Feb 042009
Authors: Cecelia Wildeman

By Kelly Bleck

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

A multi-faceted, community oriented organization, Wolverine Farm Publishing gives opportunities to aspiring authors and artists and provides unique products to those seeking something to strengthen the mind.

Created by Fort Collins resident Todd Simmons, Wolverine Farm publishes the “Matter,” a literary art journal twice a year, produces local books and runs the Matter Bookstore in Old Town.

“I was doing a lot of writing and was frustrated with the lack of grassroots venues for artists and poets to get their work out,” Simmons said. “I started the publishing company on a whim, I never had a huge game plan.”

Coinciding with the Bean Cycle, Wolverine Farm relies on their venue to house the Matter Bookstore and the Wolverine Farm office.

“It was an idea floating around through various people, but we didn’t have any capital to start our own bookstore, or the space,” Simmons said. “The Bean Cycle had a similar interest so we decided to work to share a space. We made it from nothing, we made our displays, took donations and it grew slowly.”

Wolverine Farm is a non-profit organization that relies on donations for their collection of books as well as their publishing house. Visitors can donate their books and receive a receipt to claim on taxes because it is a donation to a non-profit.

Volunteers run the Matter Bookstore, accepting the donations, deciding prices and arranging the store.

“I decided to volunteer here because I wanted to help their mission,” said Matter Bookstore volunteer James Robinson. “It’s a really good organization in the community and I like the idea of the volunteer portion. I’m an aspiring writer myself and it’s a good community to be a part of if you’re in a literary pursuit.”

Because it is a non-profit, Wolverine Farm must buy 20 percent of the books on the shelves of Matter Bookstore, but 80 percent are donated. The profits from selling the books pay for publishing local work.

The organization has published one book that was written by local authors. It is a collection of short stories called “Goat Trees.” The authors published through Wolverine Farm are mostly local, but national and international artists are sometimes featured.

The Matter literary art journal provides another outlet for local authors. Each journal is based around a theme, this years’ being “Press.”

“Fiction, non-fiction, visual essays, anything we can print we try to do. We’ve even printed plays before,” Simmons said. “‘Press’ could be things like media issues, a take on ‘pressing ahead,’ ethics, physical incarnations of pressing against things. It’s very diverse and we try to allow as many different takes on the theme as possible to represent the different takes on language.”

Wolverine Farm sends out requests for submissions to the local universities and literary groups, but mainly authors hear through causerie.

“They mostly find us. We’re not designed to be a huge publishing company. We’re small and unique,” Simmons said.

Along with the Matter journal, Wolverine Farm publishes a periodical called “Bone Shaker,” which is an almanac to bicycling, and “The Great Ecstatic Reporter.”

“‘The Great Ecstatic Reporter’ has only been published a couple times, but it’s a hybrid cross between a magazine and a zine. It’s about how people can lead rich full lives, and about dealing with inability issues,” Simmons said.

Wolverine Farm also generates community awareness through meetings and book clubs.

“Wolverine Farm has community awareness events. So, last year was “Year of the Vote” because of the election,” Robinson said. “A book club met every month and read books about politics, and discussed current issues.”

This year is Year of the Farm, so the club is focused on agricultural products and problems, such as food security.

There is a loft located in the Bean Cycle where different groups meet to discuss local issues or recent happenings.

“It’s a public space where different groups get together representing different people. It binds the community together through common interests and values,” Simmons said. “I didn’t intend to change the community, but it progressed into something that could.”

“There are always petitions in the Bean Cycle for people to sign,” Simmons said. “We set out to do what we’re passionate about. We do what we love and believe in, and some may be idealistic notions, but I guess we’re just idealistic people.”

Staff writer Kelly Bleck can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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