The first copy of The Moon’s Answer, hand-sewn on June 9, 2016.

I’m proud to announce a new limited edition, illustrated book from Egress Studio Press featuring a single love poem: The Moon’s Answer by Lana Ayers.

Moon'sAnswerProject-02

The drawing table, with pen, nib, ink, and mess.

I decided to illustrate The Moon’s Answer so the the poem’s presentation would be on a darkened moonlit page. The double-page spreads were drawn with a nib on a dip pen, and one and a half bottles of waterproof India ink. After many hours of drawing the illustrations, this book is finally in production mode! I’ve been working on finishing up the double-page spread pen & ink illustrations for quite a while. So many interruptions(!), but the drawings are now completed, photographed, and reproduced in the layout. The book idea started out as being printed in black only, but as I began looking at what I could actually do with it, I decided to add a bit of color throughout. I don’t want to go into many details about the poem itself, except that it is a poem I enjoyed working with very much.

Moon'sAnswerProject-2344

Title page detail.

As many of you know, Lana Ayers is a poet, a fiction writer, a teacher, and a publisher, among other things, such as mathematician and lover of strange flavors of ice cream. She has supported the poetry community in Western Washington for over a decade, and has provided substantial encouragement for many individual writers.

Moon'sAnswerProject-3

The illustrations are drawn so the tree-line runs from one page to the next, making an accordion-bound book possible.

The final book will be published in two limited-editions, both handmade. There will be one hundred copies in a square-spined soft cover, and a dozen hard covers. Some of the hard covers will be more art-book-like than others. Each copy of both the hard and soft covers will be signed by the poet, Lana Ayers, and the illustrator, Anita K. Boyle (me). Almost all of them will be offered for sale soon. I plan to have them ready to go out the door by the end of July.

Moon'sAnswerProject-2337

The center spread, hand-sewn.

The first to be published will be the soft cover edition, which will include handmade endpapers. The binding will be hand-sewn with linen threads. There will be a wrap-around cover. The handmade paper uses cotton linters, recycled papers from Egress Studio, and contains lavender fibers (from the plants at the south side of the studio). Naturally dyed with buttercups, the endpapers are a color that is suggestive of the yellow moon. The book size is nine inches tall and six and a half inches wide, and has thirty-two pages.

Moon'sAnswerProject-2339

The title page on the right, handmade paper on the left.

To finish all the hard covers may take a little longer than late July, but I’ll try my best. Some of them will use the same papers as the soft cover edition. But others from the hard cover edition might be made entirely of handmade papers. I say “might” because I need to make at least one book in order to see if it can be done. I’m planning, too, that some of the hard covers would use an accordion fold, so that the illustrations can be unfolded in such a way that the poem could run continuously in a straight line (or in a circle). I’ll attempt to get one of those ready by the beginning of June. Wish me luck! As soon as they are ready for sale, I’ll put them on my website, egressstudio.com, and make an announcement.

Moon'sAnswerProject-102741

The timer is there because I work in sixty minute increments, so I remember to stand up and move around.

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The collaborative poetry book, Lit-Wads, by James Bertolino and Anita K. Boyle was first published in a limited-edition, handmade version with illustrations. Since then, Jim and I recorded all the poems, and I made an interactive pdf version of the book. The table of contents will send you to individual poems of your choice. Once on a page with a poem, there’s a button that you can poke to hear one or the other of us reading the poem. Or you can push a different button and return to the Table of Contents for choose another poem. This version of Lit-Wads is now for sale at: http://www.egressstudio.com/the-bookstore.html

The original, hand sewn version is still available until it is out of print, and is also available at the above link.

LWcover

In the future, most books by Egress Studio Press will be handmade in illustrated hard cover and soft cover editions, followed later by an e-book, like Lit-Wads. I’m currently working on double-spread illustrations for a book call The Moon’s Answer by Lana Ayers, which I’m hoping to publish before the end of this year. And, for past books, I’ll be adding audio to the layout and creating other audio books.

 

Vanishing Ice, Vanishing Species, and Our Human Spirit:
A Poet’s Perspective and Poems

A reading and lecture by poet and science wrtier Priscilla Long will happen on Friday, Febuary 28 at 7:00 p.m. $5 suggested donation. Old City Hall, Whatcom Museum, 121 Prospect Street, Bellingham

For every poet reading for The Poet As Art, I’ve made a poetry broadside (one-sided page with a poem on it) to give out free to the audience, so they can take a little of the evening home with them. Priscilla came up to see the Vanishing Ice exhibit at the Whatcom Museum, which I’m pretty sure inspired her to write the poem “Glacier Peak Elegy.” Here’s what her poem’s broadside looks like.

