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Ai's groundbreaking second poetry collection has been out of print for too long. Help us bring it back to contemporary readers.
208 backers pledged $10,734 to help bring this project to life.

About

Killing Floor: A 40th Anniversary Edition project video thumbnail
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$10,734

208

**Scroll Down for Stretch Goals and New Incentives!**

THE PROJECT

"I mean to live." These defiant words appear on the first pages of Killing Floor, setting the tone for an American masterpiece that speaks across race, class, generation, and experience. Moving through 1561 Peru, 1927 Russia, 1945 Buchenwald – and speaking through historical figures from Marilyn Monroe to Emiliano Zapata – Killing Floor is the radical, extraordinary second poetry collection of the poet Ai, master of the dramatic monologue and patron saint of everyday tragedy.

Maxine Kumin, Philip Levine, and Charles Wright selected Killing Floor as winner of the Lamont Poetry Prize of the Academy of American Poets in 1978, a year that saw the Jonestown cult suicides, the birth of the first test tube baby, the election of Harvey Milk, and the minting of the Susan B. Anthony dollar. Forty years later, this collection feels more relevant than ever for its unflinching spotlight on the lives and fates of those the world has ignored.

But sadly, Killing Floor has fallen out of print and has remained so for decades.

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of its publication, help Tavern Books put this essential book back into the hands of readers in a beautiful, lasting edition newly contextualized with an introduction by Major Jackson.

Killing Floor will join our permanent catalog in both paperback and hardcover editions, and will be distributed nationally to bookstores, universities, libraries, and individuals. Following publication, we will hold several events – including a major book release party at the University of Arizona Poetry Center – celebrating the legacy of Ai and the book.

It is our objective to keep Ai's urgent voice alive in the cultural dialog, and to launch an extended campaign to ensure that Killing Floor is adopted into the curricula of classrooms across the country.

Join us in realizing our dream project: to give Ai's vision a home at the forefront of American Letters.

!!!UPDATE!!!UPDATE!!!UPDATE!!!  

First off, THANK YOU to everyone who's pledged so far -- we're so honored that we've already reached our first goal, and Killing Floor will be out this October in two beautiful 40th Anniversary editions! 

 ur work isn't done yet, though. We have wider audiences to reach, more classrooms and libraries to impact, more review copies to send out, more events to host on behalf of this book. Help us increase our print run and even more robustly advocate for Killing Floor -- and in the process, support these two fun projects that we can only achieve with a little boost: 

STRETCH GOAL #1: $10,000
Print run increase + A star named after Ai!


Since 1979 (the year Killing Floor was published), the International Star Registry has named hundreds of thousands of stars for people from all walks of life. We believe Ai deserves a spot in the galaxy that is all her own. If we reach $10k, we'll increase our print run, name a star "Ai", and send ALL BACKERS a copy of the hand-lettered, richly embellished ISR registry certificate. 

The ISR Certificate
The ISR Certificate

STRETCH GOAL #2: $15,000
Print run increase + Library donations + Ai Seance + Chapbook publication 

The dedication in Killing Floor reads, "For the Ghosts." And Ai's exceptional capacity for empathy, her dogged interest in the lives of others, and her refusal to ignore the psychological realities of the best and worst of humanity--combined with her mastery of the dramatic monologue--allowed her to channel ghosts from far-flung places and times. In acknowledgment of her ability to commune with and inhabit such perspectives, Tavern Books will hold a literary seance with a professional medium. The medium will be invited to read Killing Floor prior to the seance and has agreed to allow us to make an audio recording of the ensuing session. 

This stretch goal will also allow us to:
- Further increase the print run of Killing Floor
- Donate copies of Killing Floor to rural and Tribal libraries across Oregon
- Publish a chapbook containing the transcript of the seance, which will become part of our permanent catalog.
- Commission an original pointillist portrait of Ai from outstanding portraitist/poet Zachary Schomburg. This portrait will serve as the cover of the chapbook. See examples of his portraiture here and below.


If we reach Stretch Goal #2, all backers at $39+ levels will receive a copy of the chapbook and all backers at $150+ levels will receive a print of the portrait!

Examples of portraiture by Zachary Schomburg.
Examples of portraiture by Zachary Schomburg.

