As the performance web site and calendar for the gallery is slowly coming together, I thought for my first blog post I’d give a quick overview of some of the different series and events we’ll be producing this fall.

The Open Secret: Curated by Brian Wallace and Joni Murphy, this series delves into how artists invest themselves in local community while still keeping an eye to the internet and the various new communities cyber-space affords. This series will be a mish-mash of artist talks, performances, and film screenings from those local and distant that’ll be wrapped up into a sassy publication.

Now It’s Dark: Local improvisor/art-music/nice hair dude Marc Riordan curates a series of experimental films with improvised scores other local improvisors. Marc was at the space yesterday telling me and Abby about one of the movies he’ll be showing: Peanut-butter and Robin the Boy-Wonder is all I’m gonna say. David Moré-who’s show of sound portraits is up at the moment-will be lending his singing saw to the movies, and Jeff Kimmel, Jason Roebke, and Brian Labycz will be around too.

Quiet Circle:More improvisation, but rather than facing a screen, the musicians will be arranged throughout the gallery–the better to make subtle noises that investigate spatiality and notions of collaboration at a distance, my dear. Everything I’ve ever seen curator Noé Cuéllar do is smart (pressed suit rather than SAT) and luscious (folds of thick corduroy rather than lip gloss): ten people playing politely in a circle isn’t just an idea he had, it’s his thing.

As Yet Untitled Experimental Movie Night:Co-curator Jesse McClean has been in Venice for the film fest for the last few days, so we’re still working out the title for this one, but it’s gonna be a doozy: three nights of film that investigate the connections between director and audience. 20 minute Van Halen solos? Middle school kids cussing? The entire cast of Hello Dolly recording the entire Harry Smith folk archive set under heavy sedation? One of these things will not be apart of this series. Co-curated with Eric Fleischauer.

As Yet Untitled Established Authors talking to Younger Authors:I really want to call this night Crosstalk! or At the Table! or Around the Coyote! (…) to give it the Sunday morning TV zazz I think it deserves. This night is being curated by Beth Sampson, who’s working on the new School of the Art Institute journal Dear Navigator, and she’s got poets coming out of her ears/flying in from all over, all of whom I can’t talk about yet. Why am I doing so? Because poetry is a passive-aggressive media.

The Parlor also begins tonight with Gina Frangello and continues through December: Atomix regular Adam Levin will be up in October reading from his new book from McSweeney’s and urban-running-womyn Lindsay Hunter reads sideways from her new featherproof book in November.

The AmperLanterProof Last Chance Literary Blast for the Endtimes!

Oil is spewing into our waters and European volcanoes spit ash into the skies.  Earthquakes spreading like swine flu.  The end, clearly, is upon us.  So join Featherproof Books, Green Lantern Press, and Ampersand Books for a literary apocalypse kickoff party that would go down in the history books…if someone were around to write them.

Featuring the Five Horsemen (and women), cause for this apocalypse, Four just ain’t enough!

A D JAMESON is a writer, performer, teacher, and video artist. He is the author of the novel Giant Slugs (Lawrence and Gibson) and the prose collection Amazing Adult Fantasy (Mutable Sound), both forthcoming later this year. He regularly contributes to the group literary blog Big Other.

Tim Jones-Yelvington’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Another Chicago Magazine, Sleepingfish, Annalemma and others. His short fiction chapbook, “Evan’s House and the Other Boys who Live There” is forthcoming in Spring 2011 in “They Could No Longer Contain Themselves,” a multiauthor volume from Rose Metal Press. With Megan Milks, he co-hosts “Uncalled for Readings,” Chicago’s “mostly Queer, mostly prose” reading series. He is guest editing Pank Magazine in October as a Queer poetry and prose issue.

Lindsay Hunter is the co-founder and co-host of Quickies!, a Chicago flash fiction reading series. Her work has been published widely online, and her collection of slim fictions, Daddy’s, will be out on Featherproof books in September 2010.

Benjamin Lowenkron is a poet, artist, and horseman riding out of Baton Rouge.  He served as Editor-in-Chief of the New Delta Review and founded the Delta Mouth Literary Festival (the dirtiest, sexiest festival in the history of delta mud).  Katrina couldn’t kill him, neither could Rita, Gustav, or Ike. He has a chapbook, Preacher’s Blues out from Ampersand Books, and has been published in The Pinch, The Cafe Review, Unmovable Feast, River Writers, and Big Bridge. Sweet mercy

Adam Gallari is an American ex-pat currently working on a novel and pursuing a PhD at the University of Exeter. His essays and fiction have appeared in or are forthcoming in The Quarterly Conversation, Fifth Wednesday Journal,,, and The MacGuffin. His first collection of short stories, WE ARE NEVER AS BEAUTIFUL AS WE ARE NOW is out now from Ampersand Books.