Broadside-5373

You can probably read the poem aloud from the photo to hear how wonderful it is. Simply beautiful. It is a little larger than most broadsides I’ve made for the series. There will be about fifty copies for audience members to pick up. The audience is often larger than that, so if you want a broadside, I’d encourage you to arrive a little early. By the way, I didn’t draw the art: it is a public domain illustration of a glacier.

—Anita K. Boyle

Image

Tomorrow! Thursday, January 16, starting at 5 pm, an unusual event will happen at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher building (250 Flora Street, Bellingham, WA). First, we’ll walk around the museum with a docent who will share details about the artworks in the awesome and beautiful Vanishing Ice exhibit. This might sound like regular routine at a museum, but this exhibit brings unexpected outstanding insights to you about the world we live it from many different artistic perspectives. Right after the tour, we’ll be hosted by Chris Jarmick who will not only read poetry, but will give prompts to his audience for writing their own poems. Jarmick will inspire you to write! The poems might be about the art exhibit, or the ideas the art suggests, or possibly about a surprising detail that the docent might have mentioned. We can all come away from this event with our own poems.

Anyone who attends this event, can also take home a poem by Chris Jarmick—a poetry broadside designed by Anita Boyle, Egress Studio, that looks something like like this:

Image

The broadside poem will be available at no charge to this event’s audience. In addition, anyone who writes a poem, can sign up to be invited to a poetry reading during National Poetry Month: April. The poems at this reading will be from the poets who have written poems at one of four poetry workshops offered by the Whatcom Poetry Series: The Poet As Art.

Hope to see you there.

Anita Boyle and Jim Bertolino

The Poet As Art features Raúl Sánchez and Marjorie Manwaring on Friday March 29, 7 pm. Please join us at the Lucia Douglas Gallery in Bellingham.

Please excuse the improper accent in Raúl's last name in the post card (and poster).

Please excuse the improper accent in Raúl’s last name in the image above (and poster).

Before we start the interview, it would be good to note, as a quick introduction to Raúl Sánchez, that he read at Elliott Bay Book Company last summer, and we’ve been making attempts to set up a reading with him since his book was published.

His  long-awaited debut collection of poems is titled All Our Brown-Skinned Angels (MoonPath Press, 2012), about which Francisco X. Alarcón says:

“I open All Our Brown-Skinned Angels, the new collection of poems by Raúl Sánchez, as a book of intimate, personal prayers. But the prevailing Judeo-Christian theology is turned upside down in these poems. Here, the Earth is sacred … Raúl Sánchez is the contemporary Netzalhuacóyotl of the Northwest, who lives in damp Seattle … and has come out with wondrous poems in praise of life that are liberating prayers for every day.”

All Our Brown-Skinned Angels cover

All Our Brown-Skinned Angels cover

Wet is right! The photo on the event poster is from our pond on Noon Road in Bellingham reaching flood level in March. Or was that late February? At any rate, the level moves up and down so much lately, it’s like the pond is breathing. This is the weather we live with. Well, I digress.

At Elliott Bay, Raúl read with MoonPath Press publisher, poet and fiction writer Lana Hechtman Ayers and the musically inclined poet John Burgess—both fogbound poets from around Puget Sound. I would have liked to have been there, because each of these poets is well worth hearing, and such different writers from each other!

While it has always been important, with current events as they are right now, it may be more crucial than ever to hear the poems of Raúl Sánchez. Hear what he says about his poems in the following interview, and you may see what I mean. He is full of seriousness and humor.

An Interview Raúl Sánchez with for The Poet as Art

What aspects of your experience keep you writing poetry?

There are many experiences I’ve had as an immigrant. Those include relationships, employment, political situations and the diaspora away from México.

Are there features of your life that have run contrary to you being, or continuing to be, a poet?

Yes, the first one will be that I do not have formal education from any educational institution in the USA. That makes me feel incapable to write Poetry. However, I started journaling and writing notes from the travels I did between 1981 and 1994. One of those years I spent in India. At one point, I was writing short simple poems that were published in company newsletters and local newspapers. When I was younger, I wrote a couple of political poems for the student movement in Mexico City. In 1996, I decided to join a Latino writers group in Seattle, where I learned more about writing. That is when I decided to get serious about writing poetry.

What is the single most surprising thing you’ve learned about poetry?

