by Sheldon C. Wesson
Amateur journalism is among the most "sharing" of hobbies. We write (and create artwork) for an audience, whether that audience be a single lady love who bashfully receives a poem, or a literary audience of thousands.
Compare these with the collector of postage stamps or the wood-worker or the happily sequestered artists in oil paints or clay, whose finished work may be exhibited for thousands.
A little over a century past, pre-teens and teen-agers found peers, in individuals and groups, with whom to share their thoughts and emotions in the forms of prose and verse. From local and regional clubs, the share-ers went nation-wide and even world-wide wherever English is spoken and written. The American Amateur Press Association is today's leading manifestation of that growth.
In fact, as we saw a few months back, the AAPA is additionally conscious of the need to preserve and advance a tradition which for us is a healthy 60 years old.
Sixty years ago, the youngsters who founded the AAPA expressed their joy in publications which last September required two fat bundles to mail--a hard act to follow. The hugeness of the collective effort speaks well for the founders of the association and pride of publishers who may have been on the membership rolls for only a year or so.
The Big Bundles that lead the cheers for individual accomplishment (100 numbers of a journal) is our own unique form of family (or class or troop) group embrace.
Both motivations have been prominent in Big Bundles during recent years. We are the better, as individual publishers and as a group, for these efforts...
After the prideful bundles of last September, we quickly came back to the more traditional publication array--a bundle of high typographic, literary and thought-producing quality--in October. Consider reviews the perennial question of whether ajay is a vanity press. Conclusion: Who cares? Ajay is a showplace for the ego. Score one for the literary hobby. Joe Gardner explores the joys and woes of fishing; Russell and Delores Miller are joyful in the company of the Green Bay Packers...a lineal throwback to the early days of AAPA, when teenage fans enthusiastically reviewed professional games long relegated to the record books. John Carroll deplores the difficulty of sharing amateur papers with uninitiates. Carl Morrison describes the joys of acquiring his first Kelsey press, a teen-age experience that rings familiar to hundreds.
All these adventures and more would sound familiar to amateur writers and printers of the 19th Century, then again to the 1940s, and yet again to the present. If in 1940 we debated printing versus mimeography, and now computer composition versus letterpress, the principles are the same. The literary and artistic egos strive for an outlet and for an audience satisfied.
Stan Buchanan and Fred Liddle entertain and amuse us; we have always had humorists in our midst, thankfully.
Unique to our hobby is the collector of metal types who also prints for the joy of the task. Ralph Babcock represents that special breed of cat.
Then there is the unique group that is happily always with us: returning publishers who have been gone for a generation or so and who give our hobby continuity and more meaning for the newcomer: John Vaglienti for outstanding exINTERNET examples and "second generation Brian Boyer."
Yes, we share to grow...
Amateur journalism is a unique activity. Amateur journalists publish journals on paper & online & come from many perspectives: from deluxe letterpress printed journals, to Xeroxed newsletters, to artistically designed cards and ephemera. We embrace the spirit of being amateurs – loving what we do for pure joy and not financial gain – while creating top quality journals, zines, and homemade publications.