At last the long-teased essay by Jan van Krimpen is on the press and nearly ready to send off to the binder, while we're also busy casting type for Jake Kennedy's new book of poems. Stay tuned for full details soon, but for the moment see below...
6" × 9.75", 28pp. 2015 $250
From the Preface: This edition has been years in the making. Its production began in the reading room of the Meermanno Museum of the Book in The Hague, while John Friedrichs and I rummaged through boxes of archival material on Jan van Krimpen. In one of the files we hungrily sifted through was a manuscript, in Van Krimpen’s fine hand, of a contribution for Bont-Boek over Bond en Boek, published in Holland in 1955. The essay served as a response to Stanley Morison’s “First Principles of Typography,” and thus Van Krimpen simply appended the title in order to add his own particular thoughts. Neither John nor I were familiar with Van Krimpen’s essay, and so shortly after my visit to Holland, John set to work translating the text, which is now presented here for the first time in English. Like Morison’s, Van Krimpen’s text is almost hilariously dry, serious to a fault and written with a typically brutal formality. Nonetheless it is an important contribution to the literature of typographic history, and a pleasant surprise for admirers of Van Krimpen’s work.
Variations was first published in 1955 as Van Krimpen’s contribution to a book published on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Dutch Publishers’ Association, set in Van Krimpen’s Romulus type and designed by his colleague at Joh. Enschedé, Sem Hartz. 1955 was also the year of a spelling reform in the Netherlands and, true to Van Krimpen’s character, he had refused to use the new spelling. As a result, his essay is the only one in the book that sticks to the old spelling.
Variations is a re-evaluation of the views expressed by Stanley Morison in ‘First Principles of Typography’ a quarter of a century earlier, against the background of recent developments in typography, in particular in the Netherlands. The essay was written for an audience of people working in the Dutch publishing industry and Van Krimpen ventures to point out the continued relevance of Morison’s typographical principles at the beginning of an era in which the Dutch publishing world was set to break away from tradition.
The wrapper, half-title and colophon are set in Jan van Krimpen’s foundry Romanée, cast in Haarlem, the Netherlands, by the House of Enschedé in 1928. The remainder of the book is set in a new digital version of Romanée, based closely on Van Krimpen’s original drawings for the types, rather than on printed samples from the metal. As such, this book and the Stanley Morison, published in 2012, present an interesting comparison of two digital ‘revivals’ of the Romanée typeface, with bits & pieces of text also printed from the actual metal for further comparison. The text, translated by John Friedrichs of Leiden, the Netherlands, appears here for the first time in English. The book was printed into handmade Magnani Velata on a Vandercook 15-21 at the Greenboathouse Press in Vernon, BC. The binding was designed by Jason Dewinetz and executed by Alanna Simenson in Vancouver.
Thanks are due to Ricky Tax for his generous assistance at the Meermanno Museum of the Book in the Hague, to Johan de Zoete at the Enschedé archives in Haarlem, to legendary bookseller Wilma Schuhmacher in Amsterdam, and to many other booksellers and librarians who kindly assisted John and me on our typographical adventures in Holland.
Limited to 45 numbered copies, all signed by the author.
6.5" × 11", 28pp. 2015 $350
Jake Kennedy’s virtuosic fifteen poem sequence, anchored in Masaki Kobayashi’s obliterating film Harakari (1962), is a series of turbulent and meditative riffs on the self and its dissolution; on fear, sickness, emptiness; on the “sweet fuckery of the mortal body” that—like all good poetry—resists the critic’s feeble paraphrase. Think of John Coltrane’s The Love Supreme or Charles Mingus’ Black Saint and the Sinner Lady or Alban Berg’s Op. 1 sonata for analogues to Kennedy’s restless and torqued but deeply coherent stanzas. Hence one awesome element of these poems: the philosophical desire enacted in them never gives way to that sense of finish or completion which tends to quarantine a poem and set it apart for a reader’s admiration; instead this poetry clobbers us with its brackish torrent of images, questions, modalities, shifts in “high / low” diction, metaphors—the full tool kit of the poet’s craft, really—which rush over one another, each its own surprise, and retain that marvelous immediacy of their creation.
