Old Poems, New Forms

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Old Poems, New Forms

During some Spring Cleaning at the Press a few weeks ago, I rediscovered a sweet small project that had somehow gotten buried by other works-in-progress. 

“Overnight on Abiding-Integrity River”

an unfolding poem

Ancient Chinese poetry has long been an enjoyment of mine, particularly poems translated by David Hinton. And a favorite author that Hinton translates beautifully is the early T’ang Dynasty poet Meng Hao-jan (689-740 C.E.).

One of Meng’s crystalline four-line poems struck me as a lovely candidate for a miniature book. At 2-inches square and a half-inch thick, this unfolding journey is small in size but large in scope. Meng’s linked, sensory lines seemed to naturally suit themselves to a linked, tactile format.

I set the poem in metal type, printed it on my trusty foot-treadled Golding press, and cut-and-assembled the paper pieces by hand to form the book. It’s a very limited edition — just 21 books. $15 each.

If you'd like a little ancient new book of poetry, click here.

Many thanks,

St Brigid Press

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Thoreau and Friends

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Thoreau and Friends

Hi dear Friends of the Press,

As the temperatures rise on this eve of the Summer solstice, we are rocketing along with new work here at St Brigid Press. Thanks for taking a moment to hear about it!

Recently we turned our attention to a new book honoring someone with a Very Big Birthday coming up in July ~ Henry David Thoreau turns 200 on the 12th! 

Thoreau's birthplace, the Wheeler Minot Farmhouse in Concord, MA. Photo credit: John Phelan

Thoreau's birthplace, the Wheeler Minot Farmhouse in Concord, MA. Photo credit: John Phelan

What began as a small commemorative project has since evolved into a multi-faceted book. As Emily’s research into Thoreau’s life and writings progressed and as local, national, and international news unfolded, we began to see a strong connection between Thoreau’s work and that of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr., and began to feel the timely resonance of all three men today. 

Turns out, Thoreau’s famous essay “Civil Disobedience” had a profound influence on both Gandhi and King. In different times, places, and circumstances, each man developed a philosophy and a practice of nonviolent resistance to injustice. Those ideas and their implementation lead to powerful individual and societal change, and are as relevant today as in the 19th and 20th centuries.

So, we’d like to introduce the new publication due out soon:

A Handbook for Creative Protest: Thoreau, Gandhi, & King in Conversation

The Handbook will present selected excerpts by each author, along with a Preface and commentary by Emily Hancock.

At about 35 pages, it proved a bit too large for us to accomplish at this time via hand-set metal type, so we decided on a unique and flexible “hybrid” design: The interior pages have been digitally typeset and designed by Emily and will be printed offset at a local shop; Emily will then letterpress print the covers and hand-sew the book here at the Press. This hybrid design lets us allow the full text to be what it needs to be, and yet still incorporates signature elements of the handmade book that are important to us and to you. 

Our fingers are crossed for a late-July release. Stay tuned!

If you would like to put your name on the pre-order list, please email Emily at stbrigidpress@gmail.com 

Many thanks, and all the best,

St Brigid Press

Action from principle, the perception and the performance of right, changes things and relations; it is essentially revolutionary.
— Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience"

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Printing with Nature

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Printing with Nature

Hello Friends of the Press,

Last year we published Reverie, a little book poems that featured illustrations printed from grasses growing in our field. I loved the process and the look of these nature prints (which I first learned about from John Ryder's wonderful book Printing for Pleasure), and they came immediately to mind when I began to think about what illustrations might accompany our newest production ~ Wind Intervals, a chapbook of poems by Jeff Schwaner.

Collected and dried last autumn from the tree outside our print shop door, I had a stash of beautiful Japanese maple leaves under weights in a corner of the shop. Many of Jeff's poems include the presence and imagery of trees, including maples. It seemed like a perfect match.

So, this past week I began adding prints made directly from these dried leaves to the pages of Wind Intervals. Here's a little peek at the process ~ enjoy!

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Wind Chimes

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Wind Chimes

On the heels of this week's snow and sleet, the wind has come howling in. Today at the Press we're feeding the woodstove, catching up on reading and writing, and going over proofs of Wind Intervals, the new chapbook of poetry by Jeff Schwaner.

What is the sound of a loosening of leaves
like forgetting hands just before they drop
to our sides?
— Jeff Schwaner, in the title poem "Wind Intervals"

One of our favorite poets, Jeff brings to his work a deeply engaging mixture of observation, introspection, and connection. We are honored to be publishing his next chapbook of seven poems, carefully selected and printed by Emily Hancock.

Recently, we invited Jeff to the Press to record some of his poems. Let these whet your whistle for the rest of the book!

Wind Intervals will be published in two formats, a Standard Edition and a Special Edition. We are currently taking pre-orders of both.

STANDARD EDITION

  • 150 numbered copies
  • hand-set in Bembo types (cast by the Bixler Letterfoundry in NY)
  • two original illustrations
  • letterpress printed on our 1909 Golding Pearl treadle press
  • Mohawk Superfine text paper
  • Hahnemühle Bugra covers
  • hand-bound at the Press
  • $24

SPECIAL EDITION

  • 35 signed and numbered copies
  • hand-set in Bembo types (cast by the Bixler Letterfoundry in NY)
  • two original illustrations
  • letterpress printed on our 1909 Golding Pearl treadle press
  • Revere Book mouldmade text paper
  • St Armand handmade covers
  • hand-bound at the Press
  • $35

To pre-order a copy, please email Emily Hancock at stbrigidpress@gmail.com, or fill out the form below.

Mark your calendars ~ the official book launch for Wind Intervals will be April 28th, at 7pm at Black Swan Books in Staunton, Virginia! (Pre-orders will ship that day.)

Thanks Friends, and hold onto your hats!

St Brigid Press

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"Wind Intervals" chapbook

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The People's Press

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The People's Press

The constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press is something we’ve always taken seriously here at St Brigid Press. We’re grateful to be able to practice our crafts of printing and poetry in a free spirit and a free society. 

It’s important, however, to continue to be vigilant ~ to remind each other and our elected representatives of how precious and vital are our democracy and freedom. We have many wise voices, past and present, who stood up (or, like Rosa Parks, sat down) and spoke out for our inalienable rights. 

In honor of their voice ~ your voice, my voice, our collective American voices ~ we’ve created a series called The People’s Postcards.  

Alexander Hamilton was an immigrant from the Caribbean who, in his early 20s, found a job as an assistant to George Washington. He eventually became a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, helped author the Federalist Papers, and served as the first US Secretary of the Treasury. The quote on our postcard was part of a speech Hamilton gave at the New York state convention in Poughkeepsie, where he urged representatives to ratify the US Constitution.

Born a slave in Maryland about 1818, Frederick Douglass became one of the most ardent and eloquent human rights activists and orators in US history, speaking and writing on behalf of African-Americans, Native Americans, women, and immigrants. He also became a government official and newspaper publisher. The above quote was part of a speech Douglass gave in the District of Columbia on the 23rd anniversary of emancipation in DC.


Friends, we are the WE in “We the People…” Let’s keep up the good work of forming a more perfect union. Together.


The People’s Postcards

  • letterpress printed by yours truly
  • postal service-compliant at 6” x 4.25”
  • pre-stamped! — ready to pen and send
  • sturdy bamboo cardstock paper
  • $8.50 for a set-of-10 stamped postcards
  • order direct from Emily Hancock at stbrigidpress@gmail.com

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