Continued Project Notes

Poem F

  • Repetition of destruction, space
  • Otherworldly
  • Cycles—ones that inevitably happen or happen again and again
  • Sharpness under the smoothness
  • Implantation of a sharp mood—whether change or no

Poem G

  • Unification
  • “Grossness,” animal eating animal
  • Just under the surface danger or violence
  • Artic foxes can’t see or smell rodent prey, they must stand and listen for their prey
  • Snowblind and sound driven
  • Cryptic—is the fox the one that now has wings? Ears as wings?
  • Rime= frost, crust
  • Sharp, intense, hidden sharpness, the rime as dangerous even
  • Confidence—strength of the leap
  • Forbodence, constant underlying threat of danger dancing between the lines of danger and safety
  • Artic fox as a metaphor for the cold

Possible layout ideas: To what degree do we want to set apart the sections?

  • Three different sections: cold, astronomy, Icelandic/Scandinavian culture
  • A specific set of art books maybe? With each section as its own “mini book”

Poem H

  • Claustrophobia, the beauty of your own enclosed space
  • The sky is heavy and small
  • Containers
  • Survival
  • Hoarding food so that I can eat later
  • Rotten seal meat? A culture of keeping food while you have it
  • Reverence for animals
  • A very cultural poem
  • Practical and mythical application of animals and fruit
  • Wild plum= fast growing, short lived, colony tree. Like grapes
  • Fruit, abundance. Meat, scarcity
  • Strangeness, uncomfortable, scary, violence, of an overfull barrel of seal meat
  • Our abusive nature of food

Poem I

  • Science and study
  • Scientific expedition mood
  • Intensity and assurance of oneself, begins as a question but ends with a period
  • The earth as a thief
  • Thinking about language as something analogous to the mechanisms as a barometer
  • Barometer gives pressurized feeling—connection to previous poem
  • Rhetorical question inspiring confidence
  • “Argot of thieves” Language of thieves, pressure to understand and adhere to the truth of the original manuscript
  • Idea of translator or poet as thief
  • Swinging from extreme to extreme

Poem J

Poem K

  • Juxtaposition of small versus large
  • Snow globes
  • Pointy moon, beam of light
  • Thrusting into privacy and enclosure
  • Consider altering “one soul of me”
  • Angular lines of houses and moons contrasted with shape of breath
  • Extreme theme of contraries constantly at play
  • Tension, paradoxes, opposites

Poem L

  • Infernal memory of the woman lost
  • Purpose
  • Forced containment, buried alive?
  • Chaos and order, how the sea is chaotic, and the land is more ordered and structured
  • The person as a landscape and the chaos and structure informing each other
  • Height
  • Illusion, seeing absence
  • Fjallagras: moss
  • Blodberg: creeping thyme
  • Metaphorical burial, self-confinement
  • A burial of syntax, closing each sentence
  • Mixing of Icelandic with English

Cover Design: Different translations of cold on the cover to honor both Icelandic and English interactions

  • The look of the Icelandic word
  • Different meanings of the word cold
  • Translations: English, Icelandic, and old Norse?
  • English cold could be very saturated and bright and fade out for the Icelandic and old Norse
  • Letterpress blank print impressions with no ink—silent text, white blanket
  • Lots of stark, dramatic white, invisible pressings of foxes or other images connected to poem
  • An actual letterpress, embossed cover
  • Pressed without ink or only having ink in part of it

Intermixing of cultures, extends to self and nature and relation between cultures

Cold: trying to protect yourself from something that goes straight to your bones

Ghostly apparitions of ice, snow, and fog

A Vast, Blinding Cold

I love the specific focus on the type of “cold” that feels prevalent throughout Meg Matich’s manuscript. This gave all the poems a nice feeling of continuity while reading them. Like many other people have already expressed, Matich’s cold theme conjured up a variety of images and colors in my mind. Specifically, a very blinding, bright, icy white feeling. Reading the poems felt a lot like standing in a wide-open field on a particularly sunny winter day. I felt very chilled and squinty from the vast, white image of the field of snow and the bright imaginary sunshine—almost dazed while trying to absorb all the detail in the poems around me. As such, I’ve created a compilation of colors and images to illustrate the way I think of Matich’s poems.

