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Showing posts from 2009

Words and Art for Sale!

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As previously promised (in the post before last), copies from the 50 volume edition of Sleight are now available for sale in Emily's Etsy shop! There are pretty pictures and all. Also, if you happen to live in the Chestertown area, our handmade book project is available locally at both Bookplate and Chestertown Arts League.


Words I want to use in a poem

gut
gaudy
glow-worm
plumb
itch
wallpaper
organ-eyes
margin
mantle
fortunate

Let me count the ways

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So, the festival was amazing. It was everything we wanted it to be and more. Thank you to everyone who came out and an extra thank you to everyone who made it to the Small and Independent Press Panel at Bookplate--we were certainly feeling the love. A whopping 47 warm bodies! (as Secretary for the Book Festival, I have access to such statistics) Emily and I had a great time and actually managed to sell 9 books on Saturday--more than I was expecting, to say the least. I hope that soon we will have them available for purchase in Emily's Etsy shop.

We also got to discuss some of the things I write about on this blog: what draws us to printing and bookmaking, what are some problems we have encountered along the way. One well-intentioned audience member even suggested "professional help" for us poor, misunderstood creatures and my answer to that was that working out these problems on our own is part of the thrill of this field of work. I am so happy that we had the chan…

Only three more days to go

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We have now completed 36 books (including their fashionable fabric slipcases). They're so beautiful side by side by side on the shelf, I think. We need to finish the last 14 to complete this edition, but it's alright if they're not done in time for the festival. Hooray for paper, ink, thread and glue!

P.S. This gorgeous fabric came from Buttercuppityfabric's shop on Etsy.

Fall is for festivals

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Emily and I have just about finished the 50 book edition of Sleight, a book of three poems and three paintings.  For the past month we have been sewing and gluing whenever we get the chance.  After the book signatures are sewn together, we then tip-in the prints of Emily's paintings on the assigned pages with small amounts of acid-free adhesive applied to a wide strip along the top of the paintings' reverse side, and glue the fragile end papers to the backs of both the front and back covers.  About 20 of the books are completed, only requiring their protective (and fashionable) fabric slipcases.  We will be presenting our first book project at the Chestertown Book Festival on Saturday, November 14th.  We will be participating in the Small and Independent Press Panel, moderated by local printer-poet Jim Dissette of Chester River Press from 12:00PM-1:30PM in the back room of Bookplate on Cross Street.  Emily and I will be sitting on this panel with our illustrator-author friends…

PMS-197: Girls and Ink

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The Pantone Matching System--not the PMS you were thinking, right? This is the system that assigns numbers to letterpress ink colors (and also identifies the components of standard ink colors that make up each numbered shade or tint). Emily and I finished our printing on Sunday, which required delving into more than just standard black rubber-based ink we've using to print Sleight's text. To print the lovely logo Emily carved on our full title page, we needed two colors. The first and lighter color would be applied to the uncarved linoleum block of the same dimensions as our Thread Lock logo (PMS-197). The second, much darker color would be applied to the carved block (PMS-202)--so the carved-away recesses show up in the first color and the uncarved background in the second. Now the deep maroon ink that is PMS-202 we actually found pre-mixed on Mike's print shop-shelves, but the elusive PMS-197 we had to mix ourselves. Sadly, I am an idiot and forgot to bring my cam…

Thread Lock Press

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We're just about finished printing Sleight now. The only bit left is the run with colored inks (red and pink, we think). That is only on one page though: the full title page. Emily carved a logo design for Thread Lock Press (and Sleight, as the first production from TLP) in a linoleum block--which means we can put this image in the Vandercook and print it just like letterpress type! I can't wait to see how this turns out.

