Tuesday, April 28, 2015

stocktaking 4

another nice photograph by Bruno Leti, in this case of Mouseion Museum, in just 15 copies with 12 for sale - there is one copy left - the poem is made up from passages in my The books to come (Cuneiform Press 2010) - it's on Cave handmade paper, printed in silver at the Pratt-Albion handpress, with Dante, Libra, & Open Kapitalen types - the image is made with brass rules on loan from Otakou Press at University of Otago, New Zealand - and the book is 170 x 130 mm in a blue cloth-covered box - I like the way the shifting colors of the paper alter the colors of the type, and each page is colored differently from page to page and copy to copy - it is I think one of the most condensed accounts of my own engagement with words, with the poem, and with the book I have put together - here's another poem from the work - 

                     the muses as
                              THE LIBRARY
                              THE BOOKS
                     wherever they are
                     a library which has
                               no opening
                               or closing hours
                     that we never visit
                               and never leave
                     in which we inevitably

Friday, April 24, 2015

stocktaking 3

a spread from Heart Sutra, issued in 2009 - a response to being caught up in this most extraordinary of Buddhist Sutras, one of the toughest documents in the philosophical canon - I first read it in the mid-1960s in the translation & commentary of Edward Conze, a little book with both the Heart and the short form of the Diamond (or the 'Diamond cutter') Sutras - as with a number of works that are primary for me as a writer/thinker I had wanted to print Heart Sutra for many years, but was held back by having no qualifications for doing so, and it always seemed to me that reproducing a version that was still commercially available didn't make a lot of sense - when I later found that there were many versions of the work, most of which were translated and on-line, I wondered whether a kind of crib might be possible by comparing every translation I could find - the job was compounded by there being a number of 'originals', versions in a number of other languages that had been made centuries ago - I eventually had about 15 of them spread out on the desk - roughly, what I did was to strip (some of the versions were somewhat flowery in their language & the amount of religious reference they contained) everything that seemed to me to be unessential to the core of the work, to see if it were possible to show a writing that could be read, understood, and accepted by even the most rabid atheist - even so, I wanted to personally be in the background, my name's not on the titlepage, a way of saying that the work chose me, not the other way round, and there is no black ink in the book at all - the poem is printed in silver - there is one copy for sale - the photo was taken by Bruno Leti - 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Crankhandle's launch date

my first commercially produced book of poems since 2008 will now be launched on Wednesday 6 May, 6pm, at Collected Works Bookshop, 1st floor, Nicholas Building, Swanston St, Melbourne - it will share billing with 3 other books, all part of a new venture of poetry book publishing by Cordite Books Inc, publishers also of the online magazine Cordite - the launch will be done by Justin Clemens, and poems will be read from all four books - I will read from Crankhandle, John Hawke from his Aurelia, Tony Birch from Natalie Harkin's Dirty Words, and Lisa Gorton from Ross Gibson's Stone Grown Cold - I understand the latter 'substitutions' are because those poets don't live in Victoria, and won't be present at the Melbourne event - 

because this blog is also bookish in other senses, I'll quote here from Crankhandle, which is subtitled 'Notebooks', two bits quoted from others in the text - 

Dan Carr : 'the process of craft - the transformation
                    of materials - is a process of discovery of
                    previously unknown or unseen aspects of

Kathy Walkup : 'the book is a public place'

and while I'm at it, here's the epigraph to the work, a gritty reminder of the sheer fact of historical forgetting occasioned by the advent of the computer & its masking of the means of its operation, from Rochelle Altman -

                    in antiquity, people knew the meaning and relevance
                                    of every component of a writing system

