Todd Simmons, publisher at Wolverine Farm Publishing Co. and Bookstore, didn’t necessarily set out to start a publishing company and be locally known as a trendsetter in the literary scene of Fort Collins. But that’s what happened.
The 38-year-old father of two started Wolverine Farm before he left his previous job as a social scientist for the National Park Service in Idaho by self publishing a collection of essays, stories and poems.
“During that time period I went through a quiet revolution within myself. I wanted to pursue writing and more creative pursuits than my science background was allowing me, so I quit my job, built a yurt to live in, landed in Fort Collins, and spent a good six months just writing, kinda regrouping and figuring out what I wanted to do,” Simmons said.
When he arrived in Fort Collins in April 2002, he started going to poetry readings and met a lot of other likeminded writers and artists. He and three friends got together and started the precursor to Matter Journal, their first periodical. And Wolverine Farm began to grow.
In mid-2005, Wolverine Farm was granted 501(c) status by the IRS and incorporated in Colorado as a non-profit organization. They opened the bookstore shortly after that.
And the company keeps expanding.
“We’re working on our Letterpress and Publick House expansion. We hope to be in construction by late July with an ambitious opening date of before the holidays this year. Lots of letterpress work will be going on here, lots of literary art and craft workshops with kids and adults, fundraisers, collaborations with other nonprofits, a conference room and intimate event hall that will be available to community groups and other nonprofits,” Simmons said.
Simmons, whose hometown is Augusta, Kansas, continues to have success by working hard and turning his passions into a successful nonprofit and publishing company.
Beth Kopp, general manager of Wolverine Farm Publishing Co. and Bookstore, has only good things to say about Simmons.
“Todd is a visionary. He has really big ideas about making the world a better place, and he actually goes out and accomplishes them. He is passionate about bicycles, agriculture, literature, and community, and has turned those passions into a career,” Kopp said.
John Calderazzo, professor at Colorado State University, thinks that Simmons is very impressive, does what he says and does it spectacularly well.
“I’ve probably known Todd for seven or eight years, and while I don’t remember exactly how we met, I know I was struck right away by his sly sense of humor and serious focus on both science and literary writing, not to mention his (then) nascent sense of community service,” Calderazzo said.
In the middle of all the chaos, the people at Wolverine Farm have still managed to organize the Old Town Book Fair this weekend. The three-day festival will kick off with a costume party on Friday where attendees can dress up as their favorite character or author and head over to Odell Brewing Co. at 8 p.m. It will feature readings by Fort Collins Poet Laureate Chloé Leisure, Jason Hardung and Jack Martin along with music by Snake Rattle Rattle Snake.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Old Town Square will be filled with book sales, live music and literary trivia. Sunday’s activities include art and craft as well as literary workshops throughout Fort Collins. The day will end with a reading from local author Laura Pritchett. Friday’s event is $10 while Saturday and Sunday are free. For more information, please visit www.wolverinefarm.org.
“We do it partially as a fundraiser and mostly as outreach effort. And so what we’re trying to do is really showcase all the local booksellers and literary groups like the Northern Colorado Writers, the Center for Literary Publishing, and just try to bring everyone together,” Simmons said.
Simmons believes that Fort Collins contains a rich literary community that some people don’t even realize.
“We’ve got nationally known writers, Laura Pritchett, Laura Resau, Bonnie Nadzam, Steven Schwartz, all these great voices that are putting out award winning work and getting a lot of attention. I think it’s almost going to sneak up on people how literary of a community Fort Collins is. And I hope our new location with a dedicated event and work space will help lift that community up a notch and give it a platform to showcase their work,” Simmons said.