Hello all! Welcome to our first news update. Our website is now one month old. It took some time, and a wonderful web designer, to make it happen, but I’m so glad it’s here. It has broadened our community. I hope you’ll sign up for future news, by leaving your email address in the box on this page. I promise to limit the number of posts. I’ve met many new Friends and fellow lovers of poetry, letterpress, nature, reading, books, and writing. We have much in common to celebrate.
I’m very excited about printing projects ahead this year. I’ll keep authors a surprise for now, but I know you are going to love them as much as I do. I’m thrilled! More on projects as they unfold!
As for now, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Month! NPM was established by the American Academy of Poets (www.poets.org) to remind us that “poets have an integral role to play in our culture and that poetry matters.”
Poet Robert Pinsky’s words ring true, “Poetry takes care of itself. All art does — that is paramount. In a survival race, I’m quite sure poetry will long outlast reality TV and Twitter.”
Poetry sustains us here at October Press Letterpress. My greatest joy as a printer starts with falling in love with a poem or prose selection.
George Ella Lyon’s poem “Where I’m From” connects us to our own past and identity. Written in 1993, it has been widely used as a writing prompt, encouraging others to remember, write and share. In 2019 it was featured on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition”. Listeners were invited to submit their own “Where I’m From” poems. 1,400 submissions were received in 48 hours!
For our broadside of “Where I’m From”, we worked with artist and wood engraver Wesley Bates (www.wesleybates.com) to create this exquisite illustration. He chose to highlight forsythia and Dutch elm featured in the poem. The illustration was printed directly from his engraved wood block.
Letter by letter…..“it tasted like beets…”
George Ella’s new collection of poetry, Back to the Light, was just published by the University Press of Kentucky. Congratulations George Ella!
Barbara Kingsolver recently featured our broadside of “Love Poem, with Birds” on social media. She wrote the poem for her husband, and loved the broadside so much, she surprised him with it at Christmas. Her social media post created a flurry of activity and a FLOCK of orders! For that, we are most grateful.
To illustrate the text, Joanne Price (www.starpointestudio.com) engraved the seven warblers (yes, SEVEN) featured in the poem. Barbara insisted her warblers be accurate. No problem for Joanne’s expertise. I’m pretty sure I got the color of yellow ink mixed perfectly for the lone feather in front of Barbara’s name.
“Love Poem, with Birds” can be found in Barbara’s new collection How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons), HarperCollins, 2020.
For more good news, our “Solstice” poet, Dianne Lee Moomey, also has a new collection! Love’s House. (www.dianeleemoomeyart.com)
Well, here’s to our new website, our first newsletter, new Friends, and National Poetry Month! Keep checking in with us, and don’t forget to visit your independent book stores! They need our support!
I’ll leave you with this, because I love it.
Poetry is the art of silence,
the art of knowing when to stop
a word or phrase and let it hang
like a sheet billowing on the line.
Opening sentence from “On Silence”
– Maurice Manning, Railsplitter. Copper Canyon Press, 2019
Little Poem Written at Five O’Clock in the Morning
All this violence: wars and cruelties–
collective and individual–
carnage of all kinds,
now as always
back to the beginning of time.
Our kind endlessly slaughters itself;
our appetite for self-destruction is boundless.
Yet and still every day the sun rises,
white clouds roll across the sky,
vegetables get planted and grow,
and late in the afternoon someone
sits quietly with a cup of tea.
-David Budbill, from Happy Life, Copper Canyon Press, 2011