Saturday, April 18, 2015

From hence poetic fancy learn'd

today's title is filch'd from the type set in the picture above, as the photo also is filch'd, from the website of The Salvage Press of Jamie Murphy, in Dublin, Ireland - I recommend too his tumblr site - there's a lot to see, so when you go into either site, have a few minutes up your sleeve - Jamie Murphy himself seems to roll up a lot of sleeves here & there, including setting the above type, a page from a poem by Jonathan Swift, and curating an exhibition at The National Print Museum in Dublin, titl'd Exquisite Editions, where "25 outstanding books from some of the world's leading fine press printers" has today concluded, having run from March 4 to April 18 - while it's gratifying that I have been included in the "25", it's great to see Tara MacLeod & his Pear Tree Press in New Zealand also in the mix, as part of the recent inclusion of antipodean printers in the overall international scene - a short selection from the other exhibitors includes Barbarian Press, Editions Koch, Greenboathouse Press, Heavenly Monkey, Midnight Paper Sales, Russell Maret, The Lone Oak Press, Incline Press, The Old School Press, & Jamie Murphy's own The Salvage Press - Jamie describes his press activities as 'nomadic', by which he seems to mean that he moves from one printery to another, making books and establishing projects as he goes - it's not quite the same as early itinerant printers who'd cart a printing press around from one town to another, print a few things for the local people, then move on to the next town - but Jamie's enterprise must be unique, tho it would be interesting to see if there are other examples - but, check him out, it's a fine thing he's got going, with high standards of text & production 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

stocktaking 2

Prima materia is the first & only type specimen book I have issued - it didn't list or name types with alphabets, but simply used the types in various settings, some of which were copies of pages in previously printed volumes and others were newly minted for the purpose of the book - the image on the left above is made solely from brass rules, while that on the right contains an image & a few words taken from the great Aldus Manutius's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, Venice 1499 - I had that block made sometime in the 1980s and have brought it out from hiding on a few occasions since then - 

below on the left is simply a small act of homage to the man who started us on the way to print & the multiplication of (more or less, as it turned out) exact copies of a single text - even if "aventur und kunst" were not Gutenberg's words they still perform as a primary stimulus for most of us in the field of fine printing - the types here are John Peters's Castellar & Giovanni Mardersteig's Dante - on the right, the large figures are wood type and the only part of whatever font it is that I have - the Greek below is Jan van Krimpen's Open Kapitalen, and the whole setting a nice example of what can be designed when one accepts the sheer limitations of what one has - 24 letters in the Greek alphabet = 22 + 2, and voila, a design & text looms into view - 

the work is done in 50 copies on Magnani handmade paper & printed on a Pratt-Albion handpress - there are just 2 copies available at AUD $750 - the pictures were taken by Bruno Leti - 

Monday, April 13, 2015

more Richard Wagener in 'Vestige'

when noting Vestige way back on February 16 I should have included one of Richard Wagener's wood engravings, and I thus rectify that omission here - the are five in the book, all with the central colors different on different colored backgrounds - all of the colors are very soft and seem to sink into or emerge from the paper, which is a very thin, fragile, Japanese handmade yamagampi paper which rests on a blank sheet of sturdier Twinrocker as a kind of support behind it - all the poems were written to be of the same length as the poem shown, each to fit closely the size of the central image in the engraving - it's another example where the prints came first and the poems after, a reversal of the more common process of making images to follow texts - I understand there are still copies of Vestige available, tho the earlier collaboration between Richard & myself, Loom, published by David Pascoe's Nawakum Press (see Nawakum's new website, it's splendid) is out of print - the picture above was taken by Richard - 

Friday, April 10, 2015

stocktaking 1

over the next few weeks I'll be running notes on Electio books that are still in print (which means that a copy or two is still available for sale), even tho 'in print' may mean there's only one copy left - above is the title opening of Jenson's Greek, based originally on a reading of Nicolas Jenson's 1480 Last Will & Testament - calligrapher Deirdre Hassed drew some wonderful enlargements of some letters from Jenson's Greek type (1471) and they became 'illustrations' for the book, each printed in a different color - some of the poems are poetical-looking accounts of fragments of the history of the types & Jenson's place in Venetian printing, some are rearrangements of parts of Jenson's Will & some nice oddities in the English translation, and some are a) a copy of the Jenson type, b) a resetting in Victor Scholderer's New Hellenic type, c) a rough transcription of a number of translations of the passage (from Plato's Gorgias quoted by Aulus Gellius in his Noctes Attica, printed by Jenson in 1472) - here's one of Deirdre's letters, hand-drawn and reproduced in the book using magnesium blocks - the pictures were taken by Robert McCamant -