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Goodbye Backwords Press: A Personal Note from Phillip

What we call our "band" photo. Credit Molly Choma Photography.

I don’t know what to say about something that has already been talked about so much behind the scenes. It feels like when you’ve over-rehearsed for a presentation and then can’t present, or readied a speech in your mind and then fall silent with an audience. But it’s important to us, to me, to share more than a formal announcement letter – some heart enmeshed in the business details.

The main thing I’d like to express is gratitude to everyone involved – more than the sadness for this ending. Gratitude for the community, the writers, the readers, the strangers that told us they’d heard of our small press, the friends that had to listen to us hyper-focus on Backwords, and the people who wear this translation of poetry.

I feel like I’ve learned so much about about myself in the process of building BACKWORDS Press over the last few years. I’m struck by all the times in the past few years I chose the press over a love/social life – and vice versa. I’m grateful to have had the chance to build something from the ground up – and be a part of the publishing process from start to finish – with two amazing people that helped fill my desire for creativity (and sometimes exhausted me). I’m grateful for all the ways strangers became friends from this common connection of art, poetry, and fashion. I’m grateful for friends and family that supported us/me/this in unexpected ways.

Humble Beginnings – Credit Molly Choma Photography

I’m also so grateful to have learned how to screenprint, design, spreadsheet, and plot with Jenny and Matt. We failed so many times before we started to get it right! Those are the stories you probably shouldn’t share, but I guess we can now. Did you know that you’re supposed to dilute plastisol-based inks before using them? We didn’t! It basically just smears all over the screen and then doesn’t print anything if you don’t. It’s sorta like squeezing old honey through denim, or what I’d imagine that would be like. Did you know that you can’t clean silk screens with just soap and water? We didn’t! We scrubbed for hours, the smear of ink seemingly multiplying, before Google taught us that you need special cleaners.

Also, did you know that if you try, you can share a dream with some incredible people and bring it to life? We did. Or at least, once we started reading the submissions, connecting with writers, and getting people’s feedback, we did.

So, fucking thank all of you. For reading, wearing, and sharing. While the press may be ending, I do look forward to reading and writing many, many, more articles for the blog.


Dear Matt and Jenny,

I love you both. I’m so grateful to have met you two almost as soon as I moved to Portland, just over five years ago. Thank you for pushing me to do better, listening to my snark, putting up with my anxiety, and watching me transition from a fresh college graduate to … a not-college person. Mostly, thank you for being some of the dearest friends a person could ask for. Even if our little press didn’t catch fire the way we’d hoped, and the fact that our lives are taking us in different directions, I couldn’t be more proud of the work and the writers we’ve been lucky enough to share over the last three years. And I couldn’t be more proud of the two of you.

Stay Backwords,

Phillip Trey

REMINDER: We are still accepting new orders through October! This is your last chance to wear and share these amazing writers words. Head over to our store and shop now! <3

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