Overall, when I imagine the bright white images in Matich’s poems, I can almost physically feel the cold that she is speaking of. Through this, Matich eloquently evokes a response from her readers, which further adds to the vivid richness of her writing. It’ll be exciting to see how the final publication develops from the individual thoughts and responses of all the class members involved with the project.

Creative/Critical Response #2: Further Study of Burning Deck Press

Burning Deck Press is a space for experimental poetry as well as translation from both French and German. Despite the avant-garde nature of its poetry, Burning Deck’s aesthetic clearly prizes content over form. The way the type is aligned on the page may initially give Burning Deck books a somewhat simple appearance, but it is this simplicity that draws the reader deeper into the richness of the poetry at hand.

I chose to look at two different Buning Deck publications: Michael Donhauser’s Of Things and Lisa Jarnot’s Some Other Kind of Mission. Both texts have numerous qualities that make them unique works of art and showcase Burning Deck’s captivating style.

The book by Donhauser is the simplest of the two, illustrating Burning Deck’s more “classical typography” style (Schlesinger 19). All the poems are categorized into three sections- Winter: Spring, Spring: Summer, and Summer: Fall. The text itself is set in a typical, left aligned format, which allows for the words of the poems to really take effect. Translated from German, each poem is a beautiful description of various things in nature that fits the overall theme of the poem. In this collection, Burning Deck’s preference of content over form is quite apparent.

[Image Description] The covers of two Burning Deck publications. On the left is Michael Donhauser’s “Of Things,” and on the right is Lisa Jarnot’s “Some Other Kind of Mission.”

Of experimental texts Rosmarie Waldrop says, “The more experimental the text, the more clearly I want to define the space of the page (Schlesinger 19).” This is evidenced in Lisa Jarnot’s Some Other Kind of Mission through the way that the pages of the book are left mostly blank. This slightly more experimental approach could very well be the inspiration behind my own blackout poem pictured below. My print was already created before the writing this post; however, I think the project fits well with the style of Jarnot’s text. This piece has a slightly less traditional layout, with pieces of the text set next to images of blackout poems and other small art pieces. Overall, the combination of textual layout and the visuals is a great showcase of Burning Deck’s experimental side.

[Image Description] The Print of my Blackout Poem. The poem is as follows: light, music, and harmony/masterpieces of symmetry/revealing structure/in all the faces of space.

In a way, my poem is a combination of both styles of the Burning Deck books I chose to look at. The form is reflective of the blackout poems present in Jarnot’s piece, and the content is reflective of the natural imagery of Donhauser’s poems. Unlike many Burning Deck publications my poem places form over content; however, it still fits within the press’s creative mold as a piece of visually simplistic poetry. As a result, I unknowingly creating a somewhat Burning Deck-esque print a little while before I even learned about the press.

I’ve said something similar in a different post about letterpress, but there’s something truly special about the products of letterpress publishing. It’s the care and work put into the production of each piece that adds so much value. Evidence of this comes from Burning Deck’s note on the very last page of Jarnot’s text that says, “This book was typeset in 10 pt. Palatino by Rosmarie Waldrop… There are 1000 copies, of which 50 are signed by the author.” Reading this inscription made the book feel even more like an intimate little treasure I was able to find, which is one of the many reasons I am fascinated by letterpress.

Works Cited

Donhauser, Michael. Of Things, translated by Nick Hoff and Andrew Joron,Burning Deck Press, 2015.

Jarnot, Lisa. Some Other Kind of Mission, Burning Deck Press, 1996.

“Kieth and Rosmarie Waldrop: Burning Deck Press,” 2012. A Poetics of the Press, edited by Kyle Schlesinger, Cuneiform Press & Ugly Duckling Press, 2021, pp. 14-23.

Exploring Burning Deck Press

Operating for nearly sixty years, Burning Deck Press is a small independent publisher that specializes in poetry and short fiction works. It also does translation work with French poets and German writers. Because of the economics of letterpress printing, Burning Deck mainly uses the letterpress method for smaller chapbooks and larger works are printed on offset presses. As a result, the press is able to adopt some of the modern elements of publishing while still preserving the historic process of letterpress printing.

