Blue Slag Press

Blue Slag Press & The Abaculi Project

“Blue slag” refers to a rock-like refuse from nineteenth-century iron manufacturing. I learned about this industry and its history as a young person on the Blue Ridge Scout Reservation, a 15,000 acre property in Pulaski County, Virginia. At the entrance to one of the reservation’s camps, on Big Macks Creek, is an iron furnace built not long after the Civil War.

I remember searching for fragments of slag along the dirt road leading into the camp. I have a chunk of this material—with its varied blues and obsidian-like break-lines and shine—on display in my office and home. Finding beauty in discarded (and rediscovered) things resonates strongly with me. As The Abaculi Project asks poets to make new writing from rediscovered images,  Blue Slag Press seemed an apt name to bring to the effort.

I was advised against using the the word “press” for a project where there is no physical press, but the use of “press” as “publisher” (and divorced from the material print shop) was already underway long before 21st century digital publishing. And to my ear, the phrase “Blue Slag Press,” with its three stresses and masculine ending, has a music that “Blue Slag Publishing” just can’t beat.

Nevertheless, “press” can call up a fiercely material image given the mechanics of such a machine, whether in its simplest or most complexly developed form. I don’t mind that evocation, no matter how far-reaching. And my hope remains that some readers will, using their available technologies, choose to print and bind the individual leaves of The Abaculi Project, if only by simple hole punch and brass brads, or by more creative or ambitious devices.