Poetry is a medium by which we can express what we see, feel, hear, taste, smell and experience, whether animate or inanimate, in an artistic way by sounding off words in a rhythmic voice.

If you could choose one person, dead or alive, who influenced you as a writer, who would that be? How did he or she impact your writing experience?

Renato Leduc

Renato Leduc

For me it would be Renato Leduc. A French-Mexican Poet, Journalist and signaler for Francisco Villa.

I remember Renato reciting his poems in the middle of my father’s restaurant in Mexico City. I was a young lad then and had no idea what poetry was. Then one day I discovered his poems and stories in an anthology of Mexican poets and writers. On one of my trips to Mexico City, I found his complete works, which were not translated into English. To my delight, I’ve translated one of his poems into English, which was published on-line by Pirene’s Fountain in 2011.

What kind of non-literary books stimulated your poetry?

Having learned English in Mexico City, I would say Dick and Jane. I still have a couple of those books.

The famous Dick and Jane books

The famous Dick and Jane books

Which book of poetry is most important to you and your work as a poet?

Since I have lived in two countries, from México it would be Jaime Sabines’ Poesía Amorosa, and from the USA, Denise Levertov’s Relearning the Alphabet.

What do you believe your readers enjoy most about your work?

Our personal diaspora, connectivity and ethnic identification. Family, migration, the uncertain future and the certainty of the roots that keep us growing.

Raúl Sanchéz, poet

Raúl Sánchez, poet

____________________________

Here is one of Raúl Sánchez’s poems, the one I’ll be making into a poetry broadside. The broadside will be available free at the reading, and we hope you’ll make a donation to help us continue bringing poets to Bellingham.

Every Dress a Decisión
after Elizabeth Austen

My older sister could never
ever decide what to wear
on Friday and Saturday nights

My parents told her too short, too tight
what that meant I didn’t understand
all I know is that my older sister

went away wearing her platform shoes
and skin-tight skirts every time
she could sneak out

after my parents went to bed
and I fell asleep
while watching Superman

Raúl’s comments about his poem:

I went to the Richard Hugo House the night Elizabeth Austen read at the “Cheap Wine and Poetry” series after her book release for Every Dress A Decision. The title of the book stayed with me and triggered a poem thinking about my older sister, who doesn’t exist since I’m the oldest. Perhaps wishful thinking lead to the idea that “If I would’ve had an older sister, that’s what she would’ve done” back in 1969. My editor decided to change the word “Decision” to “Decisión” to add flavor to the poem. I gave the poem to Elizabeth handwritten in Spanish on one of the postcards she made to promote her book.

—-

We hope you join us for this poetry reading at the Lucia Douglas Gallery, which is showing collaborations between the artists Thomas Wood and FishBoy (RR Clark). Strange and wonderful art.

Posted by Anita K. Boyle

Please … Come Sit A While

Enjoy an Evening of Art and Nature
with artist Hannah Viano and poet Anita K. Boyle
Tuesday, April 17
in the Commons Gallery at Sammamish City Hall
and the Sammamish Library.

by Hannah Viano

· Come Look A While at 6:00pm … with artist Hannah Viano touring her exhibit in the Commons Gallery at Sammamish City Hall. Viano offers modern portrayals of locally inspired flora, and landscapes in her exhibition Come Sit A While.
· Come Immerse Yourself A While at 7:00pm … in conversation about nature found around us, extraordinary poetry by Anita K. Boyle and imagine yourself on a Sammamish Walks expedition all in the Sammamish Library. Boyle, author of What the Alder Told Me (MoonPath Press, 2011) will read selected poems.

And Judy Petersen, Sammamish Parks Commission, will share opportunities to come walk a while along the trails.

Notes from Anita K. Boyle:
I am very excited about joining papercut artist Hannah Viano for this event. I love to see the stark and delicate details of papercut art. This event at the gallery is an opportunity for us to hear from an excellent artist who shares her engagement with the natural world through the papercut artform.

by Hannah Viano

I’m looking forward to reading poems at the library as part of this art/poetry event because I’m intrigued with the connections between visual and language art. Knowing that I’m an organizer of a program called “The Poet As Art,” you can easily understand that I enjoy investigating the concepts shared between language and the visual often, including in my own artwork and poetry. The similarities between how an artist renders the world, and how a poet does, can be found in the themes and details they choose to use. How creative people put their works together—using cut paper, watercolor, oil paint, language, or other artistic medium—offers surprising comparisons and contrasts that can build on our understanding of the natural world, as well as each other.

