"Love Is a Weather of Body" in Spiral Orb Four

My poem, “Love Is a Weather of Body,” is up on Spiral Orb Four, a journal of “permaculture” poetics! The editor, Eric Magrane, does a bang up job of choosing lines or fragments from each of the poems in the issue to create what he calls a “composted” opening poem that also serves as the table of contents. Very cool. He also hyperlinks the poems from within the issue which makes the reading experience a kind of diy adventure–you choose where to go next by clicking on the highlighted phrases in each poem.

It made me think of something I read recently in Jonathan Stalling’s essay on Ernest Fenollosa’s “The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry”:

“By using snapshots of dependently originating bundles, a poet, for Fenollosa, can actually mimic nature’s own infinitely interpenetrating flux while at the same time establishing conventional truths in beautiful harmonies within the patterns of language and nature itself.”

What the poet does on the level of the poem is what Magrane is doing on the level of the journal. It definitely feels connected to my poem and I’m really happy to be part of the permaculture!

Chapbook Design: Field Trips

Field Trip #1:

My trusty illustrator, Allie, and I took a trip to Logos Graphics and got a cool tour of the shop with John Sullivan, proprietor and printer extraordinaire.  I was especially impressed by the Heidelberg “Windmill” Press even though I don’t have a project that can use it–yet!  The Riso Digital Duplicator, which Lisa Rappoport recommended we use to print the text of our chapbooks (if we didn’t print it ourselves) reminded me of a cross between a photocopier and a mimeograph machine.  It prints from the top like a scanner, but uses heat to make a stencil that takes the ink from the print drum.  One neat thing you can do is have different colors of text by changing the ink and print

Heidelberg Windmill Press

Logos Graphics is in the Project Artaud building and since it was Open Studios Saturday, Allie and I had a good time wandering through the different lofts seeing the myriad of art being made in The City.  Our favorite studio was the home of Laurie Anderson, an artist working in gouache.  She had the best view from Downtown SF to Potrero Hill to Twin Peaks from her window-filled work space!

Field Trip #2:  Flax Art Supplies

Armed with my cover illustration and a printout of my poems, I went to Flax to look at PAPER!  Flax has a giant room filled with flat files of decorative paper–it’s a treasure trove, a paper library, a papyrophile’s dream.  Ok, I made up the term “papyrophile,” but you get what I mean.  I spent a very enjoyable two hours going through the shelves of Canson Mei Teint cover papers as well as the Fabriano Tiziano cover papers with Nick, Flax’s paper expert.  I think we went through every color combination possible, and narrowed the field from about 30 colors to 8.  I had just spent 2 hours looking at cover paper–how long would it take me to find the perfect fly leaf paper for all 8 colors!?

The Paper Room at Flax aka: Tip of the Paper Ice Berg

Luckily, it didn’t take me another two hours–I found a lovely lightweight gray paper with silver and gold flecks that I loved and–BOOM–everything fell into place.  Which often happens, both with art projects and poems; you futz and futz around with a word or a line or a color and then something magical happens when the extraneous falls away and you are left with something you weren’t looking for, but turns out to be perfect.  Like a sculptor who doesn’t “do” anything to the stone, but feels for what the stone wants to become. . .

Here’s a picture of my two cover papers and fly leaf paper, along with a cut out of the mirror tree that I’ll print on the cover:  Canson Mei Teints in terracotta (though the picture makes it look darker red than it is) and Fabriano Tiziano in blue.  I didn’t get the name of the fly leaf paper. . . if anyone reading this knows, I’d love to hear from you!

Cover and Fly Leaf Paper from Flax

I’m thinking an ivory text stock would be nice, but that will be in the next post. . .


Designing a Chapbook

In our second class we shared how our writing had been going (intermittently for most of us!), then each poet read some work out loud and we discussed our observations. Every writer’s voice was different and I’m really looking forward to seeing how these poems develop into unique chapbooks over the course of the next several weeks!

Then on to the brass tacks of the physical chapbook:

Size/Dimensions: (I’m leaning to a 5” x 6”)
Page count:  a maxium of 24 pages (six folded folios of 4 pages each)
Text stock:  weight (from 24lb. to 60lb.) and color (bright white, ivory, or craft brown).
Cover stock:  weight (60lb., 80lb. or 100lb.), color (we looked at several examples from the Canson Mi-teints series–I was drawn to a medium blue-gray toned sample), and texture (Lisa advised against using a cover stock that had inclusions like seeds, fibers, leaves or petals and also anything too slick or reflective).
Endpapers:  decorative papers inside the cover of the book.
Binding:  we’re doing a pamphlet stitch binding.
Ink color:

We also talked about the design of the book, including:

Front Cover and Back Cover:  Text only? Or a combination of text and image?
Front matter:  which which could include some or all of the following:
Title page, acknowledgements, half title page, table of contents, frontispiece (image)
Layout:  including margins, title treatment, spacing, page numbering system (number all the pages?  only the right-hand pages, or left-hand pages? font for text vs. font for titles, use of upper and lower case type, italics, bold, etc.
Backmatter:  Author’s note or bio, colophon, epilogue.

It really made me consider all the details we take for granted when we read a book. My head was awash in considerations about what would be best for the book that still lived mostly in my head. I pondered the examples of books that Lisa and Jennifer had brought, as well as the ones I had grabbed from my shelves at home. They were all great in their way, but none of them felt quite like the book in my head. I’m sure the book will come into focus as I gather all the information needed to move forward.

Lisa also mentioned the different aesthetics that we could bring to our books, from the refined feeling of fine arts to the rawer edge of a ‘zine.  She introduced the different methods of creating our text, including the possibility of hand-writing the text and photocopying it, or working with a professional printer to print the text on a risograph machine, or making a digital file and printing it on a home computer. Each choice would influence the kinds of paper and the printing process we would choose.

She recommended that we read some of Robert Bringhurst’s book, The Elements of Typographic Style and I found his advice both comforting and poetic:

“Think of the blank page as alpine meadow, or as the purity of undifferentiated being.”

“Typographically, poise is made of white space.”

“Allow the (type)face to speak in its natural idiom.”

These words made me happy and I know I’ll feel their wisdom as I get deeper into the design of the book. For me, this chapbook by Anne Heide embodied the elegance and simplicity of Bringhurst’s ideas:

Front Cover

Then it was time to get down to the nitty gritty of writing. I did free writes based on these prompts from Dan:

Write about a place you miss.
Write a letter saying goodbye to someone.
Write a rhopalic poem.

A rhopoalic is a poem where each line is one syllable longer than the line before. It ends up growing into a triangle set on its side


and so on! Such a fun puzzle. I’m working on mine at home, but check out Brenda Hillman’s poem, “Rhopalic Aubade”.

Next up:  Field Trip to Logos Graphics!