The Green Lantern Gallery.  July 9th.  7 o’clock.


Don’t let the world end without you.

posted by Caroline Picard

From Newcity’s 411 section:

You can read the whole piece by going here.

It’s a gallery! It’s a performance space! It’s a bookstore! It’s a café! The revived Green Lantern Gallery, temporarily housed at Chicago and Maplewood in Ukrainian Village, permanent location TBD, is aiming to be Chicago’s answer to Gertrude Stein’s living room. It’s an expanded vision of the original Green Lantern Gallery, which director Caroline Picard once ran out of her apartment. When the city shut it down due to an ordinance against such ventures, it left Picard with a choice: go big or go home (no pun intended). She’s going big. The new dream is a joint collaboration with featherproof books, another independent press interested in books that cross the boundaries between visual art and literature. “It’s like a high-school mega crush,” featherproof’s Zach Dodson says of the relationship between the presses. Picard recounts their fateful meeting at the NEXT art fair as a “marathon… of gossip and story-swapping and big-bang idea speculation.”

Summer, AWP, Drinking, Denver. Put ’em together and what do you got? Shots ‘n Shorts! Featherproof Books and Green Lantern Press are joining forces to bring you spinning wheels, shots, and shorts (the clothing as well as the story version) in a fabulous AWP Off-site event.

A fabulous line up of authors will be displaying their gams and literary prowess at Skylark Friday April 9th at 7pm. Each storyteller will step up to spin Nicolette Bond’s Wheel of Drunken Shame, determining which shot they will take or what fate they will endure before reading their short short. With returning authors from the national Dollar Store Tour, you can bet your sweet bippy this is going to be a gratifying night.

Leggy Ink Slingers include:

Nicolette Bond
Blake Butler
Zach Dodson
Amelia Gray
Mary Hamilton
Lindsay Hunter
Jac Jemc
Caroline Picard
Aaron Plasek
Patrick Somerville
Christian TeBordo
Jess Wigent

The juicy details:

Friday April 9th 7pm
Skylark Lounge
140 S Broadway
Denver, CO 80209.

Featherproof offers the perfect remedy to snoozy A.W.P. readings with this boozy H.O.T. reading. After you’ve slept it off come visit the featherproof table at AWP, #E17. There will be author signings, free mini books and more.

Be sure to check out Shots ‘n Shorts. It ain’t your average reading. Fantastic writers sporting short shorts and giving our stems a moment in the spotlight!

posted by caroline picard

You can read the article in its entirety by going here.

Chicago, Ep. 5

DateThursday, December 31, 2009 at 11:00PM

The Literary Death Match return to The Hideout was an April Fool’s evening rife with surprise, as Caroline Picard of Green Lantern Gallery & Press outdueled The Encyclopedia Show’s Robbie Q. Telfer in the strangest, most un-finale finale ever (detailed below), to take home the Literary Death Match championship.

But before the finale April Fool’d anyone, the night began with Picard leading off against Opium9 250-Word Bookmark Contest finalist Kevin Leahy. Picard threw the first punch, moving through a tale that had the audience and judges gripped, before Leahy read a short piece about Pac-Man’s struggles as he turns 30.

The hosts — Opium’s Todd Zuniga & Comedy Central blogger Dennis Diclaudio — then handed the mic over to the judges — Zach Dodson (featherproof books), Trap Door Theatre’s Tiffany Joy Ross, and hilaritress Cameron Esposito — were then handed the mic, where they blurted affectionate critique, with Leahy’s workday shirt undoing his chances, and Picard was chosen as the night’s first finalist.

After a booze-fueld intermission and a commercial break hyping Opium Live’s iTunes channel, the second round led off with Telfer going up against Uncalled For’s Tim Jones-Yelvington. Telfer, a slam poet extraordinaire thrilled with three poems — the first: a man’s one-sided conversation in which he wanted his neighbor’s bear out of his yard. Then up stepped Jones-Yelvington, dressed for battle in a black, sequined shirt and sequins on his face, who’s pitch-perfectly-performed story featured the use of a real-life Taylor Lautner standee.


