Wednesday, December 31, 2014

squeaky last post for 2014

all years are tough & tender, it depends on which direction one's looking at any moment - but I want to thank everyone for your support & encouragement thruout this year - it has been something of a wild ride - the great success of CODEX 2014 in Melbourne last March and the demise of Codex Australia soon after - the hours of personal questing & questioning about 'what on earth I'm here for' that followed - the publication of poems in Loom to wood engravings by Richard Wagener by David Pascoe's Nawakum Press in California; the immanent issue of Vestige, poems to accompany more engravings by Richard and issued by his own wonderfully-named Mixolydian Editions, also in California; invitations to participate in the Codex Foundation's Alchimie du Verbe, with 25 book artists 'from around the world', and The National Print Museum's Fine Press Book exhibition in Dublin, Ireland early in 2015; the acceptance of a book of poems, (a paperback, no less!), Crankhandle, by Cordite Poetry in Melbourne, coming out in 2015; the sad & unnecessary closure of The Holloway Press at the University of Auckland (which I helped to found in 1994); an exhibition of Holloway Press books in Auckland, which then travelled to Christchurch to the Christchurch Art Gallery; and a talk I gave at Steve Clay's home in New York City back in 2010 will now be published in Threads, a series of talks by book artists (all the talks were delivered at Steve's home), published jointly by Steve's Granary Books, New York, & Kyle Schlesinger's Cuneiform Press, Houston, Texas; I launched a splendid exhibition of the calligraphy of Deirdre Hassed, a gem of which now hangs on the wall at home; and I gave two talks, one at the State Library of Queensland titled Electio Editions - what is a printer to do? and the other was the Keynote at the Victorian Bookbinders Guild symposium, titled Shaking the pumpkin : the artisan and the book as a work of art

for Electio in 2015, two books : one, the poems of my early (1960s) friend & mentor George South, and two, a book by Western Australian Robert Wood, who I met in Philadelphia in 2004 - he was in a class of Charles Bernstein's there - and he now lives in Melbourne - add to that four or five poetry broadsides, and writers already lined up for that are Marion May Campbell & Ruark Lewis, there may be one by the printer, and two others are under discussion - 

I cannot comment on 'world news' it is so irremediably bad - the amount of killing that happens every day is beyond any individual's capacity to grieve for - no wonder a local death is capable of unleashing a large scale social grieving - it stands, it seems to me, as a trigger for the deep grief most of us feel at a world in which power & money does not care whether any of us lives or dies - yesterday, a neighbour gave Miriam roses from her garden and they now grace, and seriously, they do grace, our kitchen table - and we do know that acts like these are also commonplace and along with whatever work we are given to do, are sometimes the only defence we have against the killing tides - let 2015 be safe for all of us -

Thursday, December 25, 2014

a note towards the year's end

it may seem absurd to many who'll think 25 December is not a day to treat simply as 'one day among all the others', but for me is has been that for a very long time - as the year is 'drawing all too rapidly to a close' (from Beyond the Fringe, sometime in the 1960s, and the full quote is "I see the sands of time are drawing all too rapidly to a close"), I have time over the next month or so to reflect on a long history of writing/printing, and figure out what, with age & health more pressing than they used to be, I might do next for the long haul, and over the next year - it seems odd to buy more type at this late stage, but I have ordered 24pt Albertus Light, and 12D/14pt Gill Sans Light Greek (capitals only) from Offizin Parnassia in Switzerland (they bought the late Harold Berliner's type foundry, and I still have Harold's catalog, Types we can make in hot metal, Nevada City, California) - I have only seen Albertus Light used by Sebastian Carter at Rampant Lions, where he made brilliant use of it in Samuel Beckett's As the story was told (1987) - I have only seen the Gill Sans Light Greek used by Peter Koch in his beautifully austere edition of Herakleitos, translated by the wonderful Guy Davenport (1990) - interestingly, both these books are printed on the tan-colored Zerkall laid paper (Nideggen in Koch's, Silurian in Carter's, tho both papers look identical to me, and seem to be of the same weight & color) - Davenport's essays, The Geography of the Imagination, is on my reading list in the next weeks, it's a book I return to each year, and some of the shorter essays, just a couple pages long, are great to read aloud - in any event, the printer is resting over the holiday break (Pithecanthropus erectus desperate to sit down again! - 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Will there be words

