by Intern Blogger Richard Wade
The ideas we receive each day come from various aspects of our daily lives. A painter might become inspired to create their next piece of artwork while people watching on a Sunday afternoon. Hip Pocket Books was born when two friends strolled down Allen Street in the Spring of 2003. Founders Brian VanRemmen and Brian McMahon needed an outlet to distribute the deluge of poetry each of them had written, so Hip Pocket Books was created. “We were both generating prodigious amounts of poetry that we wanted to collect and distribute,” VanRemmen said.
The pair didn’t want to deal with the mainstream journals that seemed to cater to a more academic style of writing. “We were resistant to the idea of ass-kissing our way into the good graces of the established avant-garde publishing houses and literary journals with which we were familiar,” VanRemmen said. “We perceived the work they showcased to be overly cerebral and therefore inaccessible to most nonacademic readers.”
As any author or poet can attest, submitting their work to a literary journal can be a mind-numbing and arduous task. You are often required to submit a letter of inquiry, and some journals will only receive submissions during certain reading periods. “We perceived Hip Pocket as a nonconformist, do-it-yourself imprint that would inexpensively publish small, pocket-size books filled with our own experimental yet accessible scribblings,” VanRemmen said.
The goal of any organization is to succeed, and Hip Pocket books is doing just that. Since their inception in 2003, both McMahon and VanRemmen have collaborated in creating a non-profit that caters to poets and authors alike. The literary and art review named Denim Skin, based in Brooklyn, is a joint venture that VanRemmen co-edits with Michael Demyan. “Brian and I carefully read all potential magazine contributions both independently and collaboratively,” VanRemmen said. “DenimSkin is an outlet for publishing the new and underrepresented of America’s underground poets, storytellers, and visual artists, who create in defiance of conventional form and content.”
A litany of awards might indicate the success of an individual or company, but VanRemmen and McMahon don’t share that same viewpoint. “Success is nebulous,” said VanRemmen. “We operate under the philosophy that what makes humans unique among species is our capacity for creativity and complex communication. We consider all humans artists, and we encourage all participants in our creative community to reach out and evangelize. Our publications are vehicles for accomplishing this. Success is expanding in whatever way we can the artistic consciousness of our species. The greater the extent to which more people consider themselves the authors of their own lives and the coauthors of humanity’s future, the better the future will be for human individuals, human society, and the planet as a whole.”
The team at Hip Pocket Books has created a community of like-minded artists who are all determined to advance in the literary world. An inner drive to achieve success is very evident after reading any of the various works produced by their community of writers, poets, and storytellers.
Richard Wade is a 2009 graduate of Buffalo State College, earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. He is a voracious reader who also enjoys collecting vinyl and attending concerts.