Dec. 7, 2006–Bradfield & Broadsided Press–Elizabeth Bradfield

December 2006: Bradfield & Broadsided Press
by Carolyn Rinehart

Our December speaker, Elizabeth Bradfield, is an innovator, so it seems fitting that she is the first to have her talk digitally recorded. Jerami Marsh, a new student member from UAA who did the recording, checked the video and audio after the Dec. 7 luncheon and reported that it was of good quality.

He plans to edit the movie, taking out “dead space and bloopers,” and insert slides from the show Liz presented. He hopes to have it posted in a week or so (about Dec. 14), but said this first one may take a little longer.

A link to the video will be on the APC website. The recording is intended for anyone interested, but especially for our out-of-Anchorage members, including student members in Fairbanks. There will be a low-quality video for dialup internet users and a high-quality version for broadband users.

Something’s missing from our streets and public bulletin boards, and Liz Bradfield wants to put it back.

It’s the broadside. Common in past centuries, these single sheets were posted in towns across the nation. They carried announcements, advertisements, political commentary, song lyrics, cartoons, and poems. They encouraged thought and public discourse.

They championed the cause of a woman’s right to vote, and they provided a place for the early “beat” poets to get their poems read. Some current poets, such as Adrienne Rich, issue illustrated broadsides of their poems that are framed in galleries and sell for hundreds of dollars.

Believing that the on-street broadside has a place in today’s world, Bradfield started Broadsided Press a year ago with the goal of putting art and literature on the streets.

One broadside a month appears on the site, each with an original poem and artwork to illustrate it. Writers e-mail their work to the press. Once Bradfield and her co-editor Mark Temelko have selected a piece for publication, she sends it out to her stable of 21 artists, and the first one to request the right to illustrate that poem gets it.

One of the first poems to be published was “Green,” by APC member Linda McCarriston, now living in Fairbanks. It’s one of the most frequently downloaded, Bradfield said. Other titles include “Sketch of an Astronaut” and “Edison in Love.”

For distribution, Bradfield, who lives in Anchorage, relies on her “vectors”—friends of the site in cities and towns across the nation. The vectors download the broadsides, print, and post them. Vectors are in 25 states at present, plus Canada, England, and Germany.

No money changes hands; the site exists purely for the love of literature and art, Bradfield said. Her only costs are her time and the cost of web hosting for the site, about $40 per year. (She’s exploring some money-making opportunities from it, however.)

Bradfield’s background prepared her for her grassroots publication venture. She is a recognized poet whose works have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry, the anthology Best New Poets 2006,and other outlets. A graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage with a fine arts degree, she did collaborative work with artists at the Vermont Studio Center.

She acquired Web experience through doing editorial work for Moms Online, a parenting website, in the 1990s. She particularly liked developing the online community of mothers, which gave her the idea for the artists’ and writers’ community of Broadsided Press.

Bradfield is also a Web designer and a naturalist. Her firm, Pelagic Design, creates websites to swim in the “open ocean” of the internet.

She wants to see Broadsided Press grow, and perhaps her talk to APC will help her do that.