22nd August 2018
Back in 2012 I was in the process of putting together issue three of Alligator Stew and this was the first time that I approached Henry about producing something for the press. I had read his poetry through several sources, most notably Bottle of Smoke Press in the US, as well seeing his artwork popping up in various publications. And so it came to be that Henry produced a painting (see left) for Kenneth P. Gurney's poem 'Hunger Takes Him' as well as allowing me to print the poem 'Catching Up'. Subsequent to this I read Henry's poetry collections 'The Accidental Navigator' from Lummox Press and 'The Loulaki Bar' from Miskvabik Press. It sounds daft, but these books put a smile on my face and I found myself reaching for them when I was low - I still do. I decided I had to spread the gospel according to Henry, and so it began.
29th August 2018
Having decided on a provisional running order today, I found myself reconsidering some poems that were previously left out. Henry and I will need further conversation on this matter. What was going to be a collection of 40 poems may now be creeping up to nearer 50.
One of the most time consuming parts of making a book can be sourcing suitable materials, which is even harder if you live on a small island in the middle of the ocean. Companies such as Shepherds in London are not cheap, but they do have some sexy gear. One option to save money (in the long run) is to buy in bulk through companies such as Seawhites but this does sometimes have a large upfront investment. The board for Henry's book has been sourced from a small art shop in Valletta. I made an offer to the owner who was looking to get rid of it and then I proceeded to struggle with it onto the ferry and back home to Gozo. Previously I had been using paper designed for wedding invites for the text pages as it had a luxury feel and a good colour; however, for Henry's book I'm considering something a bit different as it will be Letterpress printed and so this opens up the option of recycled paper, such as that of Frogmore Paper.
In other news, a possible location for PEP's new premises has been found as I look to move out of the house. More news on that to come.
'Hydra Collage' © Henry Denander
Test printing on Frogmore Paper © Pig Ear Press
23rd August 2018
The poems that will appear in 'A slow boat to Piraeus' were selected a long while back, but today I began the process of deciding on an order, which will be sent to Henry for approval. I'm sure there are methods that other editors use, but I tend to try and create a good flow rather than necessarily linking it together thematically. By that I mean, for example, I will avoid putting poems that are too similar together, or mixing up short poems with longer ones. As there are very specific locations that appear in the collection (mostly Sweden and the Greek island of Hydra) the temptation is to steer towards that obvious connection, but there are many more themes that are the inspiration for the poems, from cats and donkeys, to jazz and being a 'bean counter' (as Henry puts it) for the music industry. The great thing is that despite having read these poems numerous times they continue to put a smile on my face.
Diary of a Book
21 August 2018
An old friend died this week. He would have made a joke about the idea of doing something 'arty' like this, a smile wrapped around his face, an eyebrow raised, but his death also reminded me of how much we need people who can open a window and let a bit of light shine in.
The writing and art of Henry Denander is going to do that for you and this online diary will allow you to follow me on the journey to creating and launching his collection 'On a slow boat to Piraeus'.
Diary of a Book
Locking the form © Pig Ear Press
13th October 2018
Despite the silence, the book has continued its progression with a final agreement reached on the poems that will be used and the running order. All being well, the whole book will be printed Letterpress using handset type on an Adana 8x5. The font is 12pt Baskerville.
The picture on the left shows the first poem to be set: 'untitled #1'. With 40+ poems, this will be some undertaking, but should make for a book that you can't stop running your fingers over.
© Henry Denander
New gear © Pig Ear Press
Cats waiting for fish heads in Hydra © Pig Ear Press
Handmade paper available from Shepherds
23rd October 2018
Last summer the polymer rollers for my press melted in the heat. Although I managed to cobble through by ensuring the ink disc was always wet (to prevent the rollers sticking) this was obviously not ideal. Fortunately, having saved up my pocket money, I was able to source some new rubber rollers (which don't melt) from Caslon in the UK. They also supplied me with a new chase, some leads (cut to requested size) and some spacers. In addition to this I purchased a punching cradle from eBay, which despite its concerning name is actually a tool for accurately punching holes for sewing books. Up until now I've always used a cork board and an awl, but I'm always looking for ways to improve my working practises. The final part of the jigsaw is a new font of Baskerville 12pt type. As anyone who has ever worked in Letterpress will know, to get the required amount of vowels you also end up with a surplus of consonants - if anyone has any ideas for how to use 30 m's then let me know!
15th October 2018
Having received a sample of the papers available from the excellent Frogmore Paper, I set about doing a test print to see if any of their papers would be suitable for the book. These test prints are now on their way to Sweden for Henry's consideration. The Mill is a not-for-profit museum which uses the money raised from paper sales to keep running.
They also have a paper made from reindeer poo for anyone looking for something a bit festive!