49 Days

Alan Loney

Loney's intense and compelling long poem is an extended meditation and movement through the days and weeks immediately following the tragic death of his son. Pragmatic in tone yet poignant in purpose, this sequence slips and stumbles through the intimate yet universal maw of grief, venturing with delicate honesty to remain consciously present in the wake of loss.

While the plan from the start was to set this book in 16pt ATF Cloister Lightface, cast in-house on the Super Caster, and to print it on Khadi handmade rag with Cave papers for the binding, the title-page went through a number of iterations. The initial plan was to design a series of hashmarks counting up to 49 days, an idea which was both obvious and a bit crass and thus it never felt right. While mulling this over I happened upon the work of Agnes Martin, a Canadian-born artist who spent most of her cantankerous working life in the US.

Agnes Martin, "Untitled," 1960.

¶ Primarily concerned with a Minimalist preoccupation with grids, she produced dozens of paintings and sketches exploring this Platonic ideal. What appeals to me so much about her work, however, is the human fallibility introduced by the fact that she constructed her various grids by hand (albeit often using a ruler), and thus their geometry is never quite perfect, both in a slight inconsistency of spacing and also in the variation of stroke (whether made with a brush, a knife or a pencil). My interest in Martin's work made the leap into my thinking about 49 Days, and so I set up some brass rule and came up with the basic graphic element for the title-page, which is a simple series of 49 rules in 7 colours, thereby marking each day of the seven weeks described in the poem. Of course, printing the thing was far from simple: keeping 49 hairline rules evenly spaced turned out to be all but impossible, largely because with that many impressions the handmade paper insisted on curling more with each pass, making metric positioning futile. These rules are then repeated in the same colour sequence, one on each page of the poem.


Alan Loney is a poet, a handpress printer, and a publisher. His first book of poems was published in 1971, and he has published the poetry of others since 1975. Recent books written by Loney include The Books to Come (Cuneiform 2010), Bruno Leti: Paintings (Macmillan 2011), The Printing of a Masterpiece (Black Pepper 2008), the novella Anne of the Iron Door (Black Pepper 2011), and the essay, Death of the reader (Mindmade Books, Los Angeles 2016). His most recent poetry is Next to Nothing (Red Dragonfly Press, Minnesota 2018). He won the Poetry prize in the 2016 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards for Crankhandle (Cordite 2015), received the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award for a life’s achievement in poetry in 2011, and was Literary Fellow at the University of Auckland in 1992. He was founder and co-director of the Holloway Press at the University of Auckland from 1994to 1998. Following his retirement from printing at Electio Editions (2004-2015), he published Verso, a magazine for the Book as a Work of Art (2015-2018). He lives with his partner Miriam Morris in Melbourne, Australia.



6.25" × 10.5", 60pp. 65 copies.
Simplified German binding with Cave papers for the boards and endsheets, vellum spine stamped in gold. Enclosed in a cloth slipcase.
ISBN: 978-1-894744-40-9

Copies available, .

Alcuin Society Book
Design Award Winner


Hand-set in ATF Cloister Lightface, cast on the late, great Jim Rimmer’s Super Caster two summers ago before the nightmare of moving and building the new house & shop. The type was printed on a Vandercook 15-21 into Khadi handmade white rag. The cover paper & endsheets are from Cave. The book was printed during the early summer of 2018 (in the new shop, while the house is still an elusive dream), with the binding executed by Alanna Simenson in Sooke, BC.