Tag Archives: letterpress

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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POP! POP! BANG! Or: Firecracker noises as an apt expression of my excitement

What are you doing this weekend? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you.

You’re going to get your art on, because Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis is having its City-Wide Open Studios shindig Saturday and Sunday from 10am – 4pm. If you stop by CAM or hit up their website, you can get a map of the studios which artists have oh-so-kindly opened to the public all over the city, and then you can make the rounds for a self-guided tour of cool spaces where creative people make art happen. There are some guided tours you can join, or you can just bop around for free.

One of the establishments that should definitely be on your route is Firecracker Press, a graphic design studio/letterpress print shop that does really distinctive design work that, if you’re in St. Louis, you see all the time — whether you know it’s Firecracker or not.

Here’s the meat-tastic print I have hanging over my kitchen table. Seriously, who’s going to turn down bacon?

If you come to Firecracker at 2pm on Saturday, you’ll not only get to see the inner-workings of a letterpress studio with all its yummy ink smells and printing contraptions, but you’ll get to hear some poetry read by myself and Amy Genova (here’s her poem “The Poet’s Call to Worship” in The Tipton Poetry Journal). And! There’s an “and!” While we’re reading, the folks at Firecracker will be printing letterpress cards with poem excerpts on them for all the attendees to take home. So it’s like, you get to hear poems, watch talented artists and antique machinery at work, and then leave with two beautifully-crafted artifacts as mementos.

And, tangentially related to bacon, there’s a City-Wide Open Studios BBQ at CAM on Sunday at 4:00 with food from Pappy’s, beer from Schlafly, and ice cream from Serendipity. That’s pretty much everything delicious in St. Louis, so come by and celebrate.

So yeah — there’s your weekend! Art, poetry, BBQ. DONE AND DONE.


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