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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

Project Notes: Chapbook Visualizing and Brainstorming

Mood-board focuses…

  • Ominous, doom, looming
  • Space, cramping, vastness, extremes of scale
  • Shattering, breaking, remolding
  • Snowflakes, crystals, fractals
  • Microscopic, intricate
  • Cosmic, universes, seas, skies, moons
  • Dust, rust, rot, disuse – a vast space that is not being used
  • Rawness, elemental – fire, ice, water, dirt, building something from primary elements
  • Mixing of natural and unnatural, blending of old and new
  • Stretching nature to the extremes where it becomes unnatural
  • Delicacy, fragility, timidity, ice, wind
  • Quiet, walking through winter woods, blowing on the breeze, fresh-fallen snow
  • Astronomy, spacey, extraterrestrial, otherworldly, immersion
  • Seeing the unseen and yet seeing its vastness, vastness in a small space
  • Progressive meditation, move from messiness and contradiction and enmeshment to resolution
  • Inner proceeding to the outward, illumination from within to outside
  • Pangs, coming to newness, integration, harmony
  • Unbundled, unsheltered
  • Encased, smashed open, growing inward
  • Glacial, distance, isolation
  • Specificity, sharpness, acerbic, wind-chopped, crispness
  • Poems placed on the pages like snowflakes, smooth texture like glaciers
  • Ecopoetics and an ecopoetic distinction with non-nature as an outlier and yet also an interconnected part of everything


  • Something thinner, lighter, and neither too sharp nor too blunt
  • Serif adds an elegant frozen feel, giving it crystal edges while also enclosing the vastness and blocking it in
  • Ideas: Didot, Palatino, Syntax, Caslon, Baskerville, Sabon
  • Perhaps an entangled, “handwritten,” type font for the cover


  • Poems as snowflakes in the layout – and the rest of the space white
    • Keeps the messy, stream of consciousness feel while keeping it focused
  • Small font emphasizes the smallness
    • But, larger book size emphasizes the vastness by preserving the whitespace
  • Extremes – big, bold, uppercase of the title and the small lowercase of the author’s name, separated by the vastness and the divide of the whitespace


  • Something with a recycled quality but not a recycled color – more a cool undertone
  • Paper that is not noisy, but if you step on it, it will crunch
  • A base color with “feature sheets” – a pale blue/gray base with fibers, recycled qualities, and then a few red center sheets to vocalize the extremes (not a bright red, a dried red/orange) in a semi-circular pattern (vis-à-vis geodes, volcanoes, a wildness exploding beyond rigid control, etc.) – a “survival” feel of dried blood

Color and Cover

  • “Slightly less black” – not gray, but something navy-ish for the font
    • Gradient throughout the pages – starting light and moving dark, or perhaps, starting dark and moving light
  • Demarcation of “Cold” title being very dark and then fading the color of the text out from there throughout the pages of the book
  • Visual of the geode on the back cover, but positioned so that its identity as a geode is ambiguous

Form of Printing…

  • Letterpress imprint for the cover
  • Blank impressions for line images, such as snowflakes

Edition in General…

  • Overlay the poems with a frosty layer of a vellum page with images and/or Icelandic words (from the manuscript) – honoring that this book is a responsive book to a place and to a translation
  • Framing the water poems by printing them in light ink on dark paper, set off from the white paper by the vellum paper of the image pages
  • A simple stab binding with either blue or red string
  • Icelandic as a ghost-like, backgrounding note throughout the book

The Elements

I am beyond excited to have the opportunity to work with my small press publishing class on a manuscript finalist submission that we will be turning into a personalized book. This is an amazing opportunity for the author of the manuscript and the student who get to design and publish this author’s work. In reading through Meg Matich’s manuscript, I felt a recurring theme surrounding the elements grab my attention. Some of the poems within Matich’s manuscript appeal to the properties of air and water, while others appeal to the earth and fire. Interestingly, I found a unique connection to the four basic elements that essentially make up everything on earth-within Matich’s single manuscript. Essentially, I decided to construct a mood board composed of various digital images, materials, and other design elements that collectively come together to symbolize our next project surrounding Meg Matich’s manuscript and its creation into a book.

I decided to incorporate a series of photographs that are related specifically to Saint Vincent College because this book project was made possible by a Saint Vincent sponsor who believed in publishing authors from the SVC community and wanted to continue this tradition for many years to come.

I also found this really fun and creative website that discusses how to write a poetry book.

