UWindsor Editing & Publishing Practicum Gears Up for Poetry Book Launch on April 6
As part of UWindsor’s Editing & Publishing Practicum, a team of 22 students has been hard at work since September editing and marketing two poetry books: Terry Ann Carter’s First I Fold the Mountain: A Love Letter to Books and Christopher Lawrence Menard’s at the end, beginnings. A Memoir in Poems. Both books will be officially launched on April 6 during a poetry event at the KordaZone theater aptly entitled Beginnings: A Night of Poetry.
A Rundown of the Editing & Publishing Practicum
In the Editing Practicum (ENGL-4003) and Publishing Practicum (ENGL-4004) at UWindsor, students have a rare opportunity to get hands-on experience in the world of publishing. These two courses form a seven-month-long internship, where students work for Black Moss Press, one of Canada’s oldest publishing houses, to edit, design, and market one or two books.
Taught by award-winning poet, historian, journalist, photographer, professor, and publisher of Black Moss Press Dr. Marty Gervais, the Editing & Publishing Practicum is the only course of its kind in Canada. “Other courses like this are strictly structured on a theoretical basis,” explained Dr. Gervais, “but ours is the only one where students work with a publishing firm and actually publish a book.”
What It’s Like Being Part of the Practicum
This year, the practicum students were divided into two groups, each assigned to work on one book. One group worked on Terry Ann Carter’s First I Fold the Mountain, while the other worked on Christopher Lawrence Menard’s at the end, beginnings.
Serafina Piasentin, a second-year student majoring in English Literature and Creative Writing, was part of the team that worked on First I Fold the Mountain. More specifically, she was a copy editor in the Editing Practicum and a cover designer in the Publishing Practicum. Both the subtitle she proposed and the draft of the cover that she created were chosen for the final copy of Carter’s book.
“As a copy editor, it was my job to read the manuscript thoroughly and edit grammatical errors, incorrect references, and organize the poems and poem sections,” she said. “At this point, this book lives rent-free in my head,” she additionally quipped.
To Serafina, the practicum has been a deeply illuminating and fulfilling experience, although it has had its challenges. “Think of it like climbing a mountain. You have to toil to reach the summit. Publishing a book is similar,” she explained.
One challenge, for example, was finding a way to communicate, entirely online, the hundreds of edits that she and the other members of the bookbinders’ team made to Carter’s manuscript. After all, the author lives in BC, making the editing process more challenging.
“When I was a copy editor, I didn’t expect how difficult it would be to sell my edits to the author,” she said. “Sydney Bertrand, the other copy editor, and I initially made hundreds of comments on the manuscript, mainly compliments and notes. Terry Ann was overwhelmed by these at first, but we found a way to work around this. We narrowed down our edits to the most important ones and met with Terry Ann on Zoom to verbally discuss why we felt this was the right path to take. Terry Ann was very easy to talk to and she liked most of our edits.”
Another hurdle Serafina grappled with was suggesting edits to poems that discussed sensitive topics, like loss and grief. “Sydney and I had to tread carefully so as not to stir up heavy emotions, and this made it difficult to edit this section,” she said. “Yet, by understanding Terry Ann as a person first and an author second, we were able to work around this block.”
“Overall, this process has taught me how to work through creative differences, how to speak to an author, how to work within deadlines, and how to enjoy the journey and the destination.”
Christian Pacheco, a fifth-year student majoring in English and Philosophy, had a very different role in the practicum. He was part of the Event Planning and Presentation team. This means that he got to be part of both the First I Fold the Mountain team and the at the end, beginnings team.
Members of the Event Planning and Presentation team have several duties, as Christian explained.
“We put together all the necessary elements for the launch,” he began. “Some of my responsibilities were planning and securing the catering for the event and speaking to potential guest speakers and inviting them to the event. I am one of two hosts for the event and I’m in charge of writing the event script, while also having a small role in a venue announcement video for our social media pages.”
