Update 23 January 2017: You can buy a copy of these poems through my Etsy store. Would you be interested in buying the book-block, so you can hand-bind the book at home?
A few days ago, a friend asked me if I would make a few of my poetry pieces available for a weekend intensive workshop he’s running. I said yes — but he was planning to photocopy the work, and make seven copies. I thought about this, and decided this was silly. I have the text block more or less ready to go as a PDF file. There are only seven people in this particular intensive… how hard could it be?
Two days later, I have seven “special edition” copies of a book that’s not quite ready for print, and I’ve made a few discoveries I hadn’t expected to make. First of all, this book will need to be longer in the next edition if I intend to bind it using the Coptic stitch, as I did here. Second, I learned that if you’re going to get all fancy with the stitching, it’s a good idea to get the geometry correct, too — although I do like the star (because a book about stars, and full of star poetry like this, should have a star on it, right? And it should be worked into the theme and design of the book, right?)
I have a lot of complaints about this edition, as a result. But I also have a really good idea now of how many copies of a book I can produce in a few days, on short notice — and how many I can produce if I’m really taking my time and being careful with each and every book. I couldn’t be that careful with these; I didn’t have time to slather all over these with a noon deadline for myself today.
But I also learned quite a bit about setting up a production line, as I did with carpentry — make seventeen sets of covers for books; then let them dry while you cut and fold pages; weight the pages while you pierce the covers for the stitching; pierce the pages while you weight the covers again to help them loosen up a bit before stitching. Stitch the books one at a time while watching cheesy ol’ TV shows to keep yourself seated and on-task making the books. Clean up as you go, or face massive piles of paper. There’s a Flickr album of photographs from the process if you care to see the process. Otherwise, you can just admire the books from afar.
And now there are seven copies of this book that were not in the world before. In any form. Are they perfect? No. Are they real? Yes.
But real is a tricky thing when it comes to books of poetry, as any working poet will tell you. We issue chap books for ourselves and our friends quite frequently, and make copies of our work in the hope that it will somehow outlast us. I spoke to someone only last night, sharing a poem with them, and — when they asked if they could read it to someone else — said that it was part of my immortality spell. I was only half-joking.
But even a chapbook is a fragile thing. How many copies do you need to put into the world, for your words to outlive you? How many beautiful art books must come into the world for a single one to survive the drift of ages? Likely far more than I can produce by hand.
Unless I make them beautiful. Unless I make them worthy of love and care and protection. Unless I attend to the effort to make my words and their repositories something larger than simply myself.
These copies are reserved. I intend to inform the people to whom they are given that this is a gift, and in exchange for this gift I ask them to respect my copyright, and not to publish them, copy them, or hand the book on to someone else.
If you would like a copy, you will have to contact me. I will be making more; but those will be for sale.