Help Coco learn to print!

Help Coco learn to print!

Get exclusive, for the first timer EVER! hand-printed, hand-bound risograph books, comics, and prints made by Coco Poley sent to you via mail!
$920 🎉
of $800 (USD) goal
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Hi everyone, and welcome to Coco Poley's learning-to-print campaign, where you will help a Maine writer, poet, and artist be able to print their own works sustainably and ethically at a local printing press in Portland. 

Coco Poley, writer, artist, and roller skater

Coco Poley is a writer living in Portland, Maine with her two big dogs and a cat. She has been writing stories, books, poetry, essays, reviews, and opinions her whole life.

It is only in recent years that Coco has struck out into the published world with her creative writing and artwork. She has some printed works including a self-published poetry book called "If Only a Cat Could Read a Book", which is a collection of all-ages poetry from Coco's life. She has also been published in All Your Poems magazine and on How-to Geek and Stack Overflow

Coco is also an artist and comic creator. Part of this printing journey will be not only to print Coco's creative works, but also artwork, poetry, and comics. Becoming a printer is an exciting and challenging way to level up the scaled distribution of Coco's works. 

Sustainable local printing combats online warehouse companies

This campaign is going to help take Coco to the next level so that she doesn't have to rely on any corporate self-publishing houses that do not pay writers a living profit on their printed materials. On top of this, Coco will own the publishing rights to anything that she creates in the studio. American artists and writers don't have it easy in a culture that perpetuates "product" over creative expression, and Coco believes that by learning to print her own works and the works of other marginalized writers and poets through a local press is a more ethical practice. Her goal is to further the efforts in American society towards more local business support and paying writers a living wage. 

Printing is in my blood

The front room of Pickwick Independent Press in Portland, Maine

How it all began

In September 2023 I sat on a stool beside a table full of prints of all types and themes and inks and colors. Next to me were two other people there at the Pickwick Independent Press, for an educational orientation about how to become a press member. The room was filled with letterpress equipment, big tables full of prints of all kinds, a colorfully stained sink that had taken a beating over the years. The counter was decorated with a dusty coffeepot and a sign that had the wifi password.

Across from me sat two founders and fundamental printers at Pickwick, there to teach us about what it means to print at Pickwick and to be a member there. One of them asked us, "What is your personal history with printing?"

When it was my turn to share with our instructors, I found that I had a lot more to say about printing than I had ever imagined I would. I had forgotten somehow that my grandfather was a printer, until that very moment. I had forgotten that my ex-husband knew screen-printing, but now the memories of carrying those screens around for years from apartment to apartment, came back to me in that moment. I remembered what my father had said about working in a printing press that doubled as a bicycle repair shop when he was young. It turned out that in that moment, I realized I have quite a history with printing, though I have never myself been a printer.
Two panels from a short comic by Coco Poley

I went home and applied to Pickwick as fast as I could. My fierce curiosity had to be sated. I began to dig into my paternal history. There was my grandfather Joel Poley, an artist and once a printer in California. There was my great-grandfather Wendell Poley, a printer in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Then I discovered that my great-great-grandfather, Harry Poley, had been a printer in Berlin, New Hampshire as far back as the early 1930s almost a hundred years ago. Wendell had cut his teeth on the printing presses in Berlin with his father Harry before he moved to Massachusetts. All this time, I thought, and it's been in my blood and I never knew it.

Grandpa Joel

I lost my grandfather Joel Poley during the pandemic, when there was no time for memorials. There was no room for the kind of close grief that you want to feel with your family, there was no chance to say good-bye. There was no funeral, because my grandfather's burial place is here in Maine and so will the memorial service be this summer, and his passing place was California. I look back and I wish with all of my heart that I had discovered this part of my own family history sooner. I look back and I wish that I had answered the phone when Grandpa Joel called me, and I thought, "I'm in the middle of something." Maybe we could have talked about printing. Maybe I could have told him with honesty and hope who I am, my full identity, and he would have loved me without bigotry. Maybe I could have talked to him about divorce. I don't know. That is all in the past now.
The Berlin Directory, 1932 showing Harry Poley and Wendell Poley working for two different publishing companies.

But here I am, and printing is in my blood. I did know Grandpa Joel a little, and he was kind to me and taught me how to draw and paint. He reached out to me and wanted to be a part of my life. Some part of me wants to be a printer because he was, too. Because his father Wendell was, and his grandfather Harry was. I bet they never predicted that their queer descendants would want to print feminist, anti-capitalist, divorce poetry. I think that's another exciting part of this, though. I am taking my surname and my family history and I am making it my own, too. 

The Numbers

How does learning at Pickwick Independent Press work? 

Pickwick Independent Press requires that all new members take a 4-hour safety and equipment training course to begin their printing membership at the printing press. They also require a one (1) year contract as a Printing Member to be signed for all new members, so that they can guarantee revenue for their small printing studio. To be a Contributing Printing Member it costs $75 per month. So essentially for one year, it costs a new member $250 once + $75 x12 ($900) = $1150 to participate. 

What is Coco asking for backers to contribute?

I believe that with my part time work and continued searching for more writing contracts, I will be able to sustain the membership with my own money after the first six months. In the meantime, I could use the help to be able to do this.

I am asking for a total of $800, which breaks down like this:

  • $175 towards my required 4-hour safety and equipment course at Pickwick Independent Press
  • $450 first four (6) months of Pickwick Independent Press Membership ($75 per month)
  • $100 paper and binding supplies
  • $75 in fees, Backerkit money, envelopes and postage to send printed books to my backers

If you have any more questions about the cost or where the money is going, please let me know. Thank you for considering a contribution to this campaign!

Why now?

In November 2023 I lost my full-time technical writing job in a mass layoff. I did what I could with my savings to a point but like everybody does I needed a job. I applied rigorously and sent out more than two hundred applications in two months. I got all of three interviews. Looking at LinkedIn numbers was savage. 200 applicants for this job. 500 for that one. 1000 for this one.

So when a good friend and former professional mentor asked me, "Why don't you just continue to write? You always do anyway." I began to really think about how I could get my writing into the world. I sent poetry out to magazines and began looking for an agent. I began making comics, zines, art, stickers, and poetry zines and trying to sell them so I could pay the bills. I'm learning how to table at events to sell my works. Every week, I apply to more writing contracts, mentee programs to accelerate my career, make more professional connections and dream up pitches for publications. My writing career is ramping up.
Coco Poley, writer, artist, poet

It is the right time to get these words into the world. It's the right time to help, to change, to challenge, to confront, to love, to heal, to grieve through words and art and to share all of that as much as I can. Pickwick Independent Press is excited to have me as a member, and I am excited to begin this printing journey and share it all with you. This is the time. 


After my campaign ends I will send out backer surveys and get addresses and chosen names (for the honorable mention in my next poetry book) from everyone. This will be the first week of May 2024. Then I will ship everything out as the backer surveys come in! 

All shipping is free since it will be flat post and the cost of shipping and envelopes is in my campaign total. For more information on that please see my “Numbers” section and thank you so much. 
If you believe that this project is not in compliance with BackerKit’s Community Guidelines or Terms of Service, you can file a report by sending a message via this link: Report this project