the book's done - prospectuses & orders are going out today - then the mind turns to the next project, the poems of George South - 

meanwhile, I have been invited to participate in an exhibition of fine press books at The National Print Museum in Dublin, Ireland - 25 book artists have been invited, including Editions Koch, Russell Maret, Lone Oak Press, Barbarian Press, Midnight Paper Sales, Greenboathouse Press, Heavenly Monkey, Pear Tree Press, The Old School Press, Incline Press - wonderful to be in such company, and the book I am sending is Jenson's Greek - the show will be held February/March 2015 - I'll provide more detail as it comes to hand - 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

the book, inter alia

Will there be words is printed, folded, collated, & ready for sewing into covers - the books will be posted out to buyers on Tuesday of next week - meanwhile, I want to thank all those who either confirmed or joined up for my new prospectus postal mailing list - the email list (which I retain for notices other than prospectuses) is now much shorter than it was, and the postal list is looking refreshed & healthy - 

the next book will be poems by George South (mentioned earlier in the blog), with an Introduction by one of the most respected elders of Australian letters, Chris Wallace-Crabbe - it's likely to be a 40-page volume, bound in boards with a slipcase, and will cost around AUD $800 a copy - I am hoping also that there will be one special binding at $1500 - the plan is to publish in March 2015, and all will be more fully revealed in the prospectus, which will be issued in February - 

my intention to issue a number of poetry broadsides thruout next year is underway - four will be produced, on handmade papers, with metal & wood types, all signed by the poets, in 26 copies, priced at AUD $75 each - no prospectuses will be issued, I will use the email list for these, and of course I'll post pictures of them here - 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

'All photographs are liars'

I love this photograph - in a way it is a perfect example of what the text you see proposes - that even the solid, factual, inescapable reality of specific marks on a specific piece of paper can respond to the specific and differing organs of perception that are focused towards it - the photo was kindly taken by Robert McCamant of Parenthesis magazine, and it is with his generous permission I reproduce it here - taken from the frontispiece of my recent book, Jenson's Greek, the 'real' paper is creamy/white - but here it seems as if all the colors of the spectrum are at play - they say that all the colors are contained in white light, do they not - and others have said (getting this from Ivan Illich's In the vineyard of the text) that the white page is the open self upon which 'the word' is written, upon which we are thereby inscribed by the culture in which we grow - the photograph lies in terms of what one sees - the photograph tells a truth about the relation between an object and the process of which it is a part - who knows what Herakleitos would think about it - on another hand, a piece of paper is not a blank slate, tabula rasa, and nor are any of us - the apparently blank sheet is already a function of cultural inscription (the historical contexts in which paper has been made by hand for the last millennium)  before any mark is added to it - Herakleitos's text is printed in silver with Jan van Krimpen's Open Kapitalen type - in the type I have, the roman is 24 point, the Greek is 24 Didot, & I'm trying to remember why the types are on two different measures - if my memory is correct, the 24 point type came from the foundry of the late Paul Hayden Duensing, I think while he was still in Kalamazoo, & the Didot came from Enschede in The Netherlands when it was still casting, and both in the 1980s - I first saw this type on a titlepage of Mottetti / Motets by Eugenio Montale, translated by Charles Wright, and printed by Kim Merker at The Windhover Press at the University of Iowa, 1981 - the hand-worked yellow on the inside of the letters has always moved me - and Miriam has kindly taken this picture of it - 