THE AUTHOR 

Photo courtesy of the LaVerne Harrell Clark Photographic Collection
Photo courtesy of the LaVerne Harrell Clark Photographic Collection

Ai, who described herself as 1/2 Japanese, 1/8 Choctaw-Chickasaw, 1/4 Black, and 1/16 Irish, was born in 1947 in Albany, Texas, and grew up in Tucson, Arizona. She began writing at the age of 14.

Ai attended the University of Arizona and received her MFA from the University of California, Irvine. Her first book, Cruelty, was published in 1973, and she went on to win fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. After winning the National Book Award for Vice, she became a tenured professor and the vice president of the Native American Faculty and Staff Association at Oklahoma State University. She died in 2010.

THE BOOK

Cover design for the Tavern Books edition of Killing Floor. Art by Susan Albers.
Cover design for the Tavern Books edition of Killing Floor. Art by Susan Albers.

Killing Floor by Ai
Introduction by Major Jackson
POETRY / 84 pages
Distributor: Small Press Distribution
Forthcoming October 2018
$17 paperback / $30 hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-1-935635-72-7 (pb)
ISBN-13: 978-1-935635-73-4 (hc)

Read some poems from the book on the Poetry Foundation website:
"Killing Floor"
"Nothing But Color"
"The Kid"

Original edition (Houghton Mifflin, 1979)
Original edition (Houghton Mifflin, 1979)

WHY WE CAN DO IT!

Tavern Books has been publishing since 2009, and during that time we've worked with numerous estates, archives, copyright holders, and universities to realize our editorial vision. To date, we've published 55 titles from over a dozen world languages under the auspices of state funders, private foundations, and national granting agencies, including Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Our catalog includes books by Nobel Prize laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, emerging poets, and neglected masters.

Tavern Books is a non-profit with very little overhead. We do a substantial amount of work with a modest budget and a small infrastructure (there are just two of us!). That means that your donation has a great deal of mileage in terms of making the actual book.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Your contribution of any size will help us produce this vital work of art and history, as well as place it into the hands of readers and onto the shelves of institutions, libraries, bookstores, and classrooms nationwide. We have already secured the rights to publish Killing Floor, but we are reaching out to the public to engage our readers with the production of this book, ensuring an even larger audience impact.

What does your gift mean? On a practical level, the funds raised through this campaign will offset printing costs, copyright fees, book design, editing, acquisition, and distribution. But on another level, the magnitude of your donation is unquantifiable; Killing Floor is a tangible monument to remembering and to empathy, a summons to recall the humanity that persists in the face of suffering. Your funds will go toward preserving a moment in history that is, like all historical experiences, susceptible to being forgotten. And, of course, your donation will fuel the overarching mission and philosophy of Tavern Books, which is to preserve printed books and book culture.

Every dollar counts; whether you can give $30 or $3,000, you will be investing in a literary landmark. Check out our awesome incentives!

Vintage poster for Ai's 1972 reading at University of Arizona's Poetry Center. A frameable print is yours starting at the Ballad Level ($100+)!
Vintage poster for Ai's 1972 reading at University of Arizona's Poetry Center. A frameable print is yours starting at the Ballad Level ($100+)!
Choose any hardcover from the Tavern catalog starting at the Villanelle Level!
Choose any hardcover from the Tavern catalog starting at the Villanelle Level!
            
Get your paperback copy of KILLING FLOOR at the Dramatic Monologue Level
Get your paperback copy of KILLING FLOOR at the Dramatic Monologue Level
   
"Pink Buttes" by Susan Albers. A gift at the Ekphrastic Level gets you an 8 x 10 signed print of this beautiful piece.
"Pink Buttes" by Susan Albers. A gift at the Ekphrastic Level gets you an 8 x 10 signed print of this beautiful piece.

ABOUT TAVERN BOOKS

Tavern Books is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit literary publisher based in Portland, Oregon. We exist to print, promote, and preserve works of literary vision, to foster a climate of cultural preservation, and to disseminate books in a way that benefits the reading public. We focus on reviving books that have gone out of print, publishing work in translation from around the world, and championing the work of young female poets. We are archivists at heart – the preservation of print culture and under-recognized voices is an essential tenet of our philosophy.

We believe that books deserve to last, which is why the contracts we issue our authors specifically state that all titles we publish will remain in print in perpetuity. So we'll never have to worry about Killing Floor going out of print again.

A day in the office.
A day in the office.

