Thursday, July 24, 2008


Kyle Schlesinger launched a message this morning wondering if I was familiar with Jeremy James Thompson's letterpress work. The work is quite extraordinary, Thompson insisting on rethinking letterpress broadsides not as single-author projects but as truly collaborative projects beginning with a poem and sprawling outward to include poetic and critical responses to that poem. This approach to broadside design is truly dialogic, and Thompson's use of color bold, asking as much of a reader's eyes as the work asks of the mind.

I always find myself completely taken by Kyle's attention to the forms and technologies that mediate texts. For him the bibliographic and material aspects of a poem scarcely ever take a backseat to the textual or intellectual production of a poem.

Kyle's recently invested tremendous energy in promoting the work of Ted Greenwald — and this coupled with countless essays, lectures and constant blog postings on the work of bookmakers, publishers and letterpress artists suggests a lot about his sense of poetry and its relation to material production. For him the proximity between the textual production of a poem and its material production collapses — maybe not entirely, but enough to suggest that a poem is best thought through the limits or possibilities of its material production, through the complex of technologies which first brought it into being and carry it across time.

Mimeo Mimeo, which he coedits with Jed Birmingham, focuses almost exclusively on bookmaking and the material production of the poem. As he and Birmingham write in the inaugural issue of the journal:

Mimeo Mimeo is a forum for critical and cultural perspecives on the Mimeograph Revolution, Artists' Books and the Literary Fine Press .... this periodical features essays, interviews, images, correspondence, artifacts, manifestos, poems, and reflections on the graphic and material conditions of contemporary poetry and language arts. Taking our cue from Steve Clay and Rodney Phillips' ground-breaking book, A Secret Location on the Lower East Side and its corresponding exhibition at the New York Public Library, we see the mimeograph as one among many printing technologies (letterpress, offset, silkscreen, photocopiers, computers, etc.) that enabled poets, artists and editors to become independent publishers. We have no allegiance to any particular medium or media.

The journal includes images which compliment each essay or interview but these images also reinforce the last line of their mission statement. There is no privileging of one medium or media over another. From Jed Birmingham's essay on Jeff Nuttall's My Own Mag to Kyle's long and electric interview with Alastair Johnston, images are used to great effect, covering without discrimination a wide range of approaches to publishing and book making. Fucking brilliant.

Digital images of the entire run of Nuttall's My Own Mag can be viewed through the Reality Studio site.