October 12, 2009

re you ready for the greatest literary week of all time ever!?!

I thought so!
Friends of QUICKIES!, not only does this week hold our second ever FUNdraiser show, but it also welcomes Blake Butler and his new book, SCORTCH ATLAS, as well as the Another Chicago Magazine Release Party! New York can go crawl in a hole, CHICAGO is where it’s at.
Check out these amazing events!
Monday, Oct. 12th, 7 p.m.
Scortch Atlas book release party
No Coast Collective
1500 W. 17th St, Chicago

Tuesday, Oct. 13th, 7:30 p.m.
QUICKIES!!! Reading Series FUNdraiser

This month’s QUICKIES! will kick your ass!

Aaron Burch
Blake Butler
Zach Dodson
Amelia Gray
Jac Jemc
Caroline Picard
Mary Hamilton
Lindsay Hunter
Elizabeth Wylder
Ben Tanzer
Kate Duva
Aaron Plasek
Casey Bye,
and Richard Thomas.

We have twelve amazing readers traveling from four states to join us for this show. Yow!

For only the second time ever, we are asking for handouts. In return, we will give our audience the best reading they have ever seen ever and if they’re lucky, a few audience members will win PRIZES.
The Inntertown Pub
1935 W. Thomas, Chicago

Thursday, Oct. 15th, 7 p.m.
Another Chicago Magazine (ACM49) release party

Sponsored by PBR(!)
Stop Smiling HQ
1371 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago

You know what they say, they do it best in the Midwest.

An Excerpt from Scorch Atlas

September 1, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

Featherproof put out Blake Butler’s book recently and I thought I’d post an excerpt. The following section, read in Atlanta as part of the Dollar Store Tour this summer, is called:


The Gown From Mother’s Stomach

by Blake Butler

The mother ate thread and lace for four weeks so that her daughter would have a gown. She was tired of not being able to provide her daughter with the things many other girls took for granted. Their family was poor and the mother’s fingers ached wtih arthritis soshe couldn’t bring herself to sew. Instead she chewed the bed sheets until they were soft enough to swallow. She bit the curtains and gnawed the pillow. With one wet finger she swiped the floor for dust. God will knit it in my womb like he did you, she murmured. When you wear it you will blind the world. She refused to listen to reason. She ate toilet tissue and sheets of paper and took medication that made her constipated. She stayed in bed instead of sitting for dinner. Carrots don’t make a dress, she croaked. Her stomach grew distended. She began having trouble standing up. Her hair fell out and she ate that too. She ripped the mattress and muched the down. She ate the clothing off her body. The father was always gone. He worked day and night to keep food the mother wasn’t eating on the table. When he did get home he as too tired to entertain the daughter’s pleas to make the mother stop. Such a tease, that woman, he said in his sleep, already gone. Such a card. Because her mother could no longer walk, the daughter spent the evenings by the bedside listening to rambles. The mother told her about the time she’d seen a bear. A bear the size of several men, she said. There in the woods behind out house, when I was still a girl like you. The mother had stood in wonder watching while the bear ate a whole deer. It ate the deer’s cheeks, its eyes, its tongue, tis pelt. It ate everything but the antlers. The mother had waited for the bear to leave so she could take the antlers homs and wear them, but the bear had just gone on laying, stuffed, smothered in blood. The mother swore then–her eyes grew massive in the telling–the bear had spoken. It’d looked right at the mother and said, quite casual, My god, I was hungry. Its voice was gorgeous, deep and groaning. The mother could hardly move. I didn’t know bears could talk, she said finally, and the bear had said, Of course we can. It’s just that no one ever takes the time to hear. We are old and we are lonely and we have dreams you can’t imagine. Over the next six days the mother continued growing larger. Her eyes began to change. Her belly swelled six times its normal size. Dark patchwork showed through her skin. Strange ridges on her abdomen in maps. Finally the dauther called a doctor. He came and looked and locked the door behind him. Through the wood the daughter could hear he mother mother moan. A wailing shook the walls. Some kind of grunt or bubble. The doctor emerged with bloody hands. He was sweating, sickly pale. He left without a bill. In the bedroom, the air stunk sweet with rotten melon. The gown lay draped over the footboard. It was soft and glistening, full of color–blue like the afghan that covered her parents’ bed–white likethe spider’s web hung from the ceiling–gray and orange like their two fat tabbies–green like the pine needles pst the window–yellow and crimson like how the sun rose–gold like her moether’s blinkless eyes.


