A conversation with Anne Markham Bailey, publisher of Green Bucket Press.
In our focus on local publishers and presses, Alina Stefanescu chatted with Anne Markham Bailey of Green Bucket Press on her journey into poetry and publishing.
You are the publisher of Irondale’s very own Green Bucket Press. What prompted you to start a small press and how did it happen?
After I finished my BA in at Barnard College in New York, I cast about considering options and my allegiance to living as a poet. I went through the Book Arts program at the University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, with a concentration on bookbinding. I worked in the field of commercial printing for years. A couple of years ago, I wanted to work on a book project, and it made more sense to just start a press, because of my particular skill set.
What is Green Bucket Press currently publishing?
We are currently publishing a variety of books, including our special VoiceBooks, which are blank writing journals; my own poem, Nancy Marguerite’s Chopin; Voices of Resistance, an anthology of poems from Birmingham’s Sister City Connection; the Labyrinth Meditation journals; various features on the Sacred Path Series. Currently in the works, we have Innovate: VoiceBook for Entrepreneurs and Trauma: The Path of Unification.
In addition to books, we print associated merchandise including book plates, book bags, bicycle tech bags, t-shirts, and more.
As an individual with a strong sense of visionary impulse, what do you envision for Green Bucket Press five years down the road?
Our work is to offer vehicles for the growth of true-hearted voice, the healing of wounds that comes from sharing our stories in a sacred space, by going inside and becoming intimate with our inner landscape and then returning to share our discoveries, monsters and grails.
- Blank Journals
- Themed Workbooks
- Literary Projects
- Creative Print Programs
- Educational Programs
- Community Engagement
- Creativity Activism
- Support Authentic Voice
In addition to being a publisher, you are also a published poet. I’d like to explore that for a moment. What brings you to the page or the poem?Why?
My love for paper, pens, ink, letters, words, printing, books, reading, poems, songs, the crafting of phrases, the space between words, the immersion in the subtleties of word order, of diving into the precision of expression rather than stumbling on the surface of things, the sorting of experience, the extended consideration that becomes written, spoken, sung or drawn. The sound of pen or pencil on paper. The act of sharpening a pencil. The small bowl in which the shavings collect. The relationship with a trusted pen. The care of the pen. The tin box that belonged to my great-grandfather in which the pen is stored. Opening the box to lift out the pen. Placing the pen back in the box. The particular sound of paper as it turns. The differing sounds of different types of paper. The scent of a book. The words on a screen. The feeling of settling in to read, or to edit. The rising of that potent moment when a word or phrase appears as a foundation. The way that time opens to allow language to manifest as a bridge between us. The breath before offering a piece to others. The sacred motion of handing a book or poem or drawing to another set of hands. This binding together of the entirety of living. This is where I dwell and I have always sought this place, and my tribe. I handed a poem to my mother when I was a young child of about 8, and I knew myself to be a poet. I like to explore, and so I write songs and I draw. I write stories from my life. I love to perform, to read and to sing.
List five books that changed your life.
- Little Bear by Helen Minarek
- The Stranger by Albert Camus
- The Way of the Bodhisattva Shantideva
- The Sound and the Fury byWilliam Faulkner
- The Diaries Of Anais Nin
List five poems that enchant or intrigue you.
- Robert Collins’ “Origen’s Angels: The Fall”
- Diane Wakoski’s “Blue Monday”
- George Cooper’s “Come Little Leaves”
- Li Po’s “Alone on JingTing Mountain”
- Federico Garcia Lorca’s “Romance Sonambulo”
What inspires you visually?
Falling water. Breathing bodies at rest. The face of my son. The smoke from incense. Stone beaches.
I understand you are currently working on a memoir that chronicles your friendship with artist Alice Faye Love. Can you tell me more about this project and how it feels different from your prior writings?
This work was a promise that I made to Faye made long ago. Alice Faye Love was a brilliant and complicated person who suffered greatly from the trauma of long-term sexual molestation. She was exiled when she spoke up as a young woman and struggled for balance and stability in daily life and relationship. And yet she shined with the brilliance of an enlightened being. Because of Alice Faye’s courageous voice, I opened the sealed vault of my own molestation and abuse. When my marriage dissolved and I lost my husband to addiction, Alice Faye was a steady presence. And yet her mental illness caused her to behave so unpredictably that I had to construct tight boundaries.
Writing the manuscript has been an extremely painful process. I sought out sacred sites where I could work and be supported by the long-term spiritual practice that has taken place on that land, in that place. The work on the project has been a journey into the underbelly of being an artist and writer living into and through the intense suffering of our days, as well as the shining and ineffable glory, and then telling that story. This is always my role as a writer. I enter spaces and explore, and then return to tell the story. This particular project is a deep plunge into the eternal nature of life, and is demanding.
What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of being a small press in Alabama?
I don’t have an answer for this.
How does your meditation practice enable your artistic process? What would you suggest to writers who are considering beginning a meditation practice?
My meditation practice opens and grounds my artistic process. The practice of meditation is simple and repetitive. It trains the mind to follow commands. For example one sets an intention of bringing awareness to the body breathing and resting there.
The repeated practice helps a person expand beyond the mental ruts that are a normal function of most minds. Mental ruts here include judgments, attitudes and opinions, even emotions that can cloud the unlimited brilliance and possibility of perception and experience.
Meditation helps us to open more fully, and then helps us to simplify and focus on tasks. The practice is very much like the process of breathing that brings the outer world in, and the inner world out. For me, this is the creative exchange, the covenant of my existence in this life. I experience the world, and I translate that experience back to the world through my work.
For beginners, consider that we are always meditating on something. What is it for you? Possibly something that you want? Something that you fear? We are all meditating constantly. It is possible for you to harness your considerable energy to move in a direction of your choosing, and mindfulness meditation practice is most effective. Buy a book, read an article, attend a lecture. I am getting ready to offer a new meditation class in Irondale next month, so check that out on my website, www.annemarkhambailey.com
Thank you so much to Anne for her time and sharing. To learn more about her journey, read this profile in Birmingham Business Journal. We are happy to have her as a new member of AWC.
Voices of Resistance: A Sister City Connection Anthology
Green Bucket Press is proud to offer an anthology of local voices of resistance, hope, and courage. You can purchase a copy for $15 online. Sister City Connection will be hosting a book launch and reading in late October or early November so keep your eyes peeled for the date. Our writers would love to meet you.
Green Bucket Press VoiceBook writing journals are available at the Green Bucket Press web store. Available in 2 sizes, in a lined or grid format. Custom printed journals are available for schools, business and non-profits. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your project.