Christian’s experiences in the practicum have taught him to “always expect the unexpected”. He is especially proud of the “unique spin” he and the rest of the Event Planning team have given to the upcoming book launch. He is also grateful to have had the opportunity to get an “inside look at working for a publishing firm”.
Both Christopher Lawrence Menard, author of at the end, beginnings, and Terry Ann Carter, author of First I Fold the Mountain, expressed their appreciation for the students who worked on their books.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the students in this course,” said Carter. “They have worked so hard to make First I Fold the Mountain the best possible book.”
Menard mirrored these sentiments, saying: “The students assigned to my book brought support, strength, commitment and dedication to the entire process.”
“They figured out which poems made the final collection and which ones were cut, they suggested how to arrange them to tell the strongest and most impactful story, they found their way through the motifs and themes and offered suggestions on where and how we could bring those into even crisper clarity, and they helped arrive at the structure of the book and the five sections this story is told in. They sifted through countless images from my life to find those that would most resonate with readers and audiences. They designed and produced a well-rounded social media campaign that has for months now been growing a wide and diverse audience of folks who are eager to read the book. And now they’re knee-deep in planning the launch. This has felt and continues to feel, like a collaboration, and each one of us has been integral to the final outcome.”
A Sneak Peek at the Books
After seven hard months of work, the practicum students will soon get to show off the books they helped publish. But what are the books about?
Terry Ann Carter’s First I Fold the Mountain is a collection of autobiographical poems on a wide variety of themes from loss and grief to youth. Carter, a poet and paper artist based in Victoria, BC, is especially well-known for her work in haiku. She uses her love of books and paper arts in First I Fold the Mountain to express her thoughts and feelings on her life experiences.
“It’s my love letter to books, handmade books especially since I am a paper artist and design many artist’s books,” she explained. “There are poems about my own experiences in life, but seen through the lens of a book designer.”
One of the paper art forms explored in the collection is the dos-à-dos book. In French, this term means ‘back to back’. As Carter explained: “The dos-à-dos book is originally French and contained love letters. The book has one spine but two separate parts, with one for each lover. My dos-à-dos book contains poems from a husband and wife and deals with illness.”
Another art form Carter uses to explore her life experiences in the collection is tanka, an originally Japanese form of poetry featuring 31 syllables, usually written in one unbroken line. According to Carter, First I Fold the Mountain includes “a scroll book with tanka written in the voice of Ono no Komachi, a female Japanese poet of the Heian Court”.
Christopher Lawrence Menard’s at the end, beginnings is about family, fatherhood, and grief. A Windsor-based writer, actor, producer, director, and singer with a prolific career writing for the stage and the screen, this will be Menard’s first-ever poetry book.
The author revealed that he wrote most of the collection in the weeks following the death of his father, who had spent two decades battling a variety of illnesses. The death of his father coincided with the adoption of his son, leading him to reflect on the theme of family.
“Four years before my father’s death, my husband and I adopted our son,” he said. “These two life-changing stories—the decline and death of my father, and the building of my own family through the adoption of my son—form the foundation, heart, and soul of this deeply personal collection.”
Dr. Gervais provided his endorsement of both authors’ works. “These are two very important books,” he said.
“Terry Ann Carter is a well-known writer of haiku and paper artist, and she has written a ‘love letter to books’, an account that tackles issues surrounding language and art, growing old, embracing the surprises that life offers at every corner. Christopher Lawrence Menard’s story is that of fatherhood, what it’s like to be a son, to be a father, and to see one’s own father shape the way one sees the world. It’s about what it’s like to see that mentor pass away, but never be forgotten.”
You can get free tickets to attend Beginnings: A Night of Poetry on April 6 here.
First I Fold the Mountain: A Love Letter to Books
- Pre-order First I Fold the Mountain: A Love Letter to Books here.
- Follow the First I Fold the Mountain team on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
- Check out author Terry Ann Carter’s website here.
at the end, beginnings. A Memoir in Poems