Wednesday, December 31, 2014

squeaky last post for 2014

all years are tough & tender, it depends on which direction one's looking at any moment - but I want to thank everyone for your support & encouragement thruout this year - it has been something of a wild ride - the great success of CODEX 2014 in Melbourne last March and the demise of Codex Australia soon after - the hours of personal questing & questioning about 'what on earth I'm here for' that followed - the publication of poems in Loom to wood engravings by Richard Wagener by David Pascoe's Nawakum Press in California; the immanent issue of Vestige, poems to accompany more engravings by Richard and issued by his own wonderfully-named Mixolydian Editions, also in California; invitations to participate in the Codex Foundation's Alchimie du Verbe, with 25 book artists 'from around the world', and The National Print Museum's Fine Press Book exhibition in Dublin, Ireland early in 2015; the acceptance of a book of poems, (a paperback, no less!), Crankhandle, by Cordite Poetry in Melbourne, coming out in 2015; the sad & unnecessary closure of The Holloway Press at the University of Auckland (which I helped to found in 1994); an exhibition of Holloway Press books in Auckland, which then travelled to Christchurch to the Christchurch Art Gallery; and a talk I gave at Steve Clay's home in New York City back in 2010 will now be published in Threads, a series of talks by book artists (all the talks were delivered at Steve's home), published jointly by Steve's Granary Books, New York, & Kyle Schlesinger's Cuneiform Press, Houston, Texas; I launched a splendid exhibition of the calligraphy of Deirdre Hassed, a gem of which now hangs on the wall at home; and I gave two talks, one at the State Library of Queensland titled Electio Editions - what is a printer to do? and the other was the Keynote at the Victorian Bookbinders Guild symposium, titled Shaking the pumpkin : the artisan and the book as a work of art

for Electio in 2015, two books : one, the poems of my early (1960s) friend & mentor George South, and two, a book by Western Australian Robert Wood, who I met in Philadelphia in 2004 - he was in a class of Charles Bernstein's there - and he now lives in Melbourne - add to that four or five poetry broadsides, and writers already lined up for that are Marion May Campbell & Ruark Lewis, there may be one by the printer, and two others are under discussion - 

I cannot comment on 'world news' it is so irremediably bad - the amount of killing that happens every day is beyond any individual's capacity to grieve for - no wonder a local death is capable of unleashing a large scale social grieving - it stands, it seems to me, as a trigger for the deep grief most of us feel at a world in which power & money does not care whether any of us lives or dies - yesterday, a neighbour gave Miriam roses from her garden and they now grace, and seriously, they do grace, our kitchen table - and we do know that acts like these are also commonplace and along with whatever work we are given to do, are sometimes the only defence we have against the killing tides - let 2015 be safe for all of us -

Thursday, December 25, 2014

a note towards the year's end

it may seem absurd to many who'll think 25 December is not a day to treat simply as 'one day among all the others', but for me is has been that for a very long time - as the year is 'drawing all too rapidly to a close' (from Beyond the Fringe, sometime in the 1960s, and the full quote is "I see the sands of time are drawing all too rapidly to a close"), I have time over the next month or so to reflect on a long history of writing/printing, and figure out what, with age & health more pressing than they used to be, I might do next for the long haul, and over the next year - it seems odd to buy more type at this late stage, but I have ordered 24pt Albertus Light, and 12D/14pt Gill Sans Light Greek (capitals only) from Offizin Parnassia in Switzerland (they bought the late Harold Berliner's type foundry, and I still have Harold's catalog, Types we can make in hot metal, Nevada City, California) - I have only seen Albertus Light used by Sebastian Carter at Rampant Lions, where he made brilliant use of it in Samuel Beckett's As the story was told (1987) - I have only seen the Gill Sans Light Greek used by Peter Koch in his beautifully austere edition of Herakleitos, translated by the wonderful Guy Davenport (1990) - interestingly, both these books are printed on the tan-colored Zerkall laid paper (Nideggen in Koch's, Silurian in Carter's, tho both papers look identical to me, and seem to be of the same weight & color) - Davenport's essays, The Geography of the Imagination, is on my reading list in the next weeks, it's a book I return to each year, and some of the shorter essays, just a couple pages long, are great to read aloud - in any event, the printer is resting over the holiday break (Pithecanthropus erectus desperate to sit down again! - 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Will there be words

the book's done - prospectuses & orders are going out today - then the mind turns to the next project, the poems of George South - 