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.

The Sting of the “Cold”

In reading through Meg Matich’s poetry, I’ve had a consistent sense of dread and discomfort. Most of the poems either chronicle the perspective of someone who is living in torment in their solitary, icy world or speak to the reader of this doomy life with a threatening spirit. With winter around the corner, these words of sorrow took form in stinging tingles along the length of my arms, as if I were walking in a blizzard with only the T-shirt and shorts I wore in my room as I read the poems. True kudos to Meg Matich, because it’s been a while since an unfamiliar author affected me in such a way.

In my entranced state, everything Matich described in these poems sent sensations to my nerves according to the subjects in question. When reading ‘summer waters… push beneath the ice’ in Solarium I would unconsciously feel a pain erupting in my stomach, as if the pain was the water and the walls of my stomach were the ice. Even when reading about the opposite of cold gave me freezing splashes. In Kiln, for example, reading of how an island mysteriously formed from lava gave me the illusion of my skin crusting around my body. I felt weak.

Visuals that entered my mind as I read Matich’s poems, by ARTsbyXD and ulleo respectively from Pixabay

This may be overreaching, even for a class like this, and it could very well be purely suggested from the emotionally vulnerable position I was under, but even the spacing and organization of the text printed on the papers and the gray rectangle to the right of the page contributed as some sort of subconscious gloomy visual. Perhaps the blank space served as a clearing for the visions of miserable blizzards and the ravenous animals that live in frigid spots.

There was one poem that was like an antidote to these bitter sensations, and that was Tibra. Somehow, the visual of a geode cracking open transitioned beautifully to the soothing writings of sleeping and being rocked by the lake. It may have served as a relief from the visual of the water pushing the water from earlier. The ice breaks, the pain is gone, and I’m willing to find motivation again.

“Cold” Moodboard and Images

Unlike a lot of the other students, I kept seeing very specific physical images rather than the deeper mental feelings that the words produced. For example, for E, I kept seeing rocky beaches on a windy, gray day, or for F I could only picture an elk or reindeer staring back at someone in the middle of a starry, snow-filled night. I tried to collect some of the images that I saw/ felt whilst reading through the manuscript.

Ideas from Meg Matich’s Poems

While reading Matich’s poems, these were some recurring words and themes that came to mind:

“Underpurposed,” actually a word from Sanctuary, Appalachia, but the idea of things out of use, untouched, neglected recurs in Piano and FF (“marquetry verdigris’d/on clinquant gadgets”). Also words like “miraculously old” (J), “brittles” (W), “petrified” (M), and “fossils” (N).

Violence; the natural world is dynamic and forceful. “cliffs/crumbling” (V), water pushing up against the ice until it’s forced apart (U), ice brittle and cracked “from years/of bracing/in a fist” (W).

Avalanches (F) and volcanic activity (R) are two of the violent natural events mentioned in these poems. (Left: Right:

I also read a theme of a resistance or impasse, almost as an opposite to the violence and motion in a couple of these poems. Widerruf especially, with its waiting, its “gaps,” and a need for resolution; “widerruf” also means “revocation,” which implies a loss, resistance, and a pause (e.g. if your license is revoked, you stop driving). That inertia also appears in G (the arctic fox one); I think of a fox leaping in and out of the snow, and there’s a little pause between each bound where an effort must be made to escape the drift. The word “stiffen” also contributes to that sense of stuck-ness.

Matich’s poems also share a compact, narrow form. They have short lines, and the longer poems extend downwards like icicles or fissures. Because these poems are so compact, it’s possible to leave a lot of negative space on the page when printing them, which would play into the wide, spatial motif that runs through many of these poems.

On the other hand, some of these poems feel more claustrophobic: the “small sky” of poem H, and the cramped space inside a crabapple tree in Q, for example. We might treat the space of the page differently for these, and create a contrast between the spacious poems and the pressurized ones, or we might leave the emptiness, emphasizing extremes in a single poem. (What if there was a box around one of these poems? There might still be an expanse of empty page, but the text could be cramped). The way the space of each page is designed will be an important and exciting consideration in printing these poems.

Works Cited

Julavits, Heidi. “What I Learned in Avalanche School.” The New York Times, Feb. 18 2021, Accessed Nov. 9 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Austere (W).” 2021

Matich, Meg. “Cold (F).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Cold (G).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Cold (H).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Cold (J).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Cold (Q).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “FF.” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Kiln (Ridge) (R).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Piano (Y).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Sanctuary, Appalachia (B).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Solarium (U).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Settler (M).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Settler (N).” 2021.