by Hannah Viano

Hannah Viano’s Artist Statement:

In my life art has always been fit in around the edges. It has been a thick roll of paper held open by my bare feet in the sand, with seawater in a dixie cup and the tiny oval watercolors they sell for children. A life filled with boats and islands and oceans left only tidbits of space and time for inks and paper. I was a baby on a cat ketch from block island, and thirty years later had my own son on the water as well. In between I have taught, and rigged, and fished, and lounged, and done science experiments, and felt the lull of the waves on boats of all shapes and sizes from Ketchikan to Cape Horn. I haven’t gotten to art school yet. But, I have tried hard to learn the lessons of how to catch a memory, and save it for another day and another friend to see. Now a mother and sleeping on the land, I have a bit more time and space, and lots of desire to stay a sailor in my heart and in my hands. So I am pouring out those memories old and new .

In this exhibit I took inspiration from voyages and beachcombing done along the shorelines, where waves lap and lash out and leave everything new. To distill these impressions down I use an exacto knife and pieces of black paper. The act of carving out the pictures is a delicious and delicate process that gives itself perfectly to the flowing shapes of wood and water, the way faring a hull feels right in the hands, or a sweetly blossoming bowl on the potters wheel.

Please join Tuesday, April 17 for a journey into our natural and inner landscapes through the perspectives of the artist and poet.

The event is sponsored by the Sammamish Arts Commission, City of Sammamish,
4Culture, the Sammamish Parks Commission and the King County Sammamish Library

by Hannah Viano

For more information:

Hannah Viano – www.devilspursediary.com
Anita Boyle – egressstudiopress.com
Sammamish Walks – www.sammamishwalks.org

A. R. Ammons

One of my life’s great opportunities was to study with the poet A.R. Ammons as an MFA student at Cornell University between 1971 and 1973. We students knew him as Archie. He received the first of two National Book Awards for his Collected Poems: 1951-1971 while I was there listening to everything he said, and the Yale University critic Harold Bloom was busy making him immortal by writing that “No contemporary poet in America is likelier to become a classic than A.R. Ammons.” His second National Book Award was for Garbage in 1993, after which he was awarded a MacArthur “Genius Fellowship.”

There were two pronouncements I remember as though Ammons had uttered them today: the first was what he said to me in his office: “If a poem isn’t going to add-up to anything, it must be interesting at every point.” While he seemed to be saying that my poems didn’t add-up, he was also describing an aesthetic method that I’ve used hundreds of times since. Later that semester he read aloud to the workshop this poem I had submitted for discussion:

The Storm has come again today,
it rages shrill pins.

I hear a pale child moaning alone
near the bottom rocks
of the field.

I feel the blowing wet
bruise her face.

When finished he observed: “I don’t see any way this poem by Mr. Bertolino could be better than it already is.” I felt pretty cocky after that, and rather enjoyed being glared at by the other MFA students. But I had to wonder why Ammons would make that remark in front of my classmates. I then spent much more time reading his poetry, and soon discovered his work effortlessly accomplished some of the elements I was striving for in my own poetry. Here’s a passage from one of Archie’s poems about poetry:

Poetics

not so much looking for the shape
as being available
to any shape that may be
summoning itself
through me
from the self not mine but ours.

He always had a marvelous way of putting things, and often found very simple shapes to embody dazzling ideas. Those shapes were often found close at hand, and mostly from the natural world. It’s hard to imagine a poem by any poet that could more effectively portray a metaphysical concept than this one:

Reflective

I found a
weed
that had a

mirror in it
and that
mirror

looked in at
a mirror
in

me that
had a
weed in it.

In Ammons’ poem “Small Song,” wind plays a key role: as a phenomenon that acts on, then is revealed by reeds. The reeds first are subject to the wind, then have a kind of power over the wind.

Small Song

The reeds give
way to the

wind and give
the wind away

In this last poem, the wind enables the daisies to more fully experience their own loss as the yellow petals leave their stems and are gone.

Loss

When the sun
falls behind the sumac
thicket the
wild
yellow daisies
in diffuse evening shade
lose their
rigorous attention
and
half-wild with loss
turn
any way the wind does
and lift their
petals up
to float
off their stems
and go.

How could any attentive reader fail to feel how sad, but beautiful, it is when something as attentive as these wild things lose their focus and dissipate. Haven’t we all given ourselves over to a power not our own? Haven’t we experienced loss?

James Bertolino


—James Bertolino
A.R. Ammons’ sample poems can be found in
Collected Poems: 1951-1971.