Covering Selections from The Unfollowed: An Event at the Harry Smith Print Shop
The spoons have clattered
The slugs should rattle. We need 88 e’s: Planning for poem 41 in the composing stick. Van Dijck has good feet and the right amount of e’s.
Aren’t children little pears and observant birds
My line to set. The 98.6-degree heat of me warms the cold metal composing stick in my left hand. Let gravity keep the type from tipping into metal confetti. Tilt the plane, but no tailspins. Opposable thumbs are important here. In the California Job Case, b’s and d’s and p’s masquerade as one another. We have kept a dirty case. Aren’t [words] little pears and observant birds. Upside down, but left-to-right, I forget the apostrophe and shimmy it into the line-up, late.
I note that the green blanket is askew again briefly
In her essay, “The Rejection of Closure,” Hejinian writes that “even words in storage, in the dictionary, seem frenetic with activity, as each individual entry attracts to itself other words as definition, example, and amplification.” This feels true of the individual sorts, or letters, in the typecases. The sorts’ faces like little atoms: symbols pulling toward communication. Seeing the scattered sorts unhinges a normative perception of language as locked units.
I have flung my sweater over the banister again
Welcome to the Harry Smith Print Shop. See ghosts of the 2010 fall letterpress class, and their instructor, Julia Seko, move about the Adman cabinets, the typecases, the presses, the dust. Outside, a masked creature smartly positions itself between the compost bins and the printshop’s window. This creature has thumbs, although they are not considered opposable. Looking through the window, the creature observes the animals moving inside the sheltered space. For ease of address, the animals inside the space caption the observer, “Rocky the Raccoon.”
The corn cockle is buoyant
[context not yet found/projected]
There was of course the matter of the curious descent into a mine and the terrible
Paragraphs and collected line-breaks do not occur in nature, but syntax does. We human animals use it, and now the Bengal finch has also been observed to do so. In any case, I’m typing in the middle of a line-break, so the [see below] will be an
ascent of children out of context hauling ore
The brain performs cohesion. It is a merciful composer.
Brevity is not child’s play
In the warm corner next to the rectangular Vandercook SP-15 is an 8×12 Chandler and Price New Style platen press. It’s all circles and momentum, even when it’s standing still. This press is from the 1920s. From 1976–1984, it helped create the handset letterpress chapbooks published by Hejinian’s Tuumba Press.
Today a man in a green leather hat advised me to sink my shovel
Once the composing stick is full with 3–4 lines of set type, it is necessary to move the block to a galley before continuing another line. This block of set type is called a form that will be secured by a string that will wrap around it 3–4 times, anchored by a delicate tuck and pull. Later, there will be magnets and furniture.
If I were to write a letter to a one-time friend now she might not remember who I
was which in any case is not who I continue to be
A broken line, followed through.
Tchaikovsky died when he was 53
Blue and green, a thumbnail pressed to black in the track of the tabletop proof press. Language of the purple bruise moves against keratin. We lock the type.
Frosted Mylar layers itself over sage green. Black lettering communicates through haze. There’s a boomerang or a smirk—it’s the color of baby food. Linoleum carving and type ornaments play on the Mylar. Stylized quotes float to frame poem 41.
Long ago I was once in Seville in a blue dress that could be washed and dried in
In the fall of 2010, we use a Vandercook SP-15 to print the cover for Selections from The Unfollowed. The Vandercook came to us from Santa Fe.
The tales I used to tell myself no longer do
A cover represents and holds the text—a kind of skin. Words represent and hold their object—a kind of skin. Never sealed. And is language then like an organism? The writer sends this organism—the book, poem, etc. into an environment that it will experience on its own. The language appearing unchanged but certainly transforming in each new context is no longer what the writer sent into the world. There is no repetition without adaptation. This organism—like this extended metaphor—affected the context it entered and was affected by it as well. Frenetic with its desires. Aren’t [words] little pears and observant birds—simultaneously yellowing and carrying themselves on the wind.
None of this is true
This is an ending, and I may type, “in closing,” but there will be no closure. Porosity disallows this. In “The Rejection of Closure,” Hejinian writes of this movement, stating that “language itself is never in a state of rest.” She continues: “The meaning of a word in its place derives both from the word’s lateral reach, its contacts with its neighbors in a statement, and from its reach through and out of the text into the outer world, the matrix of its contemporary and historical reference.” It is also true that the materials of sound, the materials of type, and the materials of consciousness are continuous. Watch the type bind itself into a text and then release itself from that form. Echoing into the typecase, the clattering atoms of language. I consider Einstein: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” Remember to always wash your hands. We are using lead type.
Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics presents Lyn Hejinian as the inaugural Allen Ginsberg Visiting Fellow. The fellowship is made possible by the generous support of the Committee on Poetry, founded by the late Allen Ginsberg. Lyn Hejinian’s Selections from The Unfollowed was published in a special edition of 100 copies in commemoration of her visit to the Jack Kerouac School. The cover was designed and printed at the Harry Smith Print Shop by Julia Seko and her class: Jason Calsyn, DeLuna Corbus, Donita Crake, Zach Lussier, Min Jung Oh, Kyle Pivarnik, Janna Plant, and Jamie Pockrandt (Kavyayantra Press); the interior design, printing, and binding was done by Brad O’Sullivan (Smokeproof Press): chapbook printed in fall 2010.