Thursday, June 07, 2007


Baksheesh is a "fair trade" retailer which just opened up a store on St. Helena's Main Street. By fair trade, I point you to Baksheesh's position:
We are committed to trading fairly with artisans in the developing world.
We are affiliated with fair trade organizations that guarantee fair wages to artisans for their work.
Fair pay for Third World artisans, good value for you, great gifts for your friends.

And so I was purrrred to discover a line of perfect-bound, blank mini-books, sized about 1 3/4 X 1 3/4". Each book contains nearly 100 pages. I bought out their stock and asked to re-order more. It just seems like it's an inexpensive way to produce a limited edition publication because each book costs $1.50 each, versus, say, the $6.00 per chap cost required by THE SINGER And Others. The books are made in Guatemala and, indeed, the front and back covers are wrapped in Guatemalan textile.

I recall buying blank mini-books of about the same size (not made in Guatemala) from the museum store of the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art last year. Each was prized at $3.95, making Baksheesh's version a bargain (and with having a woven cloth versus thickened paper cover).

U.S.1.50 is about 11.69463 Guatemalan Quetzal (GTQ), I'm not really sure what 11.7 GTQ is worth within Guatemala, but I'm trusting that such reflects a fair wage, even as it offers a bargain to a U.S. dollar buyer due to currency conversion. (And if you think this doesn't reflect a fair wage for some reason, email me).

Conceptually, though, it pleases me to find a way to support fair trade by publishing poetry publications. That I, as a poetry publisher, can increase demand for the products of artisans in developing countries. A non-metaphorical way of manifesting how Poetry feeds the world.

So now I'm figuring out what to "publish" through these mini books. Given the less than 2-inch size of the pages, a hay(na)ku option comes to mind. But I'm open to other alternatives...if only to challenge moi head to come up with something beyond the obvious short poem approach...

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