The daughter wore the gown thereafter. It fit her every inch. It sund in certain lighting. She liked to suck the cuff against her tongue. There was a sour taste, a crackle. She could hear her mother murmur when she lay a certain way. The father, fraught by wht he’d lost unknowing, began staying home all day. He stood in the kitchen and ate food for hours. He ate while crying, mad or mesmerized. He didn’t answer when the daughter spoke. Sometimes he shook or nodded, but mostly he just chewed.  Most days the daughter took to walking as far from the house as she could manage. THe gown made her want to breathe new air. She’d go until her feet hurt her or until the sun went low. When it rained the gown absorbed the water. It guzzled her secret sweat. She got up earlier, patrolled. She wanted to see something like her mother had, like the bear, so that one day she’d have a story for a daughter. She saw many things that you or I would gape at–two headed cattle, lakes of insect, larvae falling from the sky–all things to her now everyday. The earth was very tired. The daughter found nothing like a talking bear. She wondered if her mother had been lying or smeared with fever. At school the other children threw sharp rocks. They ripped the daughter’s gown and held their noses. The daughter quit her classes. SHe walked until he feet bled. Her father didn’t notice. Like the mother, he took on size. His jowls hung fat in ruined balloons. He called for the mother over mouthfuls. Her name was SARAH. The way it came out sounded like HELLO. The daughter couldn’t watch her father do the same thing her mother had. She decided to go on a long walk–longer than any other. She touched her father on the foreheard and said goodbye. She walked up the long hill in her backyard where in winter she had sledded. It hadn’t been cold enough for snow in a long time but she could still remember the way her teeth rattled. She remembered losing the feeling in her body. Now every day was so warm. She swore she’d sweat an ocean. She walked through the forest well beyond dark. The gown buzzed in her ears. It buzzed louder the further from home she went. She kept going. She slept in nettles. She dreamt of sitting with her parents drinking tea and listening to her tell about all the things she would soon see. She dreamt of reversin time to watch her parents grow thinner, younger, while the earth grew new and clean. She walked by whim. She tread through water. She saw a thousand birds, saw lightening write the sky, the birds falling out in showers. The world was waning. The sky was chalk. She felt older every hour. She had no idea she’d come full circle to her backyard when she found the bear standing at a tree. It was huge, the way her mother had said, the size of several men. It was reaching after leaves. It sat up when it heard her. It looked into her eyes. Hello, bear, she said, rasping. It’s nice to finally meet you. The bear stood up and moved toward her, its long black claws big as her head. The collar of her dress had pulled so tight she found it hard to speak: What do you dream, bear? I will listen. She didn’t flinch as the bear came near and put its paw upon her head. It battered at her and she giggled. It pulled her to its chest. She didn’t feel her head pop open. She didn’t feel her beart squeeze wide. The bear dissembled her in pieces. The bear ate the entire girl. It ate her hair, her nails, her shoes and bonnet. It ate the gown and ate her eyes. Inside the bear the daughter could still see clearly. The bear’s teeth were mottled yellow. Inside its stomach, abalone pink. The color of the daughter became something soft–thens omething off, then something fuzzy, then something like the gown, immensely hued; then she became a strange flourescence and she excited the bear–she spread across the wrecked earth and refracted throught he ocean to split the sky: a neon ceiling over all things, a shade of something new, unnamed.

Dollar Store Lit Tour

July 2, 2009

posted by Caroline Picard

So. There’s some right shit going down. Rad shit I mean.


FOLLOW US! All along the tour, on our special
Dollar Store Tour Ticker tape Twitter

NASHVILLE, Friday July 3rd
7pm, FREE
Davis Kidd
2121 Green Hills Village Dr
Nashville, TN 37215
With: Aaron Burch, Blake Butler, Zach Dodson, Mary Hamilton, Jac Jemc Featuring: Todd Dills
AUSTIN, Sunday July 5th
8pm, $1
Scoot Inn
1308 E. 4th Street @ Navasota
Austin, TX 78702
With: Aaron Burch, Blake Butler, Zach Dodson, Amelia Gray, Mary Hamilton, Jac Jemc Featuring: Ryan Markel, Owen Egerton
HOUSTON, Monday July 6th
7:30pm, FREE
Domy Books
1709 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77098
With: Aaron Burch, Blake Butler, Zach Dodson, Amelia Gray, Mary Hamilton, Jac Jemc, Caroline Picard
Featuring: Ryan Call, Gene Morgan