Friday, December 5, 2014

last printrun on present book

Miriam's photographic take on the last printrun of Will there be words - while the top portion (the proportion is the golden ratio) looks black here, it is Thalo Blue, from Graphic Chemicals, darkened by the red underneath it - even tho the brass rules used to make these images are not spaced out, they still have apparently un-inked lines between them, as can be seen in the red section - when the blue rules are over-printed at the top, and because not all the rules are of the same width, there is this nice effect that some of those 'between' spaces appear light blue - three colors from two, which is an old letterpress trick, but one which can still surprise & delight - it might be a fault, and some will think so, but I like a bit of indeterminacy, a bit of uncertainty, in my work - I admire without stint, don't get me wrong, the extraordinary control in the work of printers like Russell Maret in New York (tho there is no one 'like' him), or Gaylord Shanilec in Wisconsin - and it could simply be that I am lazy and should strive to be more of a printing technician than I am - but I do enjoy a measure of shiftiness in the image, which of course is not visible in any one volume, but is when one sees all the printed sheets laid out side by side - it raises an old bibliographic question about printed texts : which is the 'real' work, this variation found here, or that variation found there - or is the 'work' the whole edition, or the whole collection of textual variants which a poet, say, might spread over time - in which case, the 'whole work' is never visible in a single view - I like such conundra, and feel no urge at all to solve 'em - 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

the boxes have arrived

a heap of boxes, a pile of boxes, a gaggle of boxes, who knows what term should be used, but here they are, beautifully made by Barbara Schmelzer, all ready to be filled & posted out - well, the book printing is not yet done but will be & the book sewn by next Friday - and of course the first prospectus will go out with it - Miriam took the picture, and the boxes are sitting (standing, resting?) on the plate glass inking slab I use at the Press, and I rather like the reflected image of the boxes and the wording on them reaching down - the reflected picture frame to be seen in the glass is (tho you can't really see it here) is of Hermann Zapf's lovely Standard Lay of the Case, upon which he quotes Frederic Goudy : A letter is a symbol with a definite shape and significance, indicating a single sound or combination of sounds and providing a means, through grouping, for the visible impression of words, that is, of thoughts. It's not hard for me to imagine that this definition can also apply to the poem : A poem is a symbol with a definite shape & significance. . . 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

more on the printed prospectus

over the last week it's been interesting watching the mailing list firm up & shrink at the same time - the first new prospectus will be issued in about two weeks, and will "feature" my new poems Will there be words - there is a new letterpress LISTSERV in which the question of prospectuses has been raised, along with a hint of the almost moral imperative to use social media to 'get out there', and be part of the real world of people connectivity - my problem has been that I bought into that to some degree (tho I couldn't cope with the idea of Facebook, Twitter etc, and especially after I found LinkedIn to be completely useless, and not easy to withdraw from - what is undeniable is that sales receded as reliance on email increased - I don't doubt that I was never really adept at the electronic pump, but now it is time to return to a few basics : basics, I might say, that were simply how we did things before the computer worked its way into our lives -

also being planned now is a digitally-printed pamphlet as an Electio catalog - 2013 was the tenth year of the press, so Electio Editions, The first ten years will I hope be ready before xmas, and copies will go out a) with each book, and b) upon request - 

also being planned (have I already said that?) is a series of broadsides, choice bits of poetry or prose from the press's favourite writers - printed on the handpress - and on lovely handmade papers, in more than one color - and will use the display types I have which never quite get into the books - 60pt Centaur Titling, 60pt Gill Sans Shadow, 120pt (I aint kidding) Futura Light caps, 3 sizes of De Vinne Outline, 24pt Umbra, several sizes of Castellar, 30pt Zapf Civilite, 24pt roman & 24 Didot Greek of Open Kapitalen, 36pt Franklin Gothic Greek, 18pt Libra, 24pt Eusebius Open, 36pt Cochin Open, and a small collection of wood types - the poor things tend just to sit quietly in cases and put up with my neglect - but it's clear that only printing books will not allow me to use the full range of what I have here - here's a sample of the Cochin Open, before the sheets were flattened - 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

did you say 'Green Crackle'?

and here it is, made by hand at Cave Paper, Minneapolis - I have now used several papers made by them (Amanda Degener & Bridget O'Malley) for book covers - and no doubt I will continue to use them - mind you, when damped they respond to water as if an electric shock has passed thru them, bubbling up 'before your very eyes', but they do settle down & behave - patience is everything here, and putting the damped paper in a self-seal plastic bag with no weights on it at all, and leaving it for a couple of hours does the trick - anyway, the crackle is made this way (according to the Cave sample book) : Gelatin size is applied as a resist on flax paper. Then the sheet is submerged in an earthy green pigment - as many Cave papers are patterned (tho not regularly or geometrically) in some way, it means that every sheet is different and every cut from each sheet is different from other cuts from the same sheet - a nice randomness that I much admire and enjoy using - 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Reverting to the printed prospectus

