Fold, staple, repeat:
above/ground press at thirty (part two of two,
Poetics of the Handmade
April 2018 – November 2022
It has been pointed out to me that how I physically produce chapbooks is a bit ridiculous. Well, maybe not ridiculous, but certainly antiquated. Occasionally I’ll have an author request I email a final proof of their chapbook before it heads off to the printer, not understanding that such isn’t easily done, although I have shifted to sending pdfs of my original .doc files. I don’t design chapbooks using programs, whether Adobe InDesign, or whatever else. I honestly don’t even know what the options are. Since 1993, I’ve been utilizing the simplest of tools to make chapbooks, journals and broadsides: scissors and tape.
I don’t specifically recall how I began to make books this way. I suspect it was the most obvious option: building originals using cut-and-paste methods, and then delivering those originals to the photocopy shop down the street.
Given the look of my small books, this might not surprise anyone, but I really consider this to be the least interesting element of my publishing process. Originally, the logic was one of access. I barely had a working computer when I was twenty-three, so putting together originals for book-making via scissors and tape seemed the simplest option. Glue doesn’t erase the potential shadows, so tape became the staple. Over the years, it became a matter of habit, of rote: if it works, why learn a new process? I could spend that same time accomplishing further work. I have much to do. During a 2019 visit Christine and I made to Picton, Ontario, the look on poet and publisher Leigh Nash’s face when she discovered that this was how I made chapbooks: you do what? I was increasing my own workload, she said.
Yeah, Christine offered: how you make books is strange. Antiquated, really. She reminds me, also, that others have made similar faces when they discover how I make. I have become quite adept at sliding tape across lines, erasing shadows that might emerge where page meets page. I can do this quickly, efficiently, at our peninsula, even as our wee girls play, or eat lunch. It doesn’t take long.
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