Moveable Type: Talking with Lisa Pearson, Founder & Publisher of Siglio

March 1, 2015


Lisa Pearson, the founder and publisher of Siglio, answered our questions about what it means to be dedicated to publishing—what she looks for in manuscripts and what makes Siglio unlike most literary presses.

What’s Siglio’s philosophy? I am committed to making a space for irresistible and challenging works that do not easily fit in either the literary or visual arts, made by artists and writers who are driven by their own very particular vision (and not at all by trends, career, or marketplace), and whose work invites readers to engage in quite unexpected modes of reading.

Why is this intersection of art and literature, of an inimitable work and a sharp reader, of singular style against standard expectations, important? Why not? The literary and visual arts are now segregated (for all kinds of reasons)—a recent phenomenon that makes culture poorer, more shallow. Why not reach for something unusual, something surprising, something that opens up new possibilities? Human imagination is like water—it moves naturally and swiftly where its flow is unimpeded, into whatever space opens. I am very interested in those kinds of spaces—the in-between, the uncontainable, where things spill over and where they converge. That’s where all Siglio books live.

What happens to someone who reads the five most recent books from Siglio? That would be an extraordinary set of books—by Sophie Calle, Richard Kraft, Ray Johnson, Dorothy Iannone, and Robert Seydel. Each has its own quite singular alchemy of language and image, using the field of the page and the space of the book in very different ways. If you’re a writer reading all of these books, I think you’ll understand language and narrative structure in entirely new ways, and you’ll particularly delight in the possibilities of where obsession and unbridled play can take you. Liberation awaits!

Why continue to publish books? Is there a goal in mind? Publishing is, for Siglio, an act of giving as well as dissent, an embrace as well as an act of resistance. On the one hand, it’s about devotion to works of art and making a space for them in the shape of a book in which the object itself is integral to the reader’s experience… rather than serving simply as a transparent literary device: the book as a place of intimacy. On the other hand, this kind of… attention to “the book” is also an act of resistance against the literal, the facile, the hegemony, and lowest common denominator of the marketplace. I want to change the meaning of that word “unpublishable.”

Any good new books on the way? I’m very excited about Siglio’s fall release—the first complete edition of John Cage’s Diary: How to Improve the World (You’ll Only Make Matters Worse). It’s probably his most prescient, personal, and accessible work—a repository of observations, anecdotes, koan-like stories, even jokes, typeset (through chance operations) so that the language has such visual delight and play that it becomes almost musical. For those unfamiliar with Cage, it’s a brilliant way in to one of the most influential figures of the 20th century avant-garde.

What work do you hope authors send to you? The only real requirement is that the work is truly a literary-visual hybrid—and that I fall in love with it. I also expect it to challenge me in some unexpected way, to yield more and more when I read it again and again—and promise something extraordinary when I pick it up years later. I expect it to fill me with wonder, to move me in some way, to have at its core, not only ideas, but also body and heart. I want to be awe-struck and inspired to give it everything I’ve got to share it with others. In other words, astound me.

Check out Siglio’s beautiful, experimental, and wholly unique catalog at

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