NEW ORLEANS, Tuesday July 7th
8pm, FREE
The Allways Lounge
2240 St Claude
New Orleans, LA 70117
With: Aaron Burch, Blake Butler, Zach Dodson, Amelia Gray, Mary Hamilton, Jac Jemc, Caroline Picard
Featuring: Pia Z. Ehrhardt, Ken Foster, Michael Patrick Welch

FOLLOW US! All along the tour, on our special
Dollar Store Tour Ticker tape Twitter

ATLANTA, Thursday July 9th
9pm, FREE
707 E Lake
Decatur, GA 30030
With: Aaron Burch, Blake Butler, Zach Dodson, Amelia Gray, Mary Hamilton, Jac Jemc, Caroline Picard
Featuring: Todd Dills, Jamie Iredell Music by: Lyonnais Special Book Release! Get Early copies of Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler!

BALTIMORE, Saturday July 11th
Doors 7:30, Show 8, $1
The Lof/t
120 W North
Baltimore, MD 21201
With: Aaron Burch, Blake Butler, Zach Dodson, Amelia Gray, Mary Hamilton, Lindsay Hunter, Jac Jemc, Caroline Picard
Featuring: Lauren Bender, Michael Kimball, Adam Robinson, Joseph Young

NEW YORK, Sunday July 12th
8pm, $1
The Slipper Room
Lower East Side
167 Orchard at Stanton
New York, NY 10002
With: Aaron Burch, Blake Butler, Zach Dodson, Amelia Gray, Mary Hamilton, Lindsay Hunter, Jac Jemc
Featuring: D.E. Rasso, Robert Lopez and The DJs are Deadbeats from: Take the Handle

PHILADELPHIA, Monday July 13th
9pm, FREE
Part of The Monday Night Club at National Mechanics
22 South 3rd
Philadelphia, PA 19106
With: Aaron Burch, Blake Butler, Zach Dodson, Amelia Gray, Mary Hamilton, Lindsay Hunter, Jac Jemc
Featuring: Christian TeBordo, Barry Graham, Sasha Fletcher and then: The Monday Night Club

FOLLOW US! All along the tour, on our special
Dollar Store Tour Ticker tape Twitter

BOSTON, Tuesday July 14th
7pm, FREE
Brookline Booksmith
279 Harvard
Brookline, MA 02446
With: Aaron Burch, Blake Butler, Zach Dodson, Amelia Gray, Mary Hamilton, Lindsay Hunter, Jac Jemc, Patrick Somerville
Featuring: MC Mr. Napkins, Carla Barger, Eugenia Williamson
ALBANY, Wednesday July 15th
7pm, FREE
17 New Scotland Ave
Albany, NY 12208
With: Aaron Burch, Zach Dodson, Amelia Gray, Mary Hamilton, Jac Jemc, Patrick Somerville Featuring: Colie Collen, Shane Jones, Daniel Nester, Christian TeBordo
ANN ARBOR, Thursday July 16th
7pm, FREE
Vault of Midnight
219 S. Main
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
With: Aaron Burch, Zach Dodson, Amelia Gray, Mary Hamilton, Jac Jemc, Patrick Somerville Featuring: Matt Bell

This tour was cooked up by the following authors. The books, reading series, and presses they represent are in parentheses. Amelia Gray (AM/PM , Featherproof Books, 5 Things Austin reading series), Aaron Burch (Hobart), Caroline Picard (Green Lantern Press, The Parlor reading series), Zach Dodson (boring boring boring, Featherproof Books, The Show ‘n Tell series),  Mary Hamilton, and Lindsay Hunter (QUICKIES! reading series), Jac Jemc (My Only Wife, Dzanc Books), Blake Butler (Scorch Atlas, Featherproof, EVER, Calamari, Lamination Colony),  Patrick Somerville (Trouble, Vintage, The Cradle, Little, Brown), and of course Jonathan Messinger (Hiding Out , Featherproof Books, The Dollar Store reading series).

posted by Caroline Picard

We’re teaming up this summer with some bang up authors to go on  a nation-wide tour performing The Dollar Store Show. We’re coming to:

