Q&A: Ole Vezina, Dotted Publishing and WADEing Zine
By Brynn McNab
Ole Vezina, painter, current Vancouver Film School screenwriting student, special effects technician, and now independent publisher, founded Dotted Publishing, a Vancouver-based publisher of books, pamphlets, zines and extremities. For this interview, he sat down with Project Space to talk about DIY publishing, the relationship between image and text, and artist writers. In particular, we discussed his new poetry publication, WADEing.
PS: So far you’ve published three issues of WADEing. From what I’ve read of the zines, the idea behind it is an exploration of what can happen when artists write poetry. Am I right?
OV: Well, not really. I started a project called Dotted Publishing. WADEing magazine is like an auxiliary to Dotted in that it is a way to try out writers within the creative community so that there’s a structure for feedback. Then through feedback and through promotion I can start creating more of a brand idea with Dotted Publishing so that I can go forth and find a writer that I could publish, in a solo book form.
So I included only myself in the first publication, that was just to put myself out there, to say “this is me” and then the next one was mostly other people and then this most recent one is only other people. And that’s what I want to continue, to take myself further and further away from publishing my own writing and to start working with a community of writers. That’s really what the project is all about, creating and using a network. So WADEing is basically a little newsprint that is cheap and easily attained, but of a perceived value. With it, I can distribute and promote the writers with whom I hope to create a network.
PS: And you have found writers that you enjoy here?
OV: Yeah! My favourite writer I’ve met, Jesua, he moved to Montréal. He’s done a few pieces for VICE as well. He’s a really good writer who’s featured in both the second and the third issue. Personally, I’ve been getting more into language poetry and stream-of-consciousness work. I have been including a lot of grammar and parentheticals, which to me speaks more about structure, like using words as sculpture instead of a format for prose. And that also comes from me working with screenwriting, a format which generally assumes a structure of action, dialogue, action, dialogue. It has a format concerned with how you lay out words on a page in a structured way so that it’s more readable, and deconstructable. It creates an image; it is all about the inference. And that is kind of what it’s all about for me. It is all about the inference instead of creating a story.
PS: You seem to be toeing the line between a visual practice and a writing practice in a few different areas. Can you elaborate on what you see as the relationship between the two?
OV: To me writing is a very visual medium, and I find that, especially with screenwriting, it’s very literal. I’ll mention again that with screenwriting there is this very literal inference that it will be later interpreted in a visual medium. But you’re aware that you’re writing it that way and that is why I feel I’ve been able to transfer fluidly into visual arts. It’s a very direct relationship for me; It’s like I need to be able to move and create images in order to romanticize about images that I’m creating with words. Especially within painting. I’m painting more structured pieces, and I feel like I’m creating more structures and sculptures with words instead of creating stories. So it’s less about formal narrative and more about composition.
PS: So do you work within any narrative structure at all, or is it all about the visual structure?
OV: Well, there’s definitely a narrative to everything. My favourite poems usually have a narrative. One of the ones that I’ve been working on has been iterations of the same narrative but with a slightly different meaning or slightly different attitude or tone. I like playing with that as well. I think what I’ve been working on has been more thematic, a story that is based in theme, that pulls theme, rather than using narrative to tell a theme. And that’s why short stories and poetry have always worked better for me, it’s more about a quick image that says a thousand words, rather than the other way around.
PS: Any poets that have influenced you?
OV: E E Cummings has always been a huge influence for me. For instance, in his poems, you can read them in three ways. It has the view of the complete poem, and then the view of the poem in the regular text, and then the poem within the parentheticals.
PS: I often have to read his poems very quickly, and let the language sort of brush over me, and then go back in.
OV: Definitely. I usually dogear my favourite ones and then re-read those time and time again. All my books of poetry are just full of dogears. It’s what makes them valuable.
PS: So in terms of the book form, have you found that it is pretty successful as a way to distribution?
OV: I think it’s possibly the best medium to give away and distribute an idea. I definitely believe in hard copy print. I think that it needs to be free. Which is something that I’m working for and something that I want to structure around, to find a way to make it free. I think that there is also this secondary idea that knowledge and information should be free, there should be a way to make this stuff free. This is too expensive for me to sell, so I give it away. I lose money selling it for something like two bucks. So I’m really happy to be able to just give them away, and to just not make any money off of them. I guess that makes it a vanity project, but hard print is something that you go back to, whereas digital media tends to get lost, in time and riff and adaptation, and wherever the internet takes you.
I feel like that’s why we are so attached to things like vinyl records, it’s because they’re a collectable item. Even seeing the Kootenay School of Writing’s library, and they have all these different zines and chapbooks, from the 1980s when they were making stuff by themselves. And those things have had more of an effect on me than some of the larger books that I’ve read. It is more personal. It’s not accessible to such a wide scale, and it’s not so widely distributed that you’re afraid to do it yourself. That’s one of the biggest things I find about writers is that they’re almost afraid to put their work out there.
PS: What kind of work are you looking for to show in these zines?
I still want to concentrate it on poetry, even though I know that that’s a bit of a dream. I’m opening it up to any sort of writing, I just want to show things that I think are rad, in a medium that is more literary based. I want it to showcase writers, people who call themselves writers and identify primarily as writers, no matter what else they do. For instance in issue 3 there is this one piece, Pierce McGarry‘s stand-up comedy. I think it is funny, but I could also see something else coming out of it.
PS: Like a jumping off point?
OV: Yeah, I think that that is a strong part about a community network. I’d like to see peoples’ writing start to brush off on others. That’s the effect that I am trying to go for. So I’m very open right now to different sorts of submissions. It could be short stories, it could be poetry.
PS: And you did some comic books with Dotted Publishing as well, right?
OV: Yeah, those were all my own. I really just wanted to make some comic books. They each have their own genesis through dream, all narratives of dreams that I had. I did them all at work when I had nothing to do, because I really liked the idea of being paid to draw comics.
PS: They are very visual books, there is no text element to them at all.
OV: No, they are entirely a visual narrative. The more I think about it in relation to art, the comic books are a visual narrative in the same way that a series of paintings are a visual narrative. To me an exhibition should be a visual narrative, and should, as much as paintings can be different, should all be a part of a story. Which is what I realized after my first exhibition of paintings, each piece was sort of a different personality or character but I read them as a story in series.
PS: Do you edit any of the poetry submissions that you get?
OV: No, they appear exactly as they were submitted. I wanted to bring forward the aesthetic of the punk zines: self-made, self-published, this is what we’re about, take it or leave it. I wanted them to have that raw quality but also have a very contemporary look to it, which is how the risograph became the perfect machine. You have to simplify your design, and the ink rubs off, so it’s got this deterioration quality to it which I really liked. Nothing is perfect when its printed, and there are little discrepancies on every one. But they still look very aesthetically pleasing, with the colour.
I actually love the black, it’s almost like a speckled black, almost not there. That’s something I want to bring into a lot of my work. I want it to able to deteriorate, and be lost in time. Especially this. It’s not something that is supposed to be timeless. It’s supposed to be something that you can go back to, but at some point in time it will and should be invalidated, and you can just throw it away. Like last week’s news. It puts pressure on me to constantly change it, to move forward.
More information on Dotted Publishing including where to find the zine, and submission details is available at dotted-publishing.com
Images courtesy of Brynn McNab