I am changing the way I inform 'the world' about new books coming from Electio – I am reverting to the more traditional printed prospectus rather than the email notice  –  to this end, you will need to provide me with a postal address, and electronic notices will no longer be issued - but I will continue to post news about fresh books here on the blog - 

in part this is necessitated because my email list has grown 'like topsy' over the last several years, but that growth has been accompanied with a fall in sales rather than an increase - but the printed prospectus provides a sample of my printing & sense of design - they will be printed on nice paper in at least 2 colors, and printed on the handpress as the books are - so each one is a small taster of the book to come - 

NOTE : this will not apply to Standing Order customers, who will receive a copy of the prospectus with each copy of the books –

Sunday, November 16, 2014

New book on its way

the new book, Will there be words, is now well into production - three sheets out of the five to be printed are done - the above photo (as usual, taken by Miriam) shows some of the images spread out to dry - the edition will be 26 copies with 22 for sale - the paper is handmade Magnani damped for printing on the Albion (being used as a drying rack in the photo) - and the type is Monotype Dante thruout - bookbinder Barbara Schmelzer in New South Wales is making the boxes for this edition, and I'll post a photo of that as it arrives - the soft cover is Green Crackle made by Cave Paper in Minneapolis - the images, two in the book, are made using brass rules, a good collection I acquired over twenty years ago and have barely used - a nice thing about them is that they were clearly used for a lot of trade jobbing work and are no longer quite straight flat slabs of solid color when printed - that is, they have character (which is better than saying that they show signs of wear & tear, or are damaged etc - but it means that with each pull on the press, the little marks on the surfaces of the rules are the same from print to print - and one can then decide whether their arrangement is what one is happy with or whether they might be shifted around - for me, this is a new prospect for the appearance of tiny details from a surface altered by time & chance - 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Vale Martin Harrison

yesterday, poet Michael Farrell rang to tell me our mutual friend, poet & critic, Martin Harrison had died - born in 1949, he was probably 65 and, for me, gone too soon - while we met a long time ago, 1979 in Auckland, New Zealand, we may only have met & talked less than ten times since then, but it was always warm & refreshing, and we usually talked about Heidegger - I printed his second book of poems, TRUCE, at Hawk Press in 1979, and the book was launched in the Denis Cohn Gallery in Auckland - the book's colophon reads "This book is designed, handset & printed by Alan Loney in a limited edition of 200 copies. The paper is Abbey Mills Text, the type is Centaur, & the printing is done on an Arab treadle platen. The binding is hand-sewn by Alison Loney, who also set the wooden letters for the cover." 
and here's one poem from the book - in Martin's typescript he had whited out parts of letters where SUN & CLOUD break thru the poem - in letterpress printing of course, white-out is not possible, so I had to hack away at the metal type with hammer & screwdriver in order to get the effect he wanted, which is this - 
those who knew & loved him and his work will miss him

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Holloway Press in Christchurch

the Christchurch Art Gallery is about to exhibit a recent show, Dark Arts: Twenty Years of the Holloway Press, from the Gus Fisher Gallery in Auckland of the work of The Holloway Press, which has just been shut down by the University of Auckland. Peter Vangioni of the Christchurch Art Gallery has posted news of the show on their blog, viewable here - here are two nice pics from Fishwork, poems by Loney & wonderful paintings & prints on paper by Max Gimblett - 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

the poet in San Francisco

here's a view of a cabinet on show at the San Francisco Public Library, the picture kindly sent to me by Susan Filter in Berkeley - at bottom right is an opening in LOOM, wood engravings by Richard Wagener, poems by 'the present writer', and the book published jointly by David Pascoe's Nawakum Press and Richard Wagener's Mixolydian Press, both in California - see Nawakum Press for details - 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

the estate of George South

I am at present planning to make a book of the poems of George South, who took his life in either Melbourne or Sydney in 1965 - his poems were all typed up by Margo Sutherland in New Zealand around 1964, and I have had this collection, and 9 of George's Notebooks, in my possession since that time - 