And yet, if these poems sharpen their intelligence against the edge of sense, they never abandon the centres of thematic and formal gravity—the latter in the propulsion of the nearly Shakespearean iambic variations of the lines (it’s almost impossible to read these poems silently), and the former in the speaker’s ghostly vision of Hanshiro, the grief and poverty stricken samurai, who arrives at the hypocritical and unjust court of a clan lord with a request for the ritual of harakiri, wherein “the body open itself with itself.” Hanshiro, however, remains a ghost, a presiding spirit in Kennedy’s sequence, often receding into the shade; in his place is a rucksack’s worth of films and paintings and pop-cultural paraphernalia—a “rattle-bag of detritus”—summoned because, well, who knows? Kennedy displays a markedly generous aesthetic: nothing seems excluded, and anything is a candidate for illumination. “Sometimes I imagine other objects—still just as / radiant—rising in place of the sun: for example there is a / mini-van […], there is a flower-pot […], there is a Samsung microwave, and there is a corpse, of course.” Yes, that corpse. Hence the seriousness of this work where, in the end, and in submission, Hanshiro “surrenders to the condemned as the / condemned.”
A passionate and exacting meditation on the quest for spiritual emptiness and the beauty of integrity in a time of moral destitution. There is deep grief in this work pointing to joy in transcendent measure.
Hand-set in Monotype Deepdene, cast 16/18 on the late, great Jim Rimmer's Super Caster, from seriously cranky matrices [ on kind loan from Jerry Kelly ], during the sweltering early months of summer 2015.
Printed into 7 shades of Zerkall Ingres, and with an unfortunate little mouse engraved into wood by Wesley Bates, based on a drawing by Christopher Hoy. The binding, in quarter goat with matching tips, was designed by Jason Dewinetz and executed by Alanna Simenson. The edition is 35, with a handful of sets in sheets for private distribution. All signed by the author.
5.25" × 8.75", 20pp. 2014 $100
"Here are six exquisite meditations—unflinching poem-portraits of a poet’s loved ones. The extracts are startling in both their matter-of-fact discussions of “friends & family” and also in their lyrical and philosophical command. The poems are marked by an “I” that glimpses beauty in the everyday—a baby son’s hands are “like hummingbirds”—and yet the poems are also impressively intellectual in the sense that they trouble, and even slash at, the surrounding lyricism with fundamental questions: “what qualifies connection?” or “what are words?” So Friends & Family is an at once boldly personal and cerebral work. It draws superb portraits of those who are broken and those who are thriving—and it wonders brilliantly at the limits and possibilities of our most important relationships.
Hand-set in Stern, Jim Rimmer's last original metal typeface—but that's a ridiculous understatement. Some of the type was cast by Jim in 2009, while the bulk was cast anew from the original matrices (kindly loaned by the folks at the C.C. Stern Typefoundry) here at the Greenboathouse Press. But that still doesn't cut it. The type was cast in very short bursts from Jim's rather cantankerous Monotype Super Caster, which moved from Jim's shop here to Vernon after his untimely death in 2010. After much wrestling with the beast, the type was finally cast, each individual sort being hand-finished on a rubbing stone, and at last set into pages with the skilled assistance of Caitlin Voth. Printed on lovely handmade paper from Tim Barrett and his crew at the University of Iowa Center for the Book, then bound into a stiff wrapper of Cave paper in an edition of 45, this being number...
Limited to 45 numbered copies, all signed by the author.
7.5" × 12.5", 36pp. 2012-13 $400
One of Ondaatje’s most personal writings, Tin Roof is an extended meditation, shifting fluidly away from and back into the material world. On the surface it is a diary of escape as a husband hides away in a small tropical cabin, wrestling with the moral complexities of leaving his marriage. But the poem is also an intimate portrayal of a writer struggling to find the precarious balance between the demands and passions of both art and life. An aesthetic tour de force, Tin Roof is an intense and moving submersion into the poetics of “pain, loneliness, deceit and vanity.”
The production of this book was also rather intense and turbulent, making it, without a doubt, the most challenging publication Greenboathouse Press has taken on.