Here at Tavern Books, we believe that our editorial, design, and production decisions reflect our commitment to the culture of the written word. Simply put, we don't cut corners. In all of our publications, we take the extra steps necessary to ensure that readers are given exciting and diverse avenues into the indispensable poetic voices of our modern era. We believe that books are more than words—that’s why all of our titles are issued in a beautifully designed, uniform series in both paperback and hardcover editions.

Tavern Books hardcovers look like this!
Tavern Books hardcovers look like this!

Even though digital short-run printing, e-books, and print-on-demand platforms are markedly inexpensive alternatives to craft printing, we’ve chosen to offset print all of our full-length collections on Heidelberg printing presses here in the United States. This traditional craft method uses printing plates to create books that are exceptionally beautiful and a joy to hold.

Find out more at www.tavernbooks.org.

OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP

Not in a position to donate? Please know that word of mouth is instrumental to raising awareness and funding. Each person who shares this message will contribute greatly to the making of Killing Floor. Help us get the word out! Share this link and talk to other readers about this project.

Risks and challenges

Killing Floor is a risky book because at every turn it confronts the un-confrontable. Ai delivers readers into a distinctly American violence, giving human voice to longing and deprivation, inequity and heartbreak, inherited violence and elemental need. We will be asking educators and readers across the country to read and share Killing Floor and treat it as the classic we believe it to be. In spite of its difficult subject matter, we will be insisting on its educational and artistic value as a cultural imperative.

We rely on the generosity of readers and book lovers to bring our projects to fruition. Only about 30% of our revenue derives from book sales; the rest comes from grants, donations, and corporate sponsors. As with any book we publish, we must rely on a variety of funding sources to carry out this project. Killing Floor is a particularly financially challenging book to publish, due to the high cost of acquiring rights.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Haiku Level: The Voice of Ai!

    Receive a digital audio clip from a reading Ai gave at the University of Arizona Poetry Center in 1972.

    Includes:
    • Digital Audio Clip
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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Ode Level: More Digital Rewards!

    Receive the above rewards, PLUS:

    a digital broadside of a poem from KILLING FLOOR and a scan of a delightful illustration that Ai drew in one of her books.

    Includes:
    • Digital Broadside
    • Scanned Illustration by Ai
    • Digital Audio Clip
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    Pledge $14 or more About $14

    Sonnet Level: Make it REAL!

    Get it? Sonnet? 14?

    Welcome to the first level that gets you a real object! You'll receive the digital rewards listed above, PLUS:

    a 6x9" full-color physical copy of the broadside mentioned above.**

    **Note: This is the ONLY level at which you can receive this gift!

    Includes:
    • Physical Broadside
    • Digital Broadside
    • Scanned Illustration by Ai
    • Digital Audio Clip
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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Dramatic Monologue Level: THE BOOK!

    Ai was a master of the dramatic monologue. Give at this level and you'll help us get the presses started! In thanks, we'll send you all digital rewards, PLUS:

    a paperback edition of the book!

    Includes:
    • Paperback edition of Killing Floor
    • Digital Broadside
    • Scanned Illustration by Ai
    • Digital Audio Clip
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    Pledge $39 or more About $39

    Sestina Level: A Little Extra!

    Okay after this level, we'll stop with the nerdy correlations between dollar amount and line count...

    Give a little extra and receive all of the above, PLUS:

    a beautifully designed, finely printed copy of an extremely hard-to-find article Ai published in Ms. Magazine in 1978 (the same year KILLING FLOOR was published). The piece is titled: "On Being 1/2 Japanese, 1/8 Choctaw, 1/4 Black, and 1/16 Irish."

    Includes:
    • Finely Printed Essay by Ai from Ms. Magazine
    • Paperback edition of Killing Floor
    • Digital Broadside
    • Scanned Illustration by Ai
    • Digital Audio Clip
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Eclogue Level: Upgrade!

    Receive everything above*, PLUS:

    the HARDCOVER edition of the book! (Or, as it's known in the office, the Cadillac edition.)

    *Note that the hardcover edition replaces the paperback edition from here on.

    Includes:
    • Hardcover Edition of Killling Floor
    • Finely Printed Essay by Ai from Ms. Magazine
    • Digital Broadside
    • Scanned Illustration by Ai
    • Digital Audio Clip
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Ballad Level: Throwback

    Receive everything above, PLUS:

    a print of an AMAZING frameable vintage 12 x 15" poster from a reading Ai gave at University of Arizona Poetry Center in 1972.

