impart ink

… an errant studio … letterpress printing and book design …

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In the past couple of months I’ve been busy in the press. The second series of SLUG.DOCS has hit the streets: a trio of chapbooks by fellow candidates in the Creative/Critical concentration of the Literature doctoral program at UCSC. The first set in 2016 was the pair of Clean and Shiny, by Eric Sneathen and Cathy Thomas, respectively. This set consists of On Being Blonde, by Whitney DeVos; VoteforThanatos, by Jared Joseph; and [aphotic], by Kirstin Wagner. The colored stripes were printed from a form of raised wooden furniture painstakingly assembled by Dina , a student at the Cowell Press, with the help of Gary Young. The black stripes are printed from cut linoleum blocks. Typeface is Bodoni.

I also printed the covers for my own book of poems, Provisions, just published by Jason Morris’ PUSH press, with cover art by Joe Ferriso. When Jason first suggested Joe’s work for the cover, he and I both immediately had the same particular painting in mind. Initially, we thought just to have it reproduced on the cover as it was, printed digitally. Then talking to Joe about it, he suggested having a rubber stamp made, instead, and so did another smaller watercolor version, then converted it to a vector image, and I said, why not make a photopolymer plate and print it letterpress? So we did. Typeface is Goudy Oldstyle Italic.

As that was in the works, Carlos Suarez, Argentinian poet and scholar (his dissertation was a Jungian interpretation of Julio Cortázar’s incomparable Rayuela, translated by the great Gregory Rabassa as Hopscotch), hired me to design and produce a volume of his poetry, entitled RIVERMARKS. I used some weathered blocks of wood, kindly provided by Gary Young, to print the design. Typeface is Libra. He’ll be reading from it at Bird & Beckett Books on Sunday, July 9th, and 2 pm, if you’d like to check it out.

All the while, I’d been working on the next Bird & Beckett book: a set of drawings and poem notations by J Grabowski, entitled Time Landscape. More on this one in a bit, as he’ll be coming out to SF from his beautifully humble abode on Manhattan Island in August, reading from the book, and showing some art in the back room Gallery Ex Libris at the bookshop. Mark your calendars for the evening of Tuesday, August 8th for that. Details TBA.

Last and by no means least, I’ve been working on a series of prints using the same ornaments I used for the cover of Sunnylyn Thibodeaux’s What’s Going On. I’ve been deeply immersed in these forms, and hope to have a show of the prints I’ve been producing sometime, but for now, here’s a peak. These range in size from 5.25″ square to 10.5″ square to 6.5″x22″ with others in the works…

What’s Going On

Today I sewed the first copy of Sunnylyn Thibodeaux’s What’s Going On, the latest chapbook from Bird & Beckett. The remainder of the edition remains to be sewn and the volumes trimmed, but I’m so happy to be putting this one out that I thought I’d go ahead and post a few images and make it available to purchase now (available January 1st). Stay tuned for a release reading early in the new year.

The cover design is hand-set from 252 pieces of various sets of Bradley ornaments — though it seems one of these sets may not be from “Bradley”, but some other design(er) — printed on the front in blue and on the back in black. The typeface on the cover is Weiss, and on the title page Weiss and Palantino, in which the rest of the text is set as well.

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Amerarcana/Shuffle Boil #7

This fall I’ve had precious little time to print, but I have managed to get a couple of projects underway, one of which came to fruition this week when I received 8 boxes of the 7th issue of my roughly annual magazine, AMERARCANA: A Bird & Beckett Review, which was guest edited this time around by poets David Meltzer and Steve Dickison, erstwhile editors of SHUFFLE BOIL: A Magazine of Poets and Music, which ran four single issues (#1-4) from winter 2002 through fall 2003, with a double issue (#5/6) following in 2006, all published under Dickison’s Listening Chamber imprint. Another issue was planned, and some materials gathered, but it never came to be. Since 2010, a few pieces slated for publication therein have made their way into one or another of the first six issues of AMERARCANA; however, what appears here was gathered newly over the last several months. This, then, is #7 of both magazines: 160 pages bound in wrappers designed and printed from hand-set lead type once belonging to William Everson (aka Brother Antoninus) in Santa Cruz, CA. I used Goudy Thirty and Goudy Newstyle for the titles “Amerarcana” and “Shuffle Boil” respectively, shuffling the letters of one title into and out of the other (or vice versa), so in the top and bottom lines the letters alternate, and at center they’re fully separate. The different faces and the ligatures of the Newstyle made it a little more difficult than anticipated, and there’s one wee typo I somehow missed in proofs, but I’m pretty happy with the result. Printed on Fawn Stonehenge paper in blue and brown ink. The interior layout is all in Goudy Oldstyle. Get one here.
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I’ve also printed covers and laid out the text for a chapbook of poems by Sunnylyn Thibodeaux, entitled What’s Going On, to be published in January. For the covers, I arranged 252 pieces of Bradley ornaments of various designs to create a pattern measuring 5.25″ square, printed in blue on the front cover and in black on the back, with title, etc., in Weiss. I’ll post pictures when the sewing is done, but for now, here’s the form:

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These gorgeous bits of lead have really excited me, and I’ve begun to toy with other possibilities. There may be whole series of prints soon, so if you dig it, stay tuned.

Recent Projects

I’ve been (un)reasonably busy of late, but/and have done a few things in the press. As a parting gift for Jackson Meazle, who has left our fair cities for some other, Southern clime, I printed this broadside of a poem for his grandmother.

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I also printed a pair of broadsides, commissioned by Matt Gonzalez, to celebrate the birthday of Tamsin Smith, the first in two color schemes, the second in one.

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Also, recently completed, are a couple/few small books. The layered sepia design here serves as the back cover for a little book of poems Jason Morris and I wrote on a recent camping trip to Death Valley. He’s done a water color for the front, a nicely gnarled Joshua tree.

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These are the first two in a new series of pamphlets called Slug.Docs, featuring work by candidates in the Creative/Critical concentration of the doctoral program in Literature at UC Santa Cruz. The titles are entirely coincidental. Clean by Eric Sneathen; and Shiny by Cathy Thomas.

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I also printed covers for another small chapbook of poems by Eric Sneathen, I feel like an allien (sic), which he is putting out in a small edition himself, and covers for a larger chapbook by Derek Fenner, Hermeticities & Others, which he is putting out in a larger edition under his Bootstrap imprint.

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Oh, and lastly, this sort of sigilated number print, “o-n-e” through “n-i-n-e” arranged and printed, rotated and printed again, rotated and printed again, rotated and printed a fourth time, all in black, then “z-e-r-o” done similarly in red:

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A and I

I produced two more prints recently (“A : a” and “i : i : i”) as I continue my experiments with wood type at the Cowell Press on the UCSC campus.

“A : a” was made from a single type arrangement, printed once, then turned 45 degrees and printed again, giving it the cascade effect. The coloring was done by putting one color on one half of the rollers and another on the other and allowing them to mix as I printed. (10″x12-1/2″ – edition of 12 on Domestic Etching)

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“i : i : i” was made from a large wood type arrangement printed once, rotated 90 degrees and printed again in the same sepia tone. A lead type arrangement was then printed in red, rotated and printed again, then again, and again. (12″x12″ – edition of 10 on Domestic Etching)

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AMERARCANA issue SIX

At the tail end of summer I printed the covers for the sixth issue of my roughly annual literary magazine, AMERARCANA: A Bird & Beckett Review. I set the titles in Bulmer and used the back of wood type to form the grained block pattern. After a few delays getting the final interior text file to the printer, it has at last been bound, and is now available. The official release reading and celebration will take place at Bird & Beckett Books, in San Francisco, on Wednesday, December 9th at 7 pm. This issue features art by Will Yackulicand writing by Garrett Caples, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Derek Fenner, Jackqueline Frost, Evan Kennedy, Frank Lima, Jason Morris, Rod Roland, Aaron Shurin, Cedar Sigo, Syd Staiti, Richard Tagett, Tara Thomas, and the editor, along with translations of Hafez by Patrick James Dunagan and Ava Koohbor.

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Further vowels

Continuing my work at the Cowell Press, (taking a cue from the previous print “o : O : o”) I used large lowercase wooden “e”s to make a sort of pinwheel/flower and small uppercase wooden “e”s to make a square/lattice, printing each in grey, turning 90 degrees to print again in grey, then swapped their positions and repeated that process in blue, yielding this set of two inverted, inset/overprinted squares: “e : E” (9-1/2″x20″ – edition of 12 on Domestic Etching).

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