One thing especially interesting about Burning Deck Press is the way it selects the poetry it will publish. In an interview with Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop who own the press, interviewer Kyle Schlesinger brings up two distinct poetry categories: beat and academic poets. Here, he points out that Burning Deck doesn’t necessarily adhere to one side of this divide, rather, they publish whatever poetry they find particularly interesting despite whatever category it fits in to. Rosmarie Waldrop remarks that as time has progressed, “the terms have changed to the vaguer ‘avant-garde’ and ‘traditional,’ but the division still exists” (16). This makes Burning Deck so unique because its publications don’t strictly adhere to one type of poetry, making the press’s publishing interesting to a wider audience.

[Image Description] Two of the covers of Burning Deck’s publications. Image taken from their website

The aesthetic of the books that Burning Deck produces adheres more to a classical typography style, rather than a more artistic approach that many letterpress publishers like to take. On this subject Rosmarie says, “We have been interested in presenting texts rather than in playing with or experimenting with the printing process… Camp Printing is an exception. While printing a chapbook by James Camp I accidentally overprinted a page and liked the result” (19). While Burning Deck’s style is simple, it chooses to emphasize the text in the book over the artistic display element.

Work Cited

“Kieth and Rosmarie Waldrop: Burning Deck Press,” 2012. A Poetics of the Press, edited by Kyle Schlesinger, Cuneiform Press & Ugly Duckling Press, 2021, pp. 14-23.

Burning Deck Press website.  Burning Deck Press Accessed Oct. 26, 2021.

A Trip to Meshwork Press

Visiting Haylee Ebersole’s shop at Meshwork Press was definitely a new and exciting experience for me. Timed just after the screening of the Letterpress Film last week, it was interesting to have the chance to actually do some of the things shown in the film. I quickly found out that the process of typesetting is not an easy or efficient one, but it is also one that helps to promote a direct relationship with the text printer is creating.

My partner and I constructed a simple card containing our names, but the multiple lines of text we used added an extra level of difficulty to our task. It took a lot of time and care to figure out the leading we wanted for the lines, and even extra care to select the right sizes of furniture to set all of the type firmly in place in the frame. The process involved a lot of trial and error and was a little frustrating when we finally managed to fit everything together only to find out that I misspelled my name, but in the end, everything worked out and we were able to print a pretty cool piece that I was happy with.

[Image Description] The two letterpress cards printed by myself and my partner on the project, Madi. Photo taken by myself

While the letterpress process clearly isn’t all that efficient, I believe that many small presses such as Meshwork continue to hold on to the art of letterpress because of the connection with the type and text that comes from such a physical printing process. A major part of letterpress is individually selecting, placing, and designing the way you want the type to look. Doing this during my visit to the press made me feel attached, in a way, to the project I was creating. The actual text on the page was just our names, but if I had done something similar on a computer, I wouldn’t have found it as meaningful. There’s just something about creating something from your own hands that really enhances the product, which is what letterpress studios aim to preserve.

Overall, my first experience with letterpress revealed a lot to me about how the method of printing can drastically change one’s relationship to their work. Because of this, it is important that letterpress technology and studios be preserved so this type of printing doesn’t become obsolete. Haylee’s studio was a fantastic way to experience this technology and method of printing, and if you want to know more about it, I highly encourage you to check out her website linked here.

Preserving Letterpress- Pressing on: The Letterpress Film

The film Pressing On (linked here) explores the method of letterpress printing and all the people behind it that are painstakingly working to preserve this medium. It was these people running the presses who stood out the most to me throughout the film because of their evident passion for the craft. The organizers of these small print shops run out of basements and garages are completely devoted to the entire process of letterpress—from the physical process of printing to the design of the type. Because of this, it is clear that both the physical and design components are necessary for letterpress printing; a thorough understanding of one enhances the other.

