Poetic Adventures in Letterpress


That’s Eric Woods, owner and founder of Firecracker Press, letter-pressing a lovely broadside of an excerpt from a poem of mine… while I read from that poem. In that sense, the City-Wide Open Studios reading I did alongside Amy Genova at Firecracker on July 28th was like an eclipse, where everything lined up just-so — the words aloud, the words on the page, the words rattling around in other peoples’ brains — and the result was pretty cool. The press gave off these inky smells and clunky rhythms that made a great backdrop for the reading, and the design work that the Firecracker interns did on the broadside is really incredible. Tim (my partner-in-crime), snagged photos of the rough mock-up, the press, and the broadside itself so you can see the project in its varying stages:

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(That ink! That INK! That juicy red color is, I learned, called “Bordeaux,” and by God, I can’t decide whether I want to eat it or roll around in it or both.)

Click on the image below for a closer look at the finished product, which you can purchase at Firecracker (on Cherokee St. in St. Louis) if you’re so inclined:

The excerpt is from a poem of mine called “In Need of Going,” and I think Jill Bieker (who works at Firecracker and oversees this reading series) did well choosing lines that still resonate without the larger context of the poem from which they were pulled. Hopefully this poem in its entirety will find a published home soon so I can share it with you!

If your mouth waters at letterpress, you ought to check out Architrave — an independent press, founded by St. Louis’s own Jen Tappenden, that prints letterpress poems for purchase individually or as an edition of ten. What’s cool about each broadside, in addition to its ability to make tangible an art form that’s typically isolated from the physical world, is that it comes with an insert containing two editorial blurbs — one which gives the reader a door into the poem (what is it trying to do? how is it asking to be read?) and another offering a bit of information about the way in which the poem is in dialogue with the broadside’s design. Architrave Press works hard to invite readers to engage with poetry, and I like that. Plus, Jen does beautiful work. If you’re a writer of poetry yourself, consider sending Architrave your work.

Happy poem-ing, friends!


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