In Focus: Idaho's Rick Ardinger

By Kliff, Sarah | Humanities, January/February 2006 | Go to article overview

In Focus: Idaho's Rick Ardinger


Kliff, Sarah, Humanities


IN 1976, RICK ARDINGER AND HIS WIFE ROSALIND started producing a literary publication, The Limberlost Review. Each copy of the review was folded and stapled on the couple's kitchen table. In 1985, the Ardingers added a letterpress to their venture. They purchased the press and lead type for five hundred dollars and didn't have a clue about how to operate the machine.

"I thought if it lasted four issues it would be a success," says Ardinger, "but we liked doing it and we used the grocery money to pay for it."

Twenty years later, The Limberlost Review has transformed into Limberlost Press, an independent publishing company that has produced books by John Updike and Sherman Alexie. Ardinger, now the executive director of the Idaho Humanities Council, returns from his office to hand-produce four to five books each year in editions ranging from four to eight hundred copies.

"When people look at the books they can tell a difference; they see a difference," says Ardinger. "When they run their fingers over the page, they can feel the bite of the type and the page. It's something that you don't just read and pass on. I always like to think that our books are something people will keep, and they do. It's kind of like they're little literary heirlooms."

A Massachusetts native, Ardinger moved to Idaho to pursue a Masters of Fine Arts degree in creative writing and quickly acclimated to the local writing scene. Along with running Limberlost Press, he has edited an anthology of local writing, When the Morning Light's Still Blue: Essays about Idaho, and published his own poetry.

As the Idaho Humanities Council's executive director, Ardinger's interaction with the writing community has only increased. Book publishing is no longer a weekend activity-over the past five years, it has become an integral part of the council's work. In 2001, the council started publishing a four-book series of writings by ldahoans that focus on the four ancient elements-water, fire, earth, and wind. The council began the series with the collection Written on Water, and in 2005 released Forged in Fire.

"I think the landscape does influence character, it really does," Ardinger says. "It's inevitable that the region and landscape, the mountains, the rivers, the deserts, and the wide open spaces really do have an impact on the kind of work that many writers do. …

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