversary Author Spotlight is on poet Sandra Ridley, author of The Counting House, Silvijaand Vixen, winner of the 2024 Pat Lowther Memorial Award.

B*: What does being part of the Book*hug author family mean to you?

SR: 15 years ago, I bumped into Jay and Hazel in a parking lot near the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair. I hadn’t published a book yet and I doubt I’d have even called myself a writer. I offered to help them carry their boxes of books into the venue. The two had an affable warmth and friendliness to me, a complete stranger. I was thrilled to grab a box from them, and to not need to walk alone into the room. Skip ahead to the fall of 2023, I bumped into Jay and Hazel in a parking lot in Toronto, a half hour before a fall book launch at the Tranzac Club. How incredible to come full circle, to be walking into a room with the two of them, with me carrying a box of books—this time my own. As a stranger or as one of their authors, they’ve always made me feel a part of their fold.

B*: Can you share another title from the Book*hug catalogue that has left a lasting impression on you as a reader?

SR: Here is Julie Joosten’s Light Light. I love this book for its intertwining of philosophy, history and botany; for its unearthing of the work of female scientists; for its examination of ‘empires’; for its attention to ways of seeing; and for its shapeshifting poetic forms. I love this collection for how it cross-pollinates an understanding of technology, ecology, and language. And I love this work for how it invites me to reconsider how we come to know what we know, both within ourselves and of our ever changing and changed natural world.

B*: When we see more large publisher consolidations and huge conglomerates dominating the marketplace, what does it mean to you to be published by an independent publisher like Book*hug Press?

SR: Conglomerates seem to have their roads paved for commercial interest and production. Fewer people are making decisions about what gets published. In a way, oligopolies seem less about freedom and more about ‘on trend’ market control. There is the rare flower that pushes up through the crack in asphalt, but what life flourishes there? In counterpoint, I feel Book*hug recognizes the importance of a vital and diverse literary ecosystem, and that the wild has power. As an independent publisher of work that is bold, challenging and innovative, Book*hug encourages richness and resilience. They have nourished risk, and that’s where possibility and creativity thrive.

Stay tuned for more 20th Anniversary Author Spotlight interviews to come!


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