Wednesday, October 10, 2012

in memoriam Alessandro Zanella, printer

early last July (I cannot find an exact date) Alessandro Zanella, handprinter, of the Edizioni Ampersand, Verona, Italy, died unexpectedly. I can find almost nothing online that registers this event, or honors him, or gives even a short story of his life – and I’m sorry to say I cannot make up that lack here – Alessandro Zanella has been in my mind as a printer for a long time, first as a colleague & fellow printer with Richard-Gabriele Rummonds, and then out on his own as Edizioni Ampersand – in part this attraction was one of those romantic & purely emotional “connections” in that one of New Zealand’s best known literary printers, Denis Glover (1912-1980) of Caxton Press used to write to me as ‘Dear Ampersand Alan’ (I used ampersands in my poetry, something he would never do) – and I once wrote an essay titled & the ampersand, which I printed in 1990 – but I knew he printed on a rare Stanhope iron handpress (the only one I had seen was given the late D F McKenzie and his Wai-te-ata Press at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand by Cambridge University), and I knew that he taught handpress printing, and at one time I seriously considered signing up but the costs were then prohibitive for me – rummaging about online I found a nice tribute of one his teaching classes by Marnie Parsons of Running The Goat – and here you can find a short account of the course and some fine pictures of the students in action, taken by Alessandro himself -

when I found out that he had passed away I contacted Vamp and Tramp Booksellers and I now have one of the most beautiful books in my collection, Persephone by Yannis Ritsos with woodcuts by Joe Tilson – exquisite printing, beautiful design, and a screenprinted paper over boards cover, the text printed in both Greek & English - Vamp and Tramp still have a few copies of a few of Ampersand’s titles –

I think the passing of a handprinter at Zanella’s level deserves some real acknowledgment and I hope to see something soon that keeps the profile & the spirit of the books of Alessandro Zanella alive. . .