Ernesto Priego

Ernesto Priego, born Mexico City, 1975. Currently working towards a PhD in Information Studies at University College London. Writer, translator, journalist, DJ, comic book fanatic...

What is (or has been) your favorite editing project and why?

It was through the act of editing I became interested in writing. Perhaps it was the other way around, because at first I started editing because I was too afraid of writing. My favorite project keeps being my first one: It was probably 1989 or 1990 and my brother, two friends and me decided to start a horror comics fanzine. We published five issues of this infamous fanzine, Hemofilia. I was the only one who couldn't really draw so so we decided I would perform editorial duties. My first encounter with the word "editor" probably came from comic books, so this was where we were all coming from. We paid for everything with our pocket money and our parents took turns to take us to the printer's where we made it by offset. I remember asking the printer to crank up the black ink as much as he could, because we wanted it to have a truly underground feel to it. Now that I think of it, I self-published my first essay there (it was about the serial killer Ed Gain and cinema), and in retrospect I can see how influential, not to say definitive, that experience was. Part of the editor's job was to find out about similar fanzines in other parts of the world, get in touch with them, mail them copies. It was proper "social networking" analogue media style. Editing is a form of writing and drawing (and writing and drawing are forms of editing) because it implies processes of selection and therefore exclusion. The cartoonist needs to choose what is relevant to draw and what is better left out. So does the writer, even the most baroque or naturalistic ones: the writer pans reality, selects aspects, focus on more details and then develops them.

What Hemofilia taught me was that the editor had to be more disciplined than the writers and artists, though. The editor had to make sure the project was completed and that deadlines were met, otherwise the thing would never make it. Because we were too young (I was 14, 15) all we wanted was to do something and in order to do it we just had to let it go, so I did not pressurize the contributors too much, though I remember thinking I had very strict aesthetic guidelines (I rejected several unsolicited submissions). The older I get the more I realize how important editing is, and how it affects everything we do. I do believe that the roles of editor and curator are the essential roles of the 21st century, in spite of the fact they are not new roles, or probably precisely because of that. I am fascinated by the skill of some editors to bring out the best in something or someone. It is the art of true poeisis in that sense, the exercise of a particular view of an ordered cosmos. Being a good editor is not easy, and I think all artists (writers included of course) benefit from the critical view of an experienced other. Though in my manuscripts I play a lot with the order in which I lay out individual poems until I find my preferred order, there are so to speak two axes in which editing functions and this means of course not only the whole thing as a sequence but the individual item as a unit. In this sense the editor is like a textual DJ or text engineer who selects, cuts and pastes, equalizes and mixes, until the ultimate potential of a given text comes to the fore. I haven't done much editing professionally, but I would certainly love to do it again, as soon as I get that same excitement I felt when reviewing those amateur pieces of original comic art...

The Prairie

The ghost
of Laura Ingalls

pronounced in

haunts the
prairies of my sleep.

There will be flowers.

The old house
follows me

Tina & Sylvia Gossip Together

We see
life pass

& long
for days

of warmth
& daze

over the
old balconies

of old
mexican casas

smelling of
beer bottles

& tequila
& incense.

It is
winter here,

she wrote.

They never
met, these

two women,

but loved
life equally,

painfully, to
each other's


We see
life pass

& long
for days

(Both poems are from The Present Day, forthcoming from Leafe Press.)

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