In a way, this project began more than 20 years ago, with my first reading of Ondaatje’s Secular Love, a book that had a major influence both on my own writing and my sense of literary aesthetics. An appreciation for the delicacy and precision of his early work has directly contributed to my interest in, and efforts as a book designer and printer, and, at some point, I knew I’d have to produce an edition of Ondaatje’s writing.
Tin Roof first appeared as a small pamphlet produced in 1982 by the Island Writing Series (Lantzville, BC), now a rather scarce item. It then appeared as the third section of the poetic “novel” Secular Love (Coach House, 1986), eventually landing in Ondaatje’s collection of selected poems The Cinnamon Peeler. This new edition of the poem turned out to be a rather epic adventure into the technical side of fine-press printing, which has made all other Greenboathouse Press projects seem like practice sessions for the real thing. For a rather thorough description of the process, and to see a variety of images related to the technical side of production, please have a look at this page.
Hand-set in Jan van Krimpen's Romanée, cast in 1928 and hauled back from Holland in 2011, in two different heights (.928 & .933), and milled, on a modified Ludlow Super-surfacer, to the lower stature. As the elusive Romanée italic was nowhere to be found, the italic here is Monotype Van Dijck, shimmed and underlayed to align with the foundry type. The book was prepared with the assistance of Christina Hebert & Cailtin Voth, and printed on a Vandercook 15-21 at the Greenboathouse Press in Vernon, BC, during the sweltering heat and endless rains of Okangan summer & fall.
The page paper was hand-made for the edition by Reg Lissel in Vancouver, and the wrapper by Cave Paper in Minneapolis. The binding design is by Jason Dewinetz, executed by Alanna Simenson. Held in a slipcase covered with black Japanese silk.
Limited to 65 numbered copies, all signed by the author.
6" × 9.75", 32pp. 2012 $200
ISBN: 1-894744-32-2 978-1-894744-32-4
Morison's classic essay on the foundational principles of typographic design first appeared as the entry for "typography" in the 1929 Encyclopedia Britannica, then, in a revised form, in Volume VII of The Fleuron (1930), followed by a variety of editions, each including minor changes, leading to the 1946 Balkema edition from which the text was taken for this edition. Laying out the ground rules in Morison's distinctive upright British, the essay is both an informative, entertaining, and seminal examination of the do's-and-don'ts of proper typesetting and printing.
The original plan for this project was to hand-set the entire book in foundry Romanée (designed by Jan van Krimpen), which is the type that I brought back from Holland last year, and I've been very eager to put it to use. However, on setting the first two test pages, I discovered that the 500lbs of the 14pt size consists of two heights (.928 and .933), and so I'm going to have to mill down the .933 to get all of the 14pt to the same height-to-paper.
Thus, in order to get the season's printing underway, the front and end matter were hand-set in metal (the 12pt & 16pt is all .928), and the body of the book in the 14pt digital revival of Romanée that I designed 2 years ago. The latter was printed from polymer, offering an opportunity to examine both the original metal and the digital revival in close proximity.The book has been printed into handmade Magnani Velatta, hand-sewn and bound into a stiff wrapper of the same stock, the binding executed by Alanna Simenson.
The wrapper, half-title, copyright, preface and colophon are set in Jan van Krimpen's foundry Romanée, cast in Haarlem, The Netherlands, by the House of Enschedé in 1928. The 48pt initials are foundry Lutetia, with a single 72pt digital Romanée initial to kick things off. The rest of the book is set in a digital revival of the Romanée types, with the specimen on page 11 in a digital revival of Lutetia, both redrawn and developed into OpenType fonts by Jason Dewinetz. The book was printed into handmade Magnani Velata on a Vandercook 15-21 at the Greenboathouse Press in Vernon, BC. The binding was designed by Jason Dewinetz and executed by Alanna Simenson in Vancouver.
Thanks are due to David McKitterick of Cambridge University, Stanley Morison's executor, for his kind permission to reprint the essay. The text here presented is taken from the 1946 Dutch edition, printed by Joh. Enschedé en Zonen for Balkema-Vijf Ponden Pers-Five Pound Press.