Matich, Meg. “Tíbrá (V).” 2021.

“Underwater Volcanoes Play Role in Long-Term Climate.” Sci News, Feb. 7 2015, Accessed Nov. 9 2021.

Small Visions of Shattering: Thoughts on “Cold”

                Something that struck me about Meg’s poetry was the repeating themes of small perspectives and remolding oneself through shattering. For instance, in “Astrohorologist”, Meg talks about the vastness and ancient age of space, talking about a “supernova that exploded 931 years before you were born” and a nebula that “outlives all concepts of measurement”. Later, in “Settler”, she emphasizes her “fissure of vision, a pinhole cavity” when observing snowflakes falling.

                The idea of remolding and shattering caught my interest as well, especially when she describes parts of herself being “scrubbed stone down to the frothy marrow” only to then be “worried into genesis”. In Meg’s poetry, the format “collides and rives apart”, breaking apart the words to reform their structures and meanings in how they were put together. This is best illustrated in her allusion to the geode in “Tíbrá”, a mineral that has to be smashed apart to reveal the quartz inside.

[Source: YouTube] How geodes are cracked apart.

Thoughts on “Cold”

There is so much in this poetry to talk about. Some of it, I am just not sure what to make of it, but there is just as much that I find illuminating. And this is what I find central to “Cold” – the uniformity of contradictions. The line that might capture such a theme best is found on Page J: “volcanic ice.”

I love what Meg does with light in this poetry. We normally think of it as coming from above revealing from on high what is “here, below.” However, Meg does something quite fascinating: she moves the origin of illumination to “below” or, better yet, to “inside.” This idea struck me most on pages T and U – which are perfectly places side by side. On T, Meg introduces the lines with the incorporated title, “The Astronomer’s Basement.” What use does an astronomer have for a basement? Surely, it would be such wasted space. Page U helped me to see, partly, the answer to such a question. When lake ice melts from light – the source of rising temperature – the warm water below pushes the ice up. While I don’t understand the scientific explanation for why this occurs, a moment of reflection shows how this is so contrary our prima facie reason. Surely the light from above, the sun, would melt the ice on top leaving ice at the bottom of the ocean. (Again, suspend that you know that lakes freeze over leaving water below for just a moment.) However observation proves otherwise. The light comes from below, and, using the idea of a basement and water encapsulated with ice, we get the idea that it comes from within.

A geode

Meg shows more that the interior is a source of beauty. On V, Meg uses the geode to express the interior giving meaning and beauty to the exterior. A hollowed sphere lined with crystals. Placing it by the mouth – the faculty of expressing meaning – gives a mental image of light shining through crystals giving color and beauty to what is seen, not only in the crystals, but beyond them. I should note that Meg uses the adjective “systolic” to describe “pulse.” Systolic apparently refers to phase of the heart’s rhythm in which it is pumping blood into the arteries. Hence, expression, light, valuing are acts proceeding from the inward onto the outward.

This latter point about the heart and the choice of words in much of Meg’s poetry place an aspect of music into discussion. I think someone else might be able to say more about this, but I see the expression of music as expressing the harmony of contradictions. So much of this poetry reminds me of Heraclitus.

Overall, I see this poetry as a reaction against modernity. Modernity makes hard distinctions between this and that. Descartes is generally considered the starting point, and his substance dualism places the person in juxtaposition with world. As such, the world becomes instruments of use. “Cold” is an expression of the person’s integration with world giving the exterior inherent value. In this way, Meg is following the tradition of Romanticism (especially Wiliam Blake) as well as taking up ecocrticism.

A Cold Moodboard

Something that struck me while reading the manuscript is how much space is mentioned as if it’s here on Earth, but I actually found some images that really prove that’s the case in Iceland. A lot of it has that intense, sharp and globe foreboding feel we were talking about to, so I wanted to share some of my finds.

Image found on Pinterest. Link:
Image found on Pinterest. Link:
Image found on Pinterest. Link:
Image found on Pinterest. Link:

As far as book design goes, I found a few things that give me a sense of survival or detachment with a minimalist look. Of course, not all of these fit exactly what I think the book should look like, but it sparked a few ideas.

Image found on Pinterest. Link:
Image found on Pinterest. Link:
Image found on Pinterest. Link:
Image found on Pinterest. Link: