Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Letterpress Poetry

One of the great advantages of being both a letterpress printer and poet is self-publication! These days it’s pretty hard to get poetry published without paying a vanity press or buying an expensive anthology. But if you’re a letterpress printer, you have a huge ace in the hole. Print as many of your poems as you’d like whenever you want to, and distribute them as you wish. And design the printed piece or booklet exactly as you, the poet, want it to look. It’s wonderful!

As a printer and sometimes poet, I’ve had the chance to print some of the poetry I’ve written over the years. And I plan to print a lot more of my poems, once I get the myriad scraps of paper in my poetry file organized and edited. Sounds like a “someday” project, but I’m actively working on it.

I have enough haiku to do a miniature book, too. Haiku is a great poetic form for printers. First of all, it’s short. You can print seventeen syllables with even the smallest font of type. It means a lot less hand-setting, too. And haiku lends itself to all sorts of neat Oriental cuts, borders, and ornaments, as well as those illustrating the seasons.

Below are a few of my ventures in printing my own poetry in our letterpress shop. I hope to do considerably more of this in future. What a great opportunity to express yourself and get published at the same time!

An early poetry booklet of mine, named after The Xanadu Press.

RR Crossing, a poem from the Xanadu booklet.

A poem written during a bout of spring fever.

More haiku -- one of my favorite types of poetry to print.

A recent poem about my affinity to the 19th century -- part of the reason I love being a letterpress printer!


  1. I'm privileged to have two of your Haiku printed pieces and just love them. I also love the other poems you've displayed here. I can't wait to see your miniature book of Haiku! I'll be the first in line to purchase one.

  2. Thank you, Lynn! I'm anxious to print the haiku miniature myself -- it should be fun choosing the poems and designing it.