Labor of Love

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Monday was a day of productivity in the Lit House print shop. Emily and I were hard at work on our beloved book project all the cloudy, rainy holiday afternoon. Although our end and cover papers are on backorder, for our text paper we are using a lovely mold-made creamy white German paper that we found in Master Printer Mike Kaylor's personal stores in the print shop and purchased from him. So that was at hand and ready to be printed, as soon as we could cut it down to size: 7.5" x 12". Mike had just had the blade sharpened on his enormous paper guillotine, so he helped us with that. Then we moved the poem type (which had already been set over the last few weeks) to the beautiful Vandercook press that we would be using for printing. We managed to run off all three poems in their batches of 50, except when I got home, I discovered to my disappointment that even though I thought we had thoroughly proofed them, the 50 sheets of "Jack" still managed two delinquent …

Gone Paper-pickin'

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All three poems have been set now. So we shift focus to what they will be printed on (I tried this sentence without ending in a preposition and it just didn't work for me--so excuse the grammatical error). For the text paper, Emily and I searched the bowels of the print shop at the Literary House (Mike always some great extras laying around). We decided on a creamy white handmade paper with soft deckled edges. For the cover and end papers we went to Paper Mojo. They have some absolutely beautiful paper! After ordering some samples and having a look at them in person, we decided on the Mauve Unryu Thread paper for the end papers (figuring that the delicate translucent quality of the paper goes well with our "sleight" theme and the reddish threading follows our color scheme) and the Ivory Linen Cardstock for the cover paper. We will be printing on the covers with a deep red ink (similar to our thread color). Now we are just waiting for our backordered paper picks …

Back-words and Upside Down

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I've been making weekly visits to Mike Kaylor's print shop at the O'Neill Literary House to start working on the Sleight book project. So far I have the type for the first two poems set and have begun setting the type for the last one. Setting type letter by letter by space by punctuation mark is a tedious, slightly disorienting, but oddly relaxing task. Lines of poetry are set in the usual order: from top to bottom, from right to left (on the page)--with type that means that one places the character sorts (pieces of lead type) in this same order, but backwards and upside down on the composing stick. Even the character sorts themselves are the reversals their printed selves. So when searching around in the job case, 'b's look like 'd's, 'd's look like 'b's, 'p's look like 'q's, and 'q's look like 'p's. Sometimes we don't even realize we've switched these letters until we print the first sheet and proof…

Sleight: A Trio of Duets

Emily has finished her beautiful watercolor paintings illustrating my three poems: "Jack," "Queen of Clover," and "Childling King"--and I am in love with them. You can read the poems here, if you wanted. Now it's time to get down to the actual makings of the book. I am so excited!

First, we need a press name. My press name for my solo projects is Goose Hill Press (could've guessed that one, right?); for my projects with Emma it is Chester Cat Press; and I'm still thinking about what to name my collaborations with Emily. Right now, I'm favoring Thread Lock Press, but we'll see what she thinks. And we've already got a title for the book itself. It is to be called Sleight. This title was decided upon because of the many ways in which this word naturally draws upon the themes inherent in the poems and paintings: Sleight as in "sleight of hand" card tricks (as explained in an earlier post, these three poems play with the Calvin…

It's been a while...

So it's now nearly August, my basil plants seem to be thriving and the rosemary is still green. The garlic bulbs have grown shoots and gone a bit brown but they're still too young and small to dig up, so I think harvest-time will come in a few more seasons.

I have also gotten two poetry submissions together for literary magazines. Three poems each, I have submitted one set to Weave magazine, a great small-press magazine to which I just began subscribing; and the second set I plan to submit to Ecotone, a university-press journal (to which I am also a recent subscriber) with the awesome tagline: "reimagining place." How cool is that? I am hopeful but I don't expect publication. We'll see. This may be my lucky break.

I was also recently offered to come aboard the newly-created Chestertown Book Festival, to be known as ChesBookFest. I was nominated to the position of secretary of the official planning committee and I have to say that I am very excited to be a part …

When good garlic goes bad

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it grows? Apparently even my refrigerator is better with botanicals than I am. I've had these huge clumps of garlic that I bought at Super Fresh since last August maybe. I obviously bought more than I needed at the time and so never used that much of it. When I looked in the veggie drawer a while ago, I noticed my garlic had begun to sprout some green. I was at my friend Annie's yesterday and we were looking around in her garden. What I thought were onions, she informed me, were actually little garlic shoots. She said that instead of just throwing out her garlic when it had begun to go green, as mine were, she planted them instead. What an absolutely obvious and wonderful idea! Of course, this had not occurred to me.