The film’s interviewees also discussed the importance of preserving the legacy of printing. Letterpress is a trade, and as such, it must be passed down from generation to generation by teaching and experience. Because of the physical aspects of the press, it’s not something that can be entirely taught in school, and without the hands-on aspect of legacy printing, it will ultimately become a lost art. Having members of younger generations who are excited to learn from skilled older generations works to preserve the intricate innerworkings of the press that are only learned through experience.

[Image Description] A case of individual pieces of hand set metal type used in letterpress to make the designs on the print. Image taken from The Paper Assembly website

Like older technology, printing presses are often tucked away in basements because many people don’t know how to use them. One of the small independent printmakers in the video explained that many of their presses are from people who had them but weren’t sure what to do with them. So, instead of letting the presses go unused and forgotten, they rescued them to be used. Technology such as these presses should be preserved in a way that grants them use so as to preserve the art of letterpress. If presses continue to be left in basements or stored in museums, the method of letterpress publishing will find itself obsolete. Letterpress is an important part of printmaking that shouldn’t be forgotten about, and it’s up to our generation to preserve it.

Works Cited

Pressing On: The Letterpress Film, 2017, Accessed 12 October 2021.

The Paper Assembly, Accessed 12 October 2021.

Lifelines: A Creative/Critical Response

When making my accordion book, I wanted it to function both as a traditional book and as an artist book. It’s traditional in the way that the accordion folds form pages that can be flipped through the same way one would flip the pages of a textbook, it has a front and back cover, a title, and text and images that make up a story. However, it also functions as an artist book through the way that the content within it is “interrogated and integrated into the way the work makes meaning” (Borsuk 115). The form of the book allows it to be read in a variety of different ways, which can enhance of distract from the overall meaning of the piece. The artist book form serves as a reminder that books are not merely static outlets to share information from. Rather, they can be “a negotiation, a performance, [or] an event” that invites the reader in a way that reminds them of their role in its content (Borsuk 147).

[Top Image] The front side of my accordion book. [Botton Image] The back side of my accordion book. Both pictures taken by author.

The concept behind my book is to explore the themes of connection and relationship through those in my life that are part of my present as well as my past and future. These relationships are represented through a variety of lines, with mine being highlighted in red and the lines of those around me in black. Each line comes from an image of someone who is connected to me in some way: great grandparents, grandparents, parents, sister, cousins, old friends, new friends, and so on. In keeping with the color scheme of the older images of my grandparents and great grandparents I decided to reduce the saturation of the more modern images, which allows my lifeline to stand out more prominently. The redness of my line almost functions as a vein of blood inside the other entanglements evoking a sense of being alive.

A second angle of the book, showing another way it can be read. Photo by author

The content within the accordion book reflects the deeper desires that every person has for connection. Human beings are social creatures, and as such, we long to be close to those around us in some capacity. The themes present within my book seek to capture the chaotic knot of the ever-evolving relationships present within our lives. We are all connected to so many people around us, and the images and text of the book encourages those who read it to contemplate their own lifelines and the paths they have taken.

The form of the accordion book highlights the intimacy and sentiment of the content, which is best expressed when the book is fully expanded to reveal the continuous lifeline that stretches across the entire project, never breaking even when it continues onto the other side. These concepts are further realized by the language of the text which explores the relationship and intimacy the lines convey. Artists books such as my accordion book utilize all the book elements to convey meaning, forcing the reader to redefine their concept of the book. In the chapter “The New Art of Making Books,” Amaranth Borsuk discusses Ulises Carrion’s concept of the “bookwork” as “a conceptual approach to book making, and one that relies on the viewer’s interactions with the object to make meaning” (Borsuk 145). These kinds of artist books “separate the idea of the book from the object,” allowing for a richer interpretation of the content as a whole, which is what the strategic integration of content and form in my book aimed to accomplish (Borsuk 145).

Work Cited

Borsuk, Amaranth. The Book. Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2018. 

“The Cards We Were Dealt”

The Women’s Studio Workshop artist book collection (linked here) is filled with amazing pieces, and among them is one by Kingston High School Senior Art Seminar Students titled “The Cards We Were Dealt.” This book object has a variety of different features that makes it stand out from the rest, namely the way the content is displayed as a deck of playing cards.

