Cats and Spaghetti Press started out as me and Pip Adam talking again and again at literary events around the city how we wished there was more variety in the type of publishing taking place in Wellington. We love poetry and short fiction and weird things, and wanted to see more of that out in the world. After lots of discussion and work and back and forth, we released our first two projects in 2014.
The first was Pen Pal by Sugar Magnolia Wilson a small poem made into an illustrated pamphlet. We gave this away for free at the launch and only made 100 copies! This was a pretty delightful project from start to finish. Having the poem as a standalone piece really allowed it to breathe and get room it wouldn’t if it was part of a larger collection. It was also exceptionally fun at the launch to tell people it was free. The looks of disbelief were well worth it. We didn’t skimp on production values so it was a genuinely beautiful thing in of itself. There was a great deal of demand for the work and it was though it was a confusing way of getting it out there we got a lot of good feedback and even a review in Landfall. We hope the lucky 100 people who got their paws on it love it as much as we do.
Later in the year we released Rejectamenta, a journal of work that had previously been rejected alongside its rejection letter. Some of the rejection letters were made up as many writers don’t even receive rejections for their work. Some of those made up rejections letters received the strongest responses out in the world. Though one or two of the real rejection letters have to be read to be believed. With this project we were really trying to have a bit of a laugh about how sometimes writing can feel very hard, especially around rejection. That process of toughening yourself up to rejection can take years and even then sometimes it still stings. You can take a look at all the previously rejected work here.
This year we’re onto poster poems. We paired up five writers with five designers, artists or illustrators. One of them, Julie Jeon, has been our designer from the start. We love working with Julie. We paired her up with Chris Tse on this project. Together the pairings produced an A3 poster. I mostly lead this project and I really didn’t have much editorial control at all except for selecting the pairings. Even then some of the pairs came as done deals. I’m super happy to trust people’s instincts about who they want to work with. I was really keen to focus on voices and pairings that weren’t necessarily heard in mainstream New Zealand publishing that often. I wanted a mix of backgrounds and ideas that weren’t just straight, white and middle class. Other than that, I let them go to see where they would end up. The posters are very different from each other, and I hope that means there’s something that everyone will like. If you’d like to know more take a look at our Pledge Me campaign to fund the project.
Photo of Emma Barnes by Russell Kleyn