Limited to 50 numbered copies.
6.5" × 10.5", 40pp. 2011 $150
ISBN: 1-894744-31-4 978-1-894744-31-7
A long poem based on the French Romantic artist Theodore Géricault and the figural studies leading to his famous painting "The Raft of the Medusa" of the early 19th century. Blending and drifting between biographical and historical research on the painter and the present day narrator's own exploration of the artist's disturbing process, Dewinetz writes an examination of intimacy and obsession, working towards an understanding of the conflict between desire and possession, both of beauty and of knowledge.
This new edition includes a variety of extracts from art history texts to provide context for the poem, as well as two line-illustrations printed from polymer, and two full colour reproductions of the paintings produced with an archival Epson printer.
“Dewinetz is a scholar as well as an artist, and the intellectual power of his long poem is as evident and as demanding as its expression is deceptively simple. He is concerned here to demonstrate how critical ideas can help shape and support creative insights, as well as being vivified by them. This extended anecdote of the creative process is a knowledgeable exploration of the sources and shape of knowledge itself.”
Historical front matter (pages i–xvi) set in LTC Garamont Text and printed from polymer, all other pages hand-set in Frederic Goudy's Garamont (cast by Jim Rimmer in New Westminster, BC) and printed on a Vandercook 15-21 at the Greenboathouse Press in Vernon, BC.
Pages [i–viii] printed on Zerkall Book Wove, the rest on Arches Johannot. The endsheets are handmade from India, and the wrapper is St Armand from Montréal. French-sewn into a concertina and wrapped in a stiff paper cover, the binding is by Alanna Simenson.
The edition is limited to 50 copies, all signed by the author.
7" × 5", 20pp. 2011 $50
ISBN: 1-894744-30-6 978-1-894744-30-0
One of the great Canadian poet's last manuscripts, this quirky yet poignant series of 12 poems dances and laughs at the horror of the blank page, exploring through a variety of literary terms (as titles) the ins and outs of pushing through the block.
was, is, well, I don't even know what to write here... Poet and novelist, Governor General's award winning author of The Studhorse Man, Badlands, The Man From the Creeks and, of course, Collected Field Notes, Kroetsch was a figurehead of Canadian writing, not to mention a damn nice guy. If your shelf isn't lined with his books, it should be.
Set by hand in Jim Rimmer's Hannibal Olstyle, Frederic Goudy's Thirty & Garamont, then printed on a Vandercook 15-21 at the Greenboathouse Press in Vernon, BC. The page stock is Zerkall Book Wove with a wrapper of Japanese Cedar Bark. Limited to 55 numbered copies, all signed by the author.
5.875" × 7.75", 80pp. 2010 $300
ISBN: 1-894744-29-2 978-1-894744-29-4
This is a project that's been in the works for over three years: a reproduction of the original drawings of Felice Feliciano's Alphabetum Romanum, an instructional treatise on the correct rendering of Roman capital letters, writtten by Feliciano in c.1460.
I first encountered the drawings in a facimile edition, beautifully produced by the Officina Bodoni (exactly 500 years after the original was created), at a book exhibit at the Buffalo Public Library in 2008. The letterforms simply grabbed me by the throat and I've been unable to catch my breath ever since. As I was, at the time, unable to obtain a copy of the 1960 edition (although I've found one since), I decided simply to publish an edition, if for no other reason than that I would then have a copy myself. From that point began a 2-year process of collecting materials on Feliciano and his alphabet, as well as redrawing his letters from scratch.
The letterforms are based on the original drawings of Felice Feliciano, c.1460, reproduced by Jason Dewinetz and printed from over 90 polymer plates on a Vandercook 15-21 flatbed cylinder press. The paper is Magnani Biblos, milled in Italy and generously donated by Caryl Peters of the Frog Hollow Press in Victoria, while the cover and endsheets were handmade by Reg Lissel in Vancouver. The text types are ATF Cloister Old Style and Monotype Cloister Italic, designed in 1913 by Morris Fuller Bendon, inspired by the 15th-century types of Nicolas Jenson. The Monotype sorts were generously cast by Jim Rimmer in New Westminster, BC. The type was set, the inks mixed, and pages printed and the book bound during the long, warm days of Okanagan summer. Produced in an edition of 115 copies: 100 numbered copies for sale and 15 ( I - XV ) for private distribution.