Chicago Launch Party, July 2nd
Tennessee, Fri, July 3rd
Austin, Sun, July 5th
Houston, Mon, July 6th
New Orleans, Tue, July 7th
Atlanta, Thu, 9th
Washington DC, Sat 11th
New York City, Sun, 12th
Brooklyn, Mon, 13th
Boston, Tue 14th
Buffalo, Wed 15th
Detroit, Thu 16th

The Dollar Store is a mixture of comedy and literary readings where everything is inspired by junk bought at a dollar store. It’s been featured on National Public Radio and in major newspapers such as the Chicago Sun-Times and Tribune. The show has sold out it’s Chicago home for 3 years running, and has successfully toured to St.Louis and New York. More information can be found here: This summer we’re embarking on the biggest Dollar Store Tour yet! This tour will include the following authors, (at various times). The books, reading series, and presses they represent are in parentheses. Amelia Gray (AM/PM , Featherproof Books, 5 Things Austin reading series), Caroline Picard (Green Lantern Press, The Parlor reading series), Zach Dodson (boring boring boring, Featherproof Books, The Show ‘n Tell series), Mary Hamilton, and Lindsay Hunter (QUICKIES! reading series), Jac Jemc (The Rejection Collection ), Blake Butler (Scorch Atlas, Featherproof, EVER, Calamari, Lamination Colony), Patrick Somerville (Trouble, Vintage, The Cradle, Little, Brown), and of course Jonathan Messinger (Hiding Out , Featherproof Books, The Dollar Store reading series). We’ll also ask some local readers from [YOUR CITY], to contribute their own Dollar Store Stories to the performance. We’ll be doing a full press campaign, as well as street promotion and on our websites,, and I’d be happy to point you to past press for any of our series or book reviews.

It’s going to be awesome. We’ve already rented the white van.

You can see more about it by going here.

we just got this super-sweet review/interview posted! you can read it here, or check it out on its original site here! Thanks Laura!


Preserving our Independents: Green Lantern Press

By Laura Pearson | 12.10.08

Caroline Picard is the Director of The Green Lantern Gallery and Press, and–like the two Chicagoans featured in the last installment of Preserving Our Independents–she is busy. That is, in a creatively productive sense. In 2005, Picard established The Green Lantern in a building above the Singer Sewing Shop at 1511 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Chicago. The 1,200-foot loft space serves as a venue for all kinds of community art events–exhibitions, film screenings, readings, live music performances, even occasional “acro-cat” circuses and informal break-dance battles.

Besides being a gallery owner, Picard is–among other things–a painter, collagist, writer, and bookbinder. By establishing an independent press as part of The Green Lantern (now a 501(c)3 organization), Picard reinforced her desire to work across mediums. The Green Lantern Press publishes limited edition original fiction with an emphasis on “underdressed intelligence.” According to the mission statement, these are works that “relate old dusty books to contemporary experience without a lot of noise and pointing”–works like Nicholas Sarno’s God Bless the Squirrel Cage, Moshe Zvi Marvit’s Urbesque, and A.E. Simn’s Lust and Cashmere. The GLP also publishes Phonebook, a handy guide to alternative art spaces in the U.S.

A unique aspect of the press is its “slow media” approach: Books are printed in small, collector’s editions of 1,500. The first 500 books in each print run feature silkscreened covers designed by local artists. The remaining “no frills” editions are sold at a lower price, allowing the books to reach a larger audience. This is just one way that Picard, and her collaborators at The Green Lantern, approach their publications and projects with imagination and resourcefulness. Picard believes that many Chicagoans have these qualities in spades. “I don’t think I could have started [in any other city],” she says. “There is such a strong DIY tradition here. I was talking to a friend of mine once about how Chicago is like the Wild West, where anyone can come and set up a little shanty, put a sign out, and sell bonds. People will always come to check it out. They buy the bonds and, generally speaking, the bonds are legit. Sometimes they’re fake, and then people stop going…. But how crazy that people are always willing to give you the benefit of the doubt!”

I corresponded with Picard about the origins of The Green Lantern, book publishing as compared to co-op milk production, and future projects.

Laura Pearson: I’m curious about how you started The Green Lantern. Did it begin as an individual project or a collaborative effort?