meanwhile, I have been invited to participate in an exhibition of fine press books at The National Print Museum in Dublin, Ireland - 25 book artists have been invited, including Editions Koch, Russell Maret, Lone Oak Press, Barbarian Press, Midnight Paper Sales, Greenboathouse Press, Heavenly Monkey, Pear Tree Press, The Old School Press, Incline Press - wonderful to be in such company, and the book I am sending is Jenson's Greek - the show will be held February/March 2015 - I'll provide more detail as it comes to hand - 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

the book, inter alia

Will there be words is printed, folded, collated, & ready for sewing into covers - the books will be posted out to buyers on Tuesday of next week - meanwhile, I want to thank all those who either confirmed or joined up for my new prospectus postal mailing list - the email list (which I retain for notices other than prospectuses) is now much shorter than it was, and the postal list is looking refreshed & healthy - 

the next book will be poems by George South (mentioned earlier in the blog), with an Introduction by one of the most respected elders of Australian letters, Chris Wallace-Crabbe - it's likely to be a 40-page volume, bound in boards with a slipcase, and will cost around AUD $800 a copy - I am hoping also that there will be one special binding at $1500 - the plan is to publish in March 2015, and all will be more fully revealed in the prospectus, which will be issued in February - 

my intention to issue a number of poetry broadsides thruout next year is underway - four will be produced, on handmade papers, with metal & wood types, all signed by the poets, in 26 copies, priced at AUD $75 each - no prospectuses will be issued, I will use the email list for these, and of course I'll post pictures of them here - 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

'All photographs are liars'

I love this photograph - in a way it is a perfect example of what the text you see proposes - that even the solid, factual, inescapable reality of specific marks on a specific piece of paper can respond to the specific and differing organs of perception that are focused towards it - the photo was kindly taken by Robert McCamant of Parenthesis magazine, and it is with his generous permission I reproduce it here - taken from the frontispiece of my recent book, Jenson's Greek, the 'real' paper is creamy/white - but here it seems as if all the colors of the spectrum are at play - they say that all the colors are contained in white light, do they not - and others have said (getting this from Ivan Illich's In the vineyard of the text) that the white page is the open self upon which 'the word' is written, upon which we are thereby inscribed by the culture in which we grow - the photograph lies in terms of what one sees - the photograph tells a truth about the relation between an object and the process of which it is a part - who knows what Herakleitos would think about it - on another hand, a piece of paper is not a blank slate, tabula rasa, and nor are any of us - the apparently blank sheet is already a function of cultural inscription (the historical contexts in which paper has been made by hand for the last millennium)  before any mark is added to it - Herakleitos's text is printed in silver with Jan van Krimpen's Open Kapitalen type - in the type I have, the roman is 24 point, the Greek is 24 Didot, & I'm trying to remember why the types are on two different measures - if my memory is correct, the 24 point type came from the foundry of the late Paul Hayden Duensing, I think while he was still in Kalamazoo, & the Didot came from Enschede in The Netherlands when it was still casting, and both in the 1980s - I first saw this type on a titlepage of Mottetti / Motets by Eugenio Montale, translated by Charles Wright, and printed by Kim Merker at The Windhover Press at the University of Iowa, 1981 - the hand-worked yellow on the inside of the letters has always moved me - and Miriam has kindly taken this picture of it - 

Friday, December 5, 2014

last printrun on present book

Miriam's photographic take on the last printrun of Will there be words - while the top portion (the proportion is the golden ratio) looks black here, it is Thalo Blue, from Graphic Chemicals, darkened by the red underneath it - even tho the brass rules used to make these images are not spaced out, they still have apparently un-inked lines between them, as can be seen in the red section - when the blue rules are over-printed at the top, and because not all the rules are of the same width, there is this nice effect that some of those 'between' spaces appear light blue - three colors from two, which is an old letterpress trick, but one which can still surprise & delight - it might be a fault, and some will think so, but I like a bit of indeterminacy, a bit of uncertainty, in my work - I admire without stint, don't get me wrong, the extraordinary control in the work of printers like Russell Maret in New York (tho there is no one 'like' him), or Gaylord Shanilec in Wisconsin - and it could simply be that I am lazy and should strive to be more of a printing technician than I am - but I do enjoy a measure of shiftiness in the image, which of course is not visible in any one volume, but is when one sees all the printed sheets laid out side by side - it raises an old bibliographic question about printed texts : which is the 'real' work, this variation found here, or that variation found there - or is the 'work' the whole edition, or the whole collection of textual variants which a poet, say, might spread over time - in which case, the 'whole work' is never visible in a single view - I like such conundra, and feel no urge at all to solve 'em -