I had first heard about MÄRZ Verlag when I was about 18 years old and spent my days reading Marx, writing emotive poetry, and trying to find new venues across Germany for my friends and me to read our pornographic/socialist/ailing texts. We even published our own little magazines and books because we knew we wouldn’t have the slightest chance with “real” publishing houses. Oh, but maybe, we thought, if MÄRZ still existed–this would be the perfect publishing house for us … Pushing mixed calculation too its extremes by making a lot of money with pornography and then spending it for groundbreaking poetry and radical theory was most alluring to us. We tried to copy the bold design and did our best in terms of guerilla marketing but it soon became obvious that we had no idea what we were doing.

MÄRZ Verlag has been around for 53 years. Founded by Jörg Schröder in 1969, it used to publish what other publishers didn't dare to: Beat literature from the U.S., comics, poetry collections, sex ed books, pornography and political theory. For many years, MÄRZ set trends for a new aesthetic and a new political movement in the old Federal Republic. Leonard Cohen’s poems were published at MÄRZ, long before he became a singer-songwriter in Europe. For 20 years the publishing house offered the German public a multi-layered program.

For the last three decades, the founder of the publishing house and his wife, Barbara Kalender, who started working at the publishing house in 1980, devoted themselves to their own literary projects, supervised several exhibitions on MÄRZ Verlag, and provided two public institutions with the publishing house’s archive. Jörg Schröder’s death in June 2020 was followed by numerous obituaries praising his publishing legacy.

A couple of months later Barbara Kalender was having a meeting with my former employer, and I had this hunch when I saw her entering his office. After she left I waited for 10 minutes and then stormed his office, just to tell him that I’m going to quit my job of almost 10 years to re-establish MÄRZ if he’s not going to do it. He knew how much I loved the backlist and the misfit attitude of the publishing house, so he simply said, “Go on, I know you have to do it.”

The next step was to convince Barbara not just to sell the good old name and the remaining publishing rights but to start it anew with me, to work with someone, who’s 30 years younger, someone she’s never met before. So, I went over to her apartment in West Berlin with two bottles of wine. When I left eight hours later, my head was not only spinning from the red burgundy but also from all the ideas we’ve discussed. We had even drafted the first covers.

There was just one problem: Money. I didn’t have any, or most certainly not enough to only produce one single book. Two close friends went to the notary with me to set up a new company, one of them being my former boss. With their names on the application, landed a state-funded loan, the first ever for a pubishing house in Berlin.

Now, Barbara and I are working together on a daily basis for over a year already. She is in charge of sales and press but also designs the covers and serves as an editor of the MÄRZ classics, while I focus on editing, accounting and rights. However, as in every small publishing house, we both do every work necessary.

Classics and novelties are equally important to us. None of the MÄRZ classics have gathered any dust yet. Old and new texts are thus supposed to enter into a conversation with each other, to refer to each other, to correspond. There is a form of kinship between Valerie Solanas (S.C.U.M. Manifesto) and Kathy Acker (Blood & Guts in High School), both of which we publish.They both worked with radical language, both became feminist heroines who would in no way ever fit into a corset. Ann Quin's experimental novel Passages and Hendrik Otremba's novel Benito about a blind terrorist also complement each other, as both push the means of fiction to the limit.

And we were lucky enough to already have a new bestseller, against all odds, during the pandemic: Döner. A Turkish-German Cultural History by Eberhard Seidel. It’s all we want from a nonfiction book: starting with a small and seemingly unremarkable object such as fast food and then going on to connect to and explore the huge topic such as work migration to Europe in the 20th century.

Prior to relaunching März Verlag in 2021, Richard Stoiber worked as an editor at Matthes & Seitz Berlin and in editorial and foreign rights at Suhrkamp Verlag.