Business Spotlight: Cupboard Pamphlet

>>Theodore Dostoevsky or Virginia Wolff? Highway rest stop brochures or Nicolas Cage’s IMBD page? Time is a capitalist lie or the Triassic era? Be it winged, scaled, or haunted by ghosts, Cupboard Pamphlet has got your back.

Co-edited and published by Kelly Dulaney and Todd Seabrook, Cupboard Pamphlet is a small press specializing in the publication and distribution of chapbooks devoted exclusively to prose. While venues that feature chapbooks for poetry are more popular, it is a rarity to see one intended for only prose. The small press was founded in 2008 by authors Dave Madden and Adam Peterson and was originally conceived in the form of an anonymous pass around pamphlet project.

“They used to be tape bound chapbooks pretty cheaply printed at the copy center at the University of Lincoln Nebraska, where Dave and Adam went.” Says Seabrook. The pamphlets were then deposited around for people to find. “It worked as a sort of experiment against authorship,” Dulaney explains.

Seabrook and Dulaney met through their writing while attending the University of Colorado’s MFA program for fiction. It was 2013 when they assued ownership of the publication and shifted towards the model they use now of a single volume of literature. Cupboard publishes four volumes each year and holds an annual contest for new fiction and non-fiction. Their competition for 2020 is now open for submissions from March 1st-July 1st and will be adjudicated by author, Kim Chinquee.

Unlike other journals and publications, Cupboard’s submission guidelines are intentionally open-ended.

“We very purposefully do not put any content guidelines or formatting guidelines because the thing I think we’re looking for is surprise. There are things we like, sure, but we don’t want to outline those things as being necessary because some of what we’ve published has caught us totally by surprise.” Says Dulaney. “We want whatever the author is doing to be something they believe in.”

With a team of only two, Seabrook and Dulaney redefine small press. Neither university-affiliated nor aligned with small press distribution, they continue to function independently and without the aid of institutional support. As a small press, they rely on themselves, their authors, and their readers. Contest submissions and subscribers help pay authors for their contributions and maintain the costs of printing and manual distribution. Seabrook, who is self-taught in graphic design, also helps design the covers for each forthcoming title. “Because we only choose four manuscripts a year, we get to throw ourselves completely behind our authors.” Says Seabrook.

“The biggest joy is actually digging into an author’s work.” Adds Dulaney. “In a way, I get to form an individual, intimate relationship with each author.”

Their website, as cooly crafted and steeped in ironical play as the stories they publish, offers much more than subscription links and catalogs. Readers can click on “swag,” for cool Cupboard merch, or if they’re looking for a book, but don’t know what to read, they can check out Cupboard’s online quiz, certified to provide indecisive readers with the aid they need to choose a book that may or may not best suit them. Perhaps the most intimate feature of their website is the tab entitled, “sideboard,” which features interviews, prose, and quirky book trailers that were each made in collaboration with independent visual artists and animators.

Forthcoming titles include:

Waiting for the Miracle by Jason DeYoung (forthcoming Summer 2020)

What I Remember of My Love Affair with the Bird and Other Stories by Thomas Israel Hopkins (forthcoming Fall 2020)

Carnival Bound (or, please unwrap me) by Kara Dorris and Gwendolyn Paradice (forthcoming Fall 2020)