Caroline Picard: The Green Lantern began years ago in a series of conversations that ebbed and flowed between myself, Nick Sarno, Jason Bacasa, and a handful of others who happened to be in the same bar or coffee shop at the same time. Depending on who was involved in the conversation, it tended to have different emphases, For instance, I remember sitting on a stoop with Moshe [Zvi Marvit] in Washington D.C. He suggested we one day buy a warehouse building and open a bar with live music for our friend, Peter Speer, who runs an independent music label called Colonial Records (at the time an undeveloped idea without a name). Moshe suggested we could fund the press with the bar, offer live music, and hang art on the walls. I believe we had just come from a lecture given by Noam Chomsky, after which Moshe (age 20 at the time) and I (18) shook the man’s hand and informed him that we wanted to start a revolution. Chomsky gave us his card. I think, somehow, opening the bar was tied into the revolution idea, but I can’t be sure.

A few years later, after college, Nick and I were roommates in San Francisco and the idea resurfaced. This time we thought we’d start a literary journal. We did the research, felt daunted by the economic prospects and, in all honesty, didn’t have the money. The house we lived in caught on fire; I moved to Philadelphia, another roommate moved to Florida, and the other two–Nick and Kate–stayed in the city.

Obviously, things don’t turn out the way one expects, though I think this is generally for the better. We’d always been interested in independent venues and culture, and it was probably only a matter of time before one of us set up shop someplace. The literal beginning of The Green Lantern happened somewhat arbitrarily. I had lived in Chicago for a year, house-sitting. I decided I would stay in the city more permanently and needed to find a more permanent place to live. I looked at various apartments–dark garden places with sketchy landlords and high price tags. In the midst of this, I happened to walk past the Singer Sewing Machine Shop. Above it, there was a For Rent sign. I went to look at it and realized that it would be cheaper to run a space than go to grad school. It would also be more efficient to run an apartment gallery than to rent a single apartment and a studio (I was painting at the time). So I took the place. The next day I called Nick and asked him if he wanted to start the press with me. That was it.

LP: Were there other small publishers that you looked to for inspiration?

CP: I don’t know. Featherproof, certainly. McSweeney’s. Even the not-so-indie New Yorker magazine.

We got our business model from Slow Food organizations. I worked for a year at The Cowgirl Creamery, an artisan cheese company in California. For that year I helped make 350 cheeses a day (their production has gone way up since). The Slow Food movement has enabled mom-and-pop dairies to stay open. By becoming organic, they are able to control their price points, and thus thrive outside of the rubric of co-op milk production, which, from what I understand, is a real machine that streamlines production to such an extent as to squeeze out the little guys. I really liked this approach, because it showed how innovation and creative thinking could create new avenues of economy that then liberate the individual within the corporate system. Obviously, The Green Lantern has a long way to go before we get to such a point. I hope we can though.

LP: GLP publications are lovingly designed! I understand you’ve chosen different silkscreeners (Mat Daly, Alana Bailey) to design the covers. Any specific artists you’d like to work with in the future?

CP: This year we’re working with Nick Butcher from Sonnenzimmer. I don’t know who we’ll work with next year, but I like the idea that each year is a kind of screen-printer’s residency.

LP: What’s next for GLP?

CP: I’m working out the exhibition schedule for 2009/2010 this January. We will be publishing a few smaller books, in editions of 100–200, a long prose poem by Devin King that references The Odyssey, a translation of Rimbaud’s “A Season in Hell” by Nick Sarno (the proceeds of which will be donated to a children’s hospital in San Francisco), as well as a reprint of The North Georgia Gazette, a newspaper published in 1821 by a fleet of English sailors who were trapped in the Arctic for nine months. Our edition will include the original manuscript, as well as an excerpt from the Captain’s journal, some annotations kept by the transcriber, Lily Robert-Foley, and contemporary artworks by Jason Dunda, Daniel Anhorn, Rebecca Grady, Deb Sokolow, and Nick Butcher, who will be pressing a 7-inch record. This book–it’s probably our most ambitious project–is due for release in February, in an edition of 250. Nick Butcher is also going to be making the covers.

The next book we’re gearing up for is an original novel by Terri Griffith, due out this spring. Next fall, we’re going to release a book called The Concrete of Tight Places, by Justin Andrews, as well as a collection of short stories by Ashley Murray.

Which, I guess is to say, we’re going to be really busy. In the best way.

LP: In keeping with the final question of my last column, what are three words you’d use to describe your independent publishing experiences in Chicago?

CP: Wide open. Supportive.