Dr. Stephen Frech, Millikin associate professor of English, and Millikin University students formed Blue Satellite Press in 2008 with a mission of printing high-quality letterpress poetry broadsides. Students solicit previously unpublished work from contemporary poets, and then design a broadside that showcases what they admire in the poem. Students learn the aspects of design and print production that letterpress printing encourages. Students participate in all roles necessary for maintaining and operating a commercial printing press: editors, designers, printers, production managers and sales/distribution specialists. A key component of this learning laboratory is letterpress printing, an antique print process with movable type. While letterpress printing has largely been phased out of commercial use, knowledge of its mechanics and the vocabulary of its tools and methods are at the core of most contemporary commercial printing processes.
The number of poetry broadsides in Blue Satellites catalog has grown to more than a dozen. Most recently, “Fear of Weather” by Chris Tusa was released in 2016, and “Housework” by Phil Shils was released in May 2017.
Blue Satellite Press participated in a Local Pop-Up DIY event with Phil Shils in April to promote his broadside and is currently planning to host a reading for Phil Shils in Decatur.
Blue Satellite recently added a new imprint of greeting cards: Cheeky Greetings. As the name suggests, these cards are intentionally audacious or saucy, the kind of thing Hallmark would not touch. Unlike the poems featured on the broadsides, these cards are authored in-house, so students must engage ideas of audience in a very different way. The cards are intended to be fun and cheeky without offending, so message and delivery are of great importance. Our questions about audience or customer are not simply who will buy, how and where will they buy, and how many or frequently will they buy. Students also must think about audience interpretation and how to appeal to a broad market and bring all variety of people into the fun. In this way, we are not just identifying audience or market but doing our best to sympathize with them.
To date, there are two cards in the Cheeky Greetings catalog.
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