Friends, I’ve finally entered the letterpressed world. Platypus Press just finished pressing and sewing these beauuutiful books called The Quieting: an anthology of softness and light — ten poets, ten poems. I’m in love with the compression/lightness/texture of this project, and I’m beyond grateful to have been included, and to have received my copy in my mailbox today. My poem “After Leaving, Before Arrival” is about leaving home with my love to head east this summer, about decisions, precipice, and faith.
If you love art, poems, and/or gorgeous objects, I recommend you buy one of these 50 books. They’re $5, and the book will cross an ocean to be yours.
While at WWU for my MFA, I took a class from Brenda Miller on autobiography and photography, which led me to hand-make an accordion book covered in maps, juxtaposing NASA Landsat images of the Mississippi River with family photos and memory vignettes. The WWU MFA program has a “multi-genre” focus, meaning lines usually drawn to separate types of writing and art break down. Bellingham Review, the grad literary journal at WWU, recently opted to open hybrid submissions. As WWU English TAs, we asked our students to expand their concept of a “text.” (Our word “text” comes from the Latin for “to weave”—texere.) Students asked questions about how design and juxtaposition and delivery affect their understanding of a work as a whole.
Earlier this year, Brenda asked me if I might be interested in designing her latest book from Judith Kitchen’s Ovenbird Press, An Earlier Life. As a graduate of the MFA program she helped found, with its focus on hybridity and form, I care even more deeply about words, and I have also come to care deeply about the book or vessel that allows these words to meet their readers.
I read and reread Brenda’s manuscript, and months later I’m still stunned by An Earlier Life‘s accumulation of wild places, sacred moments, aches, and questions. Her book is beautiful, and I was honored to set it to the page. Come celebrate Brenda’s book launch Friday night, 4/15, at Village Books, 7:00 p.m!
Oh, and I’ll read poems Thursday night, 4/14, at Village Books, 7:00 p.m. for Noisy Water‘s almost-final poetry month mega-reading.
Long ago, I offered to make the chapbooks for our local poetry contest because I was newly enamored with book arts; even formatting felt exciting to me. JI Kleinberg, a welcome force on any committee, herded me through rounds of proofing after she had passed me the winning poems. Last summer, she and Luther Allen tapped me to design the book for their Whatcom poetry anthology project through Other Mind Press. They call the collection Noisy Water, after the Lummi word,”Xwotʼqom”, from which “Whatcom” is derived. At the end of last month, we finished shepherding their manuscript of 101 poems into a beautiful book.
Working with each poem, noisy in a different way than the last, tuned me in to linebreaks and line length and stanza length and other formal choices. It was a real gift to spend so much time with every poem, calling up the poet, a friend or at least a neighbor, in my mind as I moved through the design file. I think the result is that each poem has some room to breathe. I hope you find, as you make your way through this book’s pages, that you don’t even notice the design, that you can fully immerse yourself in each poet’s poem.
It’s a stunning collection. You can buy one here, or come to the Village Books reading this Thursday, December 10th, at 7:00 p.m.
I won’t be reading, but many other of our community’s poets will be. If you can’t make it Thursday, Other Mind Press has set up a poetry tour, with no less than six more readings in the new year. No-town-left-behind! (Since one of my poems appears, I’ll read at the Lummi Island reading on February 20, and again at Village Books on April 14.)