    Includes:
    • Print of Vintage Poster from Ai's Reading at U of Arizona
    • Hardcover Edition of Killling Floor
    • Finely Printed Essay by Ai from Ms. Magazine
    • Digital Broadside
    • Scanned Illustration by Ai
    • Digital Audio Clip
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    10 backers
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Villanelle Level: The Living Library

    Receive everything above, PLUS:

    Any hardcover of your choice from the Tavern Books catalog, known as The Living Library:
    http://www.tavernbooks.com/books

    Includes:
    • Hardcover of Your Choice from the Tavern Books Catalog
    • Print of Vintage Poster from Ai's Reading at U of Arizona
    • Hardcover Edition of Killling Floor
    • Finely Printed Essay by Ai from Ms. Magazine
    • Digital Broadside
    • Scanned Illustration by Ai
    • Digital Audio Clip
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    5 backers
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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Ghazal Level: NAME RECOGNITION!

    Receive everything above, PLUS:

    Have your name listed on the donor page of every copy of KILLING FLOOR in both editions.

    Includes:
    • Name Recognition in Killing Floor
    • Hardcover of Your Choice from the Tavern Books Catalog
    • Print of Vintage Poster from Ai's Reading at U of Arizona
    • Hardcover Edition of Killling Floor
    • Finely Printed Essay by Ai from Ms. Magazine
    • Digital Broadside
    • Scanned Illustration by Ai
    • Digital Audio Clip
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    5 backers
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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Pantoum Level: VIP Treatment

    Receive all of the above, PLUS:

    A VIP-level invitation to our "Evening of Ai" party at the University of Arizona Poetry Center (Tucson) with special guest speakers and readings. VIP access will include a pre-party dinner with poet Richard Shelton, Poetry Center Executive Director Tyler Meier, and the Tavern Books editors.

    Includes:
    • VIP Ticket to "An Evening of Ai" at the Poetry Center
    • Name Recognition in Killing Floor
    • Hardcover of Your Choice from the Tavern Books Catalog
    • Print of Vintage Poster from Ai's Reading at U of Arizona
    • Hardcover Edition of Killling Floor
    • Finely Printed Essay by Ai from Ms. Magazine
    • Digital Broadside
    • Scanned Illustration by Ai
    • Digital Audio Clip
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Ekphrastic Level: ART!

    Receive all of the above, PLUS:

    A signed 8 x 10" print of the gorgeous KILLING FLOOR cover art by Colorado-based painter Susan Albers AND a year-long paperback subscription.

    Includes:
    • Signed print of KILLING FLOOR cover art
    • Year-Long Paperback Subscription
    • VIP Ticket to "An Evening of Ai" at the Poetry Center
    • Name Recognition in Killing Floor
    • Hardcover of Your Choice from the Tavern Books Catalog
    • Print of Vintage Poster from Ai's Reading at U of Arizona
    • Hardcover Edition of Killling Floor
    • Finely Printed Essay by Ai from Ms. Magazine
    • Digital Broadside
    • Scanned Illustration by Ai
    • Digital Audio Clip
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    Blazon Level: Publisher's Circle

    Receive all of the above, PLUS:

    Your name in every book published in the 12 months following your donation and year-long paperback AND hardcover subscriptions.

    Includes:
    • Name Recognition in Every Tavern Title for a Year
    • Year-Long Paperback Subscription
    • Year-Long Hardcover Subscription
    • Signed print of KILLING FLOOR cover art
    • VIP Ticket to "An Evening of Ai" at the Poetry Center
    • Name Recognition in Killing Floor
    • Hardcover Edition of Killling Floor
    • Hardcover of Your Choice from the Tavern Books Catalog
    • Print of Vintage Poster from Ai's Reading at U of Arizona
    • Finely Printed Essay by Ai from Ms. Magazine
    • Digital Broadside
    • Scanned Illustration by Ai
    • Digital Audio Clip
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    0 backers
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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Epic Level: We Throw You a Party!

    Receive everything above, PLUS:

    We'll come to your city and host an Ai celebration for you, your friends, and members of the general public at your venue of choice! If you are an institution, we will organize a reading at your headquarters, campus, or venue of choice.

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    0 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)