So last night, I peeled every single garlic clove in those huge clumps. I now have 32 garlic babies to plant. Wow. And now that I am actually beginning to embrace the cooking-at-home thing, I may actually be able to use what I harvest. Mmmm... and my herb garden ex…

Getting down to business

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Well, the basil and rosemary have been transplanted from their plastic pots to the tiny herb garden by the back door. The only problem I can foresee is that, now that trees have filled out for summer, they might not get as much sun as they want. All my research tells me that both basil and rosemary like LOTS of sun. So, we'll see, I guess. I inherited my mother's brown thumb, so I have a bit of a curse to work against when it comes to nurturing plant life, something I'm hoping to overcome.

I also managed to break out of this latest writing slump. I actually managed to come up with a poem fragment last weekend that, I think, has quite a bit of potential:


Rainy Evening from the Chester River Bridge

Street-light runs down the
riverside like mascara

her inked-up winking
streaked and ...


And that's all I've got so far. But it's something! I feel refreshed now. Maybe I'll even manage a little something this week.

I've also been developing more ideas for the collab…

To-do, to-do, to-do

Inspired by poet-professor Jehanne Dubrow's blog post "Someday Soon", I've decided to create a new list of my personal goals for the near future. I also did this last summer, but with pen and paper, and it really can be helpful:

* to plant (and not kill) the basil and rosemary seedlings I have waiting out back in their temporary containers.

* to write one poem a week even if it's crappy (although I'd rather it be wonderful and fulfilling).

* to get Chester Cat Press started with Emma.

* to find some suitable, non-plastic lawn furniture.

* to make some more pesto (hopefully, with the basil in my tiny herb garden), and pesto mayo. Mmmm...

* to make something tangible of my collaboration with my painter-friend Emily, maybe a handmade chapbook, poems and illustrations, bound with red linen thread. Hmmmm...

* to submit more poems to literary magazines.

* to get my grandmother's 1950s Smith-Corona manual typewriter fixed-up and unstuck so I can use it to type poems and…

There is no such thing as writer's block

So says Neil Gaiman. And I agree with him, but he also clarifies that statement saying that we do in fact get stuck on occasion. It's not as serious a situation as the term "writer's block" suggests with it's clinical sounding name, kind of like "tennis elbow" or "library knee" (which is when the knees audibly crack every time one bends them due to years of book-shelving--so, I made that one up, but I definitely have it). The point is, that kind of hypochondria won't fly around here anymore. But I have been stuck in my writing for quite a few weeks now, which tends to be a bit depressing and frustrating. I think my problem right now is more a lack of focus. I have all this pent up creative energy, this great urge to write, but I am really struggling with the ability to focus this energy on a particular subject. I want to write, but I don't know what I want to write about and that doesn't really do much good. My hope is that…

New friends are like honey in my tea

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Lately, I've been considering the fun of collaboration. My new friend Emily is a painter who has similar obsessions with folk and fairy tales and the like; and right now she's mulling over a few poems of mine to illustrate. I can't wait to see what she imagines visually from my words. Not to mention how flattered I am that she even wanted to use my poems as inspiration. I've often said that one of the reasons I was drawn to poetry as far back as I can remember is that I have no talent for visual art. Poetry allows me to express these often very visual ideas that I have, but with words rather than line and color and texture. I'm excited to see the reverse of this, to see what someone else sees when they read my poetry, to see what I could not draw or paint on my own.


