Mission, Canada: Barbarian Press and Sperling Printshop, 2023. Softcover. One of 110 copies each accompanied by a handsome original woodcut of a raven, signed and numbered by Edith Krause. This delightful book is a flock of poems on birds by 15 Canadian poets. The book provides a diverting anthology of poems about birds by sixteen contemporary Canadian poets, some of them well established figures, such as Lorna Crozier, Susan McCaslin, Harold Rhenish, and Bill Richardson, and others younger emerging poets. The result is a rich cross-section ranging from the lyrical to the satirical, the humorous to the elegiac. Edith Krause provides an introduction to the project itself; ornithologist Rob Butler, a thoughtful ecological preface; and wildlife biologist Phil Henderson, a short reflection on the relationship between the poems and the birds in the book. Edith’s 26 woodcuts of birds, each representing a letter of the alphabet, provided the core of the project. In addition she created four further woodcuts to accompany the three prefatory essays and an extra poem, and provided a title page block, a selection of woodcut feathers for the endpapers, and a press device. Book artist and proprietor of the Barbarian Press, Crispin Elsted writes about the book: "Early in 2023 we were approached by woodcut artist Edith Krause and poet Susan McCaslin with a ready-made book project in hand for which they needed a printer. It had been many years since we had printed a book for another publisher, and it was a practice we had not planned to renew – especially since we had a considerable list of our own book projects in various stages of planning or production. However, we were struck at once by Edith’s delightful woodcuts of birds, and it seemed to us that the project deserved to be encouraged. Crispin consulted on the design of the book and Jan and Apollonia [Elsted] devised the imposition of the pages and subsequent details of placement and colour. Jan and Apollonia, Edith and Susan sorted out the logistics of acquiring materials and established the nature of the collaboration, and work began." The poems and other texts were handset by Apollonia in Joanna roman and italic type and printed on Hannemühle paper, with help from Kirsten Way and Lea Sanchez Milde, while the lion’s share of the presswork, comprising all the poems and the prose elements, was done by Apollonia, Jan printed the preliminary pages and the second colour title lines. We decided that we would make a departure with the blue paper binding of An Avian Alphabet, and imposed the texts and images so that the pages could be French-folded (i.e. with the fold at the foredge), then stabbed (that is, drilled) and laced into the covers with waxed coloured linen cord in an exposed sewing, and housed in a beige cloth covered slipcase with title label to spine. In fine condition. Measures 6 7/8 x 10 inches. Unpaginated [About 70 pages] PRI/112023. Fine.
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