Whether it’s for my a misFit book imprint, or any other ECW title I acquire, I look for smart, culturally engaged writing that takes risks, pushes limits, colours way outside the lines. The poetry and fiction I read and want to publish typically kicks convention and genre and everything in between to the curb—but never does so at the expense of a damn good story or a great poetic line. Lately, I’ve come to think that rhyme is most cutting-edge language assignment a poet can choose to accept. There’s still as much room for August Kleinzahler and Lisa Roberston as there is for Phyllis Webb and Thom Gunn on my bookshelf. I love powerful, epic novels and simple precise tales: the Amises (Martin and his dad) will always make me laugh, uncomfortably and in a good way; Hemingway will always make me think he always wrote near-perfect sentences; Barbara Gowdy still makes me wish I’d published everything she’s ever written; and when I meet folks from other countries Dionne Brand is always the Canadian writer I tell them they must read.
If we’re talking non-fiction, I’m proud of being responsible for most of ECW’s fight-sports-related and hockey books. Whether it’s Canada’s game or pro-wrestling, I’m looking for well-researched, clear, informative and thought-provoking books that give the reader new insight while discovering or uncovering the way things work. I’m also responsible for a number of ECW’s music-related titles. My playlists tend to run a gamut that starts somewhere near either Black Sabbath, Cab Calloway, Curtis Mayfield, Warren Zevon or Johnny Cash, moves through the Clash, Richard Hell, the Minutemen, Bad Brains and Suicidal Tendencies, spends quality time with Dre, Ice Cube and Kendrick Lamar, and always returns home to Metallica, Bad Religion, Django Reinhardt, Neil Young and the Tragically Hip. Go figure: I like books about where music comes from and how artists get to where they are.