I have no idea however who, if anyone, was/is trustee of his estate, or even (which I suspect) whether he died intestate - the only clue I have is that he knew someone called Helen closely just before he died - 

if anyone can help, I'd be very grateful - 

Friday, July 18, 2014

more on Jenson's Greek

this long-awaited (i.e. by the printer!) book is now bound, and the boxes are now in production - publication date is looming (well, August 1, 2014) - just 21 of the 26 copies are for sale at $800 the copy - here is what the unboxed book looks like, at least on the outside - both pics were taken by Barbara Schmelzer, who bound the books - 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

more on Lullaby

printing on Lullaby proceeds apace, with the final sheet with its 5 runs thru the press being done now - here's the colophon page - 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

a Lullaby for David Mitchell

one of New Zealand's most interesting & innovative poets of the early 1970s, David Mitchell, died in 2011 - his 1970 book, Pipe Dreams in Ponsonby, was one of a small set of publications that changed the shape of poems and the conversation about them in New Zealand for the next three decades - Ross Brighton, a New Zealand poet of a later generation, has written a deeply felt & beautifully crafted poem, originally sub-titled "On the occasion of the scattering of his ashes on Auckland Harbour", in honour of his predecessor, and it's my pleasure to present this poem as the next Electio Edition - 

here's cover, laid out to dry, of Cave handmade paper - the image is made up simply of brass rules, and printed using only a gloss varnish - so, depending on the angle of vision, the image will either look black or will shine with reflected light - 

26 copies will be printed, with Cave handmade covers, the poem printed on Magnani handmade paper 130gsm, in Dante type with Gill Sans Light for display, and protected in a cloth-covered chemise - all at $260 the copy - publication date : end July - 

the variety of color in the image shows a bit lighter here than in the paper itself, but the shifting hues are made by partially dipping the sheet into successive trays of color in a fairly random way - all sheets are therefore different, and the relation of the printed image to the shifting colors in the paper is always different from sheet to sheet - 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

the Book has arrived

eMailing flowers to Mondrian is here, and now for sale. The earlier price is now seen as way too low - the edition is 100 copies, of which 80 are for sale at AUD $60 (includes post & packing) - you can pay thru PayPal to my email address - alanloney(at)gmail(dot)com - 

for those who live in Melbourne, or who are passing thru at a judicious time, there'll be a proper book launch in the next couple of weeks - email me if you want to be on the mailing list -

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

first Hawk Press book getting closer

things are now getting closer to issuing the first Hawk Press title : eMailing flowers to Mondrian, now refigured as being by both Alan Loney & Max Gimblett - there's a Gimblett drawing on the cover & two other flower drawings, both done in 2001, inside the book - a whole new digital era in the life of the printer! or some such nonsense - anyway, for your delectation, and mine, here's the cover -

Friday, January 10, 2014

the first Hawk Press title

signalled a few days ago, the first Haw Press title is almost ready for production - it is Emailing flowers to Mondrian, and will be printed digitally in 100 copies at $30 each, including parcel & postage. The full color cover will show a drawing by Max Gimblett - Publication date will be mid February - and this is from the book's Foreword

This poem is made by taking phrases verbatim from emails between myself & Max Gimblett after the poem Mondrian’s flowers was written and before pictures that were made for the poem were begun. The resultant publication was Mondrian’s flowers, published by Steve Clay at Granary Books, New York 2002. The original emails are often detailed about the original poems and often personal between poet and artist, and while they are a precise register of an enjoyable conversation they also carry a burden of ‘other matters’ which neither of us wish to launch into the domain. The poem then seeks to lift the burden of the emails but keep some of the words to see if they remain active on their own terms. 

copies can be ordered by emailing me and payments done thru PayPal to me at my email address - 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Anne of the Iron Door

the publication of my novella Anne of the Iron Door by Black Pepper Press in Melbourne a few years ago has gone totally without public notice and almost no sales at all - but a couple of days ago Lisa Hill has reviewed it on her blog, & that review can be seen here

         a small clue to what the book is in some way "about" can be found hidden in the words Gutenberg, Gutenberg, Gutenberg, Gutenberg, Gutenberg, Gutenberg etc etc etc -