This began as a class. We distilled it into a book. I wanted my Advanced Poetry Workshop to get their hands dirty with language, and print their own work. I was interested in how the act of typesetting affects composition. I was interested in that too! How writing a poem changes when you don’t have the endless convenience of digital media. How the process of typesetting is a time of reflection and editing. So we hatched a plot. An apple basket full of 19th century wood engravings had been donated to the Book Arts Center. The artists were unknown. The purpose was unknown. They seemed ripe for ekphrasis: creating new art, in language, in response to these image/objects. Each poet selected a block. Some reacted to the figures depicted, others to the blocks themselves. In either case, they had to respond with materiality, handling and assembling individual words. The book is completely collaborative. We conceived of it together, and the poets revised each other’s initial, digital drafts. Together, they decided on typefaces and a unified layout. They accepted the limitations of space and learned the fundamentals of letterpress composition. When it came time to pick a title for the collection, the group’s choice for the best cover stock delivered the answer: Mohawk 80lb Carnival Persian Blue Vellum. Each poet worked into several nights setting, revising, and printing their poems to meet the deadlines. One evening’s mantra: “Kill us, Dan.” But they didn’t have to print their work in two colors. This book is chaos contained in a unified form. Ultimately, what we present here is a single vision in multiple voices.
Richard Kegler and Dan Rosenberg
The origin of the wood engravings is still unknown, but the poems give them a new life.
This chapbook was created in the spring of 2017 using the
resources of the Wells Book Arts Center. The typefaces
used are Perpetua, designed by Eric Gill and cast at the
Bixler Letterfoundry in 2017, and Obelisk, designed
by Herman Ihlenberg and cast at the Johnson
Type Foundry circa 1881. The illustrations
were printed from wood engravings
from the Father Thomas
Of the 75 copies, this is No.__
Copies of the book can be ordered at the Wells College Press online shop