5.75" × 9.75", 28pp. 2010 $100
ISBN: 1-894744-28-4 978-1-894744-28-7
Light & Char is a series of 15 prose poems, each playing within and without the confines of binaristic thinking to explore the productivities stored in the nexuses of, say, yes-no worldviews, right-wrong logics, abstract-concrete divisions, happy-sad categorizations, life-death paradigms. Much of the umph of the poems is derived from a poetic strategy of what-ifs: what if nails were earthworms, what if skyscrapers grew down from the clouds, what if knives could breathe? The title of the collection – as it invokes both illumination and darkness, whiteness and blackness, growth and decay &c. – necessarily places its emphasis on the cobra-like tension of the ampersand.
Set by hand in Frederic Goudy’s Garamont (cast by Jim Rimmer in New Westminster, BC) and printed on a Vandercook 15-21 at the Greenboathouse Press in Vernon, BC, as May rains give way to warm spring sun. Printed on Magnani Velatta and bound into a stiff paper wrapper handmade by Reg Lissel in Vancouver. The edition is limited to 115 copies: 95 numbered copies for sale, and 20 copies (I-XX) for private distribution, all signed by the author.
3.125" × 4.875", 32pp. 2009 $50
ISBN: 1-894744-25-X 978-1-894744-25-6
JonArno Lawson's poem And That Was That is reminiscent of Robert Creeley's early poetry. In terse and playful lines, a speaker describes a conversation, the subject of which is never stated. Instead the subject is only described as "this" or "that." The poem's power lies in the fact that we assume we know what the conversation is about (it's pretty obvious..."Let's / give this / another / chance"). Of course, we can all guess, but in the end the only thing that matters is that the conversation happened. That lingering ambiguity is what makes the poem.
Photos: Images of the book in production here...
The text is hand-set in 14pt Cloister Old Style, with the same from polymer for the wrapper. Page stock, cover and wrapper are Arches Johannot.
6.75" × 9.75", 20pp. 2009 $65
ISBN: 1-894744-26-8 978-1-894744-26-3
It could be said of Matt Robinson's Against the Hard Angle that truth bends around its object. The poems are direct but leave the reader with a sense that something is unspoken. Spoiled milk, congealed blood from an injury, a workbench. Just when you might think these poems are parochial, Robinson writes of a delay in an airport. There is a range of subject-matter and a range of experience in these poems. And in their understatement, Robinson's poems feel contemporary. Objects are used to hint at human relationships, relationships perhaps difficult to discuss, haunted by an unspoken pessimism. Everything in here is more than it seems.
Photos: Images of the book in production here...
The text is hand-set in 14pt Spectrum, with display type printed from polymer. Page stock is Magnani Velata, with a wrapper of handmade cotton by Reg Lissel in Vancouver. Text printed letterpress in 2 colours throughout.
5.75" × 9.75", 28pp. 2009 $75
ISBN: 1-894744-27-6 978-1-894744-27-0
Jessica Hiemstra-van der Horst's Anatomy for the Artist is many things at once. A suite of poems with accompanying illustrations, it follows the tradition of ut pictura poesis. As meditations on the relationship between art and poetry, they are sophisticated and yet these poems do much more as well. They consider the ingredients of our lives: phone calls to mothers, a love affair, line-ups, cooking. The suppleness of bodies, how we imagine them, how we depict them, how we desire others, how this becomes an art: this is the meat of Hiemstra-van der Horst's suite.
Photos: Images of the book in production here...
The text is hand-set in 14pt Perpetua with lettering by the artist for display (printed from polymer). The illustrations are giclée prints from an Epson 3800 Pro using pigment-based archival inks. Page stock is Mohawk Superfine, with a flyleaf and wrapper of handmade cotton from India. Text printed letterpress in 2 colours throughout.