The two books That’s What You Write About – Give & Take And IN THE FACE OF IT from C&C Press live in custom boxes; boxes that are more enticing than most both because of their lively colors, and that their design and construction includes accent colors along the joint. I like things that are square so I’m first drawn to the blue and red box with Morton Marcus stamped on the spine.
I open the box to find not a square box, but one that is round. To meet the challenge of binding a shape that has no vertical fold the book is stab bound in a double x pattern that only goes front to back, not around the spine edge.
An inevitability with stab bindings is that they don’t open as well as I think books should. This one, however, has a nice deep spine piece that allows it to be gripped in one hand, while the other hand turns the pages, applying light pressure as needed to hold a page spread open. When I hold a book like this, I want to stand up; and when I stand up with a book of written words I feel like I should be reading aloud. Perfect – poems enjoy living in sound waves in addition to living on printed pages.
The book presents two pieces by poet Morton Marcus, presented one alongside the other rather than