Aurore Press gives local writers a forum, has punk roots

Aurore Press’ story might begin on a night in 1984, when then-new-to-town Betsy Young was driving around Newport Ky with an address written on a piece of paper, stopping people on the street to ask if they knew where to find a place called the Jockey Club.

Or it may begin two years earlier, when a 15-year-old named Chuck Byrd was digging through the punk section at a local record store and got invited to his first show there.

Young and Byrd eventually met at the Jockey Club, moved to San Francisco and married. They returned to Cincinnati and, in 2007, decided to start a publishing house out of their Northside home.

"We were really amazed at how passionate and multi-talented our friends were, and thought it would be a great outlet to showcase their talents,’" Young says.

Young had skills with layout and design, and Byrd had a knack for catchy titles - and access to discounted printing rates and materials at the printing press where he worked. They named their company Aurore press, after their daughter Aurore (pronounced aurora) and founded it on principles rooted in punk rock culture that encourage people to take the independent initiative to put ideas into the world that aren’t typically heard, they said.

Their first work was a chapbook titled “Country at War: Reflections on the War in Iraq," sharing many angles of criticism and experiences of the Iraq war. All proceeds were donated to Disabled American Veterans.

Aurore's next title, "Stories for Shorty: A Collection of Recollections from the Jockey Club," compiled stories, photos and memories from the colorful scene at the Jockey Club in the 1980's. It was a former casino owned by an old man named Shorty that played host to about every big name in punk rock, including Black Flag and The Ramones, and whole lot of small ones too.

Aurore has published books every year since 2007. Each has been a compilation of material from a wide variety of local writers, launched with an event at a local bar, printed and bound with different materials. The books have a decided boutique feel, some with an authenticity rooted in punk fanzine culture. One book, “1st Hand Stories from 2nd Hand Stores,” was bound with colored Duct Tape.

In 2012 the pair will change their format and introduce “The Aurore Press Writer’s Series,” with each book featuring one or two authors. Byrd was recently laid off from his job at the printing press, so printing costs have gone up, but the two said they will continue developing their business model to keep local authors’ work available in an affordable format.

“Like I was saying about some of the guys we like to publish, they just do it because they must, and we keep publishing because we have to,” Young says. “I can't tell you why we have to, its just that we have to. Its like it just feeds your soul, or it puts your true self out there.”

By Henry Sweets

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