According to the description from the students presented on the WSW website, the inspiration for the project came from the face cards in a traditional deck of playing cards which represent the hierarchy of medieval societies. The students took this idea further to create a book object depicting the hierarchy of the modern society we live in today. As a result, the book object created by the Kingston High School students parallels a traditional deck of cards while making a statement about the roles we fill today.

[Image Description] Some of the cards present within the project. Kingston High School Senior Art Seminar Students, 2021.

The book object itself really challenges the traditional conceptions of the book. The project lacks many of the features commonly attributed to books, with each “playing card” consisting of two panels connected together to house the content in the inside—similar to the structure of a folder. The front of each “folder” depicts the images present on a traditional deck of cards, while the back contains their modern counterparts. The cards then can be stacked on top of each other to represent the class systems and hierarchies we find within modern society.

[Image Description] The cards displayed in their hierarchal stacking structure. Kingston High School Senior Art Seminar Students, 2021.

This piece stood out to me the most because I would never initially think of it as a type of book. Instead, I more likely would view it as a sort of statement piece far removed from the book world. However, as I discover more book objects and become accustomed to ways artists challenge familiar concepts, it’s easier to see projects such as “The Cards We Were Dealt” as incredibly creative and inspiring combinations of art and literature.

Work Cited:

Kingston High School Senior Art Seminar Students. (2021). The Cards We Were Dealt. Women’s Studio Workshop. Retrieved September 28, 2021, from

From Folds to Book

Our current class project is to make an accordion book, which differs from the traditional idea of the book through the way the pages are formed by folding a long piece of paper in an accordion style shape. Here is a link to a blog showing a cool example of a finished book. My book is still in the very beginning stages of its creation, and the process of that creation is a very fun one to be a part of.

I wanted my book to carry a more personal connection, so I decided to center it around the idea of relationships and connectedness—specifically the relationships in my own life. The current plan is to add various pictures of the people connected to me in some way, including people such as my great-grandparents or friends I don’t see all that often anymore. The blank space of the pages surrounding the pictures will feature an entanglement of continuous lines representing each person’s connection to me. My own line will stand out to red, while the lines of others will appear in black ink.

A photo of my folded book taken by me

I’m incredibly sentimental and have a habit of saving every single handwritten letter ever given to me, so I decided to include a few of the letters from my “collection” in the accordion book as well. It is my hope that the letters will make the book all the more personal to me. I even had to involve my mother in the project since all the photos and letters are at my house back in my hometown and I’m here at college.

Some of the photographs I plan to use in my project, photo taken by me.

Even though I’ve only been working on the accordion book project for a few days, it has already begun to challenge my perception of the book. Books can be any type of codex, not just the traditional novel that immediately comes to mind when I hear the word “book.” In my case, a book can be as simple as pages of lines and photographs.

A Reflection on Japanese Stab Binding

The bookbinding process took me back to elementary and middle school when I would spend the day eagerly awaiting art class because of the chance to make something that was my own. College has afforded me few opportunities to do this, so there was something rather nostalgic and relaxing about this assignment.

As a self-proclaimed bibliophile, the chance to make my own book felt exciting, as the assignment allowed me to create the entire book from beginning to end. I was able to tear the page shapes, create the template, add the holes, and sew the binding. The tutorial I used is linked here. All of this came together to create my very own book, and the process was so fun to see.

I also enjoyed observing the creations of those around me. Each book was unique and creative in its own way, which showed a lot about each person’s creative space. Seeing the different books was like looking at individual concepts and ideas as a physical creation, and it was interesting to see how other concepts of the stab binding book differed from my own. I ended up learning a lot about the concept of the book just by looking at the work of my classmates, which was somewhat surprising.

A photo of my completed project taken by me

Unlike the creative work of some of my classmates, my book is rather simple. The binding itself doesn’t stray very far from that of the book in the tutorial and I chose not to take very many artistic liberties. Despite this, I love my humble little book simply because I made it and its mine. There’s something rewarding about creating, and I found myself completely immersed in the creative process. The process of Japanese stab binding helped transform the book into something familiar and attainable by allowing me to be part of the book’s creation, and as a result, my own concept of the book is beginning to transform.