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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: Dane Johnson

Sunday Bloody SundayFinding Identity and Rhythm

Sunday Bloody Sunday

Dane Johnson is a published poet and award-winning lyricist from California. Currently, he works as a freelance writer and contributes to causes and companies around the world. You can learn more about his work here and creep on his Instagram here. The following is Dane’s essay taken from the book Song Stories: Music that Shaped Our Identities and Changed Our Lives.


I was 12 years old when I first heard the drumbeat driving U2’s earliest political protest song, Sunday Bloody Sunday (War, 1983). All my attention was fixed on the speakers as they were teaching me that poetic angst pairs perfectly with percussion.

I accessed the song through U2’s The Best of 1980-90 album just before entering my restless high school years. The song would provide me with much-needed identity and rhythm in the seasons ahead. It taught me how to find patterns in complexity. And, ultimately, it made a drummer out of me.

It begins with drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. cracking sixteenth notes against a snare drum. The hits resound like a slow-motion machine gun. Mullen, Jr. then stomps in the kick drum with a four-on-the-floor boom, bringing scattered strikes between hi-hat and snare into a pulsing heartbeat. The drums shoulder all audience attention for nearly the first 10 seconds of the song.

At the time, these three layers – kick, snare, hi-hat – seemed like clattered chaos, and my untrained mind didn’t have time to make sense of its assault on my ears before Bono softened the militaristic rhythm with heartfelt “woahs”.

More than wanting to make noise and release pent-up teenage angst, my aspiring musician friends and I longed to express ourselves in a way we couldn’t communicate through normal dialogue. We learned quickly that confusion, when cornered, seeks creativity as an escape route and, sometimes, it may leave a trail of art in its wake.

I determined that drums and lyrical poetry were the instruments by which I’d be understood.

In spite of listening to the song on repeat for weeks, I couldn’t figure out how the three layers went together. My hands, feet, and brain wouldn’t cooperate. So, I signed up for weekly drum lessons and promptly brought the U2: Best of 1980-90 CD to my instructor.

He was calm and cool as he listened to the first few seconds of the track. He closed his eyes and bobbed his head. Then, before the song had even reached the chorus, he abruptly turned the music off.

“Ok, let’s get crackin’,” he said.

What he then taught me was something I’ve been learning ever since.

“The song might sound complex, but you can always break it down. Once you stop, listen closely, and tackle it one little bit at a time, you’ll then be able to find the groove.”

Life benefits from the same approach: listen, take it a beat at a time, and settle into a groove. It’s funny that a protest song with militant rhythm taught me how to find my peace.

 

 

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2.10.17

Dane JohnsonDane Johnson is a published poet and award-winning lyricist from California. Currently, he works as a freelance writer and contributes to causes and companies around the world. You can learn more about his work on his website, ramblewithaplan.com, and creep on his Instagram by following @ramblewithaplan

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