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About Us

(The story of Misfit Press is inextricably linked to the story of Misfit Incorporated, which is inextricably linked to the story of AJ and Melissa Leon. These fascinating stories have been told at length on many other occasions – in newspapers, on TEDx stages, during numerous interviews and chance meetings in wine bars. If you want to explore the weird and wonderful company that is Misfit Incorporated, peruse our site. For the full backstory, check out this video interview.)

Misfit Press itself was established in 2014, with the publication of AJ Leon’s The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit. The little-known backstory to The Life & Times is that it was originally slated to be published by a major American publisher, who headhunted AJ after noticing the popularity of his blog, The Pursuit of Everything. About a third of the way through the writing of the book, AJ began to get twitchy about the compromises involved in traditional publishing: uncompromising editorial pressure, a lack of say on issues such as design and artwork. Not long later, AJ bailed on the contract, and decided to publish the book himself. The Misfit team created and ran a Kickstarter, aimed at raising $15,000 to cover publishing costs. By the time the fundraising had run its course, pledges totalled more than treble that amount. With the excess funds, AJ and Misfit decided to go one better than just publishing a book, and also founded a publishing house.

Since its founding, Misfit Press has steadily flourished. In 2015, we took under our wing Wolftree, the finest arts journal in the American Midwest; we released our 2015 Anthology, featuring the finest creative work we encountered over the preceding year; and The Life & Times of a Remarkable Misfit continued to find readers across the globe. In 2016 we published Destination Shakespeare, the debut poetry collection from esteemed Shakespeare academic Paul Edmondson; and we have more Shakespeare-related publications in the works for 2017, including Shakespeare On The Road, a tale of a Shakespearian adventure across the US.

Last  year was a big growth period for the Press, and there is lots more on the way for 2017. As you’ll see from our Forthcoming Publications section, over the next twelve months we will be publishing Saya Sayama: Three Years in Myanmar by incredible photojournalist Spike Johnson, a photonarrative account documenting a unique moment in Myanmar’s history: the violent shift from General Ne Win’s fifty-year dictatorship to the country’s first steps towards democracy. Also imminent is Tangentially Reading, featuring some of the most insightful, shocking, touching, and hilarious moments from the first 200 episodes of Christopher Ryan’s much-loved podcast, Tangentially Speaking.

These are exciting times at Misfit Press. To keep up to date with everything that’s going on, follow us at our blogFacebook, Twitter and/or Instagram. Into the future, we will always continue to work in the fashion we do right now: with authors we like, on projects that matter, in a way that leaves writer, reader and everyone in-between satisfied. We will also never renege on our One-for-One pledge; for every publication we ever sell, a child in India will receive money towards prescription eyeglasses, via the Misfit Foundation.

w: Matt

Showcasing: the Misfit Press
Literary Supper

Misfit Press was founded in a spirit of experimentation. At the beginning, we didn’t have anything resembling a long-term plan – we just knew that mainstream publishing had proved a disappointment with AJ’s essay collection, and suspected that we could probably do a better job ourselves.

Ever since that first, happy success, we have known that we would continue to approach publishing differently. From the very beginning, Misfit Press resolved to present, celebrate and disseminate the written word in ways that most printing houses don’t. Publishing is a centuries-old industry, which is remarkably set in its ways. Print books, sell books. At Misfit Press, though, we want to do more than this. We want to explore new ways to share and spread the written history of the consciousness of homo sapiens, because we happen to agree with Bukowski’s pronouncement that “without literature, life is hell.”

Last year, we hosted our first big experiment in sharing literature – in making narrative fiction what, for most of human history, it was: a communal event, to be spoken and heard amongst a group of close companions, in the hours after sundown.

The preparation was extensive, the result of much late-night brainstorming, and every feature of the evening was meticulously designed. On July 27th, around sixty people gathered in the beautiful space above Fargo’s ecce gallery. There were twelve readers, drawing on work from six authors: Diane Di Prima, Allen Ginsberg, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edna St. Vincent Millay and Jack Kerouac. With all these authors hailing from either the Jazz Age or the Beat Generation, the food, the music, the cocktails and a million other details were developed in relation to these eras, and these six masters of the written word. There was a four-course dinner, and there was much wine (and vodka) (and grappa).

A few highlights: to start was Allen Ginsberg’s winter borscht recipe (a favourite of his mother’s), paired with his favourite jazz musician, the bassist Charles Mingus. Later, a riff on Hemingway’s favourite stovetop camping meal: pan-fried fish with corn cakes. (Hem we paired with Buena Vista Social Club – he was fund of Cuban music.) The Fitzgerald course featured the glazed ham which forms the centerpiece of the opulent buffet at Jay Gatsby’s parties, paired with some twenties jazz from Louis Armstrong. Everything was closed out with Kerouac’s favourite dessert, apple pie and ice cream – in On The Road he eats it constantly because “I knew it was nutritious and it was delicious, of course” – to the sound of his beloved Charlie Parker.

The whole thing was intended as an immersive experience; a sort of parallel universe in which the whole environment drew on these authors’ sensual and creative worlds. This video – produced by the excellent Fargo-based production studio, Yarn – gives a fantastic sense of how the whole thing looked, tasted and felt.

The evening was a wonderful success, and set the template for something we intend to repeat in the near future.  To see more images from the evening, search #misfitpresssupper on Instagram.

To those who were there that evening: thank you.

To everyone else: we hope to see you at another Misfit Press Literary Supper soon! Watch this space for news on a 2016 event.

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11.16.15

MattMatt is Chief Editor at Misfit Press. Alongside overseeing all activity at the Press, he is in the latter stages of a PhD, working on a thesis examining the intersections between literature, neuroscience and the philosophy of consciousness. Soccer, snowboarding, prog metal, Dostoevsky, a good Chianti and strangers' dogs all rank amongst his favourite things.

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E. M. Forster Predicted the Internet, Skype and Climate Change in 1909

Beowulf: Between Pagan Heroism and Christian Heroism

Shakespeare in Yosemite

Misfit Press