After Hours Ltd: New Chapbook Collection at NYPL
The New York Public Library recently acquired the chapbook series After Hours Ltd. These chapbooks were collected as part of an ongoing effort to provide our patrons with the opportunity to discover a thriving literary community outside big publishing houses.
Locally published, After Hours Ltd is designed and curated by poet Eric Amlings. We reached out to Eric to get some more information about the series, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
What is After Hours Ltd?
At the moment, After Hours Ltd is a chapbook series that I design and curate. With one more title forthcoming, the intended series of 8 will come to a close, but going forward I’d like to think of it as a studio moniker to design and publish under in whatever format that may be. As an ethos, After Hours Ltd is the midnight oil, so to speak, when you move from one desk to another, a pleasure pursuit with better lighting.
What inspired you to start After Hours Ltd?
I’m always attracted to the concept of a series, particularly in design, and with the occasional work publishers have commissioned from me I was inspired to try and execute something I had full control over, not only conceptually, but as a challenge to myself. But most importantly, something the authors in the series want to be a part of.
Why does your press focus on chapbooks? What is it about chapbooks?
There is a seduction in limited edition; and that seduction should be worthwhile. A chapbook is intimate. It is an introduction to an author that can become a lifelong affair. That being said, in more practical terms, I’m one person with a credit card limit, and publishing costs money. Maybe After Hours Ltd will pursue larger projects in the future.
How do you find the work that you publish? Why do you choose what you do?
Out of the gate I had some writers in mind I wanted to work with. Work that, of course, was important to me, but also by authors that either hadn’t had their writing collected in this format before, or weren’t the usual names I see appearing in a series. Many titles in the series are by writers living outside of the United States. I’m very fortunate to have had their trust in handling their work – and hearing readers’ responses, I couldn’t be happier the series has been successful in that way.
Can you choose a favorite poem from work that you've published?
Randomly, I'd like to pick a line or two from each title:
Wendy Lotterman, Intense Holiday, 'You go blond in front of a hardwood McDonalds'
Laura A. Warman, The Cave The Basement The Church The Bedroom The Mall, 'the mall is / the gayest / place built / on the / backs of / laborers'
Aurelia Guo, 2016, 'Dissembling was my full time job; being ashamed was my hobby'
Daniel Feinberg, Flowers & Drinks, ‘The only truth / is poverty / everything else / is lush / hibiscus / acid / trips.’
Galina Rymbu, White Bread, 'Even if women piss on all the cathedrals / and men fuck themselves with a machine gun / there will be death there will be sex there will be poetry’
Erica Lewis, Teak , 'i cannot reimagine our lives / the parts we once abandoned / drinking orange crush / straight / from the bottle'
Sam Riviere, True Colours, 'Either one is an intrepid angel wielding fairness like it's vengeance / Or of the bottom-feeder click-bait class wasting water and calories'
Tell us about the process of designing the books. How do you make your cover choices? How do the covers relate to the work?
It’s an all marble template; ‘abstract’ image made of marble on the front, title and author on the back. Melt it, invert it, bend it. I’m a maniac in a malleable pantheon. I enjoy the chance to manipulate marble in response to the text. These are loose interpretations of course, and you can witness me discovering all the functions capable in Photoshop. I guess in that way the covers are a collaborative experience with the author.
Give us some hints about what’s next.
The final chapbook is by the transcendent poet, Elaine Kahn. If you are not yet familiar with her work I’ll just say stanza by stanza, the pause and breaks between are purgatories where either the angel or devil on your shoulders will show up– and you’re never sure which it’ll be.
We are thrilled to bring this series to our patrons and we hope, as Eric suggests, that these chapbooks begin your “lifelong affair” with the participating poets. Below, you’ll find links to other publications in our collection by After Hour Ltd authors.
And if you are curious about Eric Amlings’ poetry, you can access his book, From the Author’s Private Collection, in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building’s Rose Main Reading Room.
This post was co-created with Miriam Gianni, General Research Division, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building