While I'm waiting on that project, I decided I'd try it the other way around: write a poem based on one of Emily's paintings. Ironically enough, I had actually started a poem a few months ago…

Adventures in bibliophilia

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Bookmaking is another activity of mine. Put that together with the writing, reading, letterpress printing, and library-work and I'm a very well-rounded bibliophile. A recent project of mine was making reversible poetry journals. By reversible I mean that the cover art allows for either end to be the front. It could even end up being a two-headed notebook; it's just full of possibilities, as most blank pages are. This "cover art" though is actually segments from "At the Fishhouses" by Elizabeth Bishop (one of my favorites).

Maybe I should introduce myself

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Everything in the apartment is just a bit crooked. The false tile lines in the kitchen linoleum slant into the bottom borders of the cabinets and the sink. The slight diagonal of the light switch in the spare room is exaggerated by the decorative switch plate. And I don't think the ceiling and floor run exactly parallel either. But it's all somehow fitting.

My cat is a found cat. My friends discovered her outside of their dorm and gave her tuna fish and named her Kione (meaning "the one who came from nowhere"). But eventually we had to take this refugee off-campus and my place became her sanctuary. That's been nearly a year and a half ago. Now she's a luxurious housecat, although in some ways she seems to be part dog. She always greets me at the door, she wags her tail when she is in full purr-mode, and she drinks out of the toilet. She's perfect.

We also happen to have a dog lodging with us for the moment. She is (or was) my brother's dog, whom he name…

In the name of poetry

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Not only is April National Poetry Month, it is also the month of my birthday. So exciting. Seriously. I also like to boast every now and then that I share my birthday (April 23rd) with Shakespeare. Granted, I'm sure LOTS of other people have this same birthday, but it makes me feel special sometimes. Oddly enough though, for someone as poetry-obsessed as I am, I don't actually have a favorite poem. I know, weird. Someday I will sit down and think about it and maybe then I'll decide. Or maybe not.

The last word

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Since December I have been working on a particular poetry project. This summer I wrote a poem of which I was really proud called "Jack." It took bits of the Jack and the Beanstalk fairytale and mixed them up with a child learning how to speak. I began with an image and just elaborated on it until I had a bit of story (which seems to be my primary poetry-writing method). But I think it became more than elaborated image when I made a little discovery through the writing of it. I had been stuck for a while smack dab in the middle of the poem; I needed some direction. Then one day it occurred to me: "Fe, fi, fo, fum." What is particularly of note, linguistically-speaking, in this folktale refrain? It contains mono-syllables using all the vowels in alphabetical order (excluding "a," of course). Silly or not, this was the point at which the poem really began to take shape and become one of my favorites:

Jack for little Anna Sovich

Lips full as lima bean pods,a pa…

They call me Chart Girl

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One of the great things about those creative writing workshop classes was that they made you write, even if you didn't feel like it. Now that I'm out of school, I find it hard to create my own writing schedule, and even harder to stick to it. After a long hard think, I realized what part of that problem was about for me: accountability. In class, even creative writing, I had to turn in something even if it wasn't my best work, or I'd get a bad grade. The thing is, when there's no one to expect anything from me (except me), I discover that I am a big push-over and so I don't do my own homework. But then, I feel that awful guilt and uselessness that comes with not-writing; it's a very uneasy state of mind.

Then came: the chart. The objective: write one poem a week, even if it's crappy. By creating a physical log of my writing progress, I've made that accountability a palpable thing demanding evidence of time well spent. It's similar to the power of…

I love daffodils

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But I'm not really a fan of that Wordsworth poem. I don't mean to offend any devoted followers of Romanticism. It's just that the combination of flower-imagery and "dancing" tends to activate my gag reflex. And spring is such an archetypal poetic subject that it's hard to get beyond those, now, very over-used images. But spring, the actual experience of it, never gets old. The period of transition between seasons is always refreshing, though all around is rather vulnerable and exposed. This is a draft of a poem I've been working on the last couple weeks:


March (märchen)

The frogs make their purple sound,
Crocus. Crocus.
with the focus of crickets.
In the rain, the whole
town smells like swamp—
river-thaw and moss-musk.

*****
Well, so far it's just a fragment; but we'll see where it goes.