Friday, July 27, 2012

Back to the Dave Eggers Thing, Again

I have the distinct memory of meeting Regula Russelle at a party once and not having a clue who I was talking to, and as a result, instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to learn more about her craft and dedication to great art, making jokes about some of the other guys there.

That said, she seems to be responsible for some of the most meticulous and inspiring creative work in book arts being done in the twin cities. Below, an example from Accordion Collaborations titled House of Possibility which, in addition to being a beautiful object, features the work of poet Joyce Sutphen, our current Minnesota Poet Laureate and a favorite at the store. There aren't that many books I'd show three times on purpose. But this blew me away.

House of Possibility, by Joyce Sutphen. Accordion Collaborations, 2012.

Russelle's also behind Cedar Fence Press which, according to her website, specializes in "letterpress printed books and prints, a few sculptural pieces, a couple of installations. Usually ideas come faster than my ability to give them shape." Tell me about it Regula. Tell me about it.

Lights from Other Windows, by Naomi Shibab Nye. Cedar Fence Press, 2010. 

Next time you find yourself in Common Good Books' poetry section, make sure you know how you got there. And secondly, make sure you check out our selection of books published by Laurel Poetry Collective. The group, begun in 2002, consists of 20 some odd poets and graphic artists of the cites, and makes full-length books and broadsides for each one of its members, with the help of John Pankow from TV's Mad About You. Just kidding. Russelle, again!

Regula Russelle (right), with members of Laurel Poetry Collective,
awkwardly "laughing off" her comment to "work faster."

I would be remiss not to mention our good friends at Vandalia Street Press, who for as long as I've been  in the fold have supplied us with hilarious and heartfelt cards that often say what everyone is thinking.

Admiring all of these examples of new works that give new meaning to great literature got me thinking: Why in the hell would anyone want to put the time and energy into making books, much less chapbooks and broadsides, that don't even come with download codes or contests you can win to have your next book made in China. So I contacted Kate Shuknecht of Broadcraft Press to find out, and here's a bit of what she had to say in response to my first question.

Top 3 reasons we don't make our books in China:

1.) We like to bleed. Maybe I mean this metaphorically with all the hard work and stuff. But when there are needles and paper cuts involved, I have been known to literally bleed for literature.

2.) We like to play with paper. For real. It's fun to make books. Do you think we would do this if it wasn't fun?

3.) We like to collaborate. With each other, with our authors, with the available materials. There's a great deal of joy and creative satisfaction from everyone having input at every step of design and production. 

Eek! Look for the rest of Kate and my's conversation next week, while I give some thought to her alarmingly straightforward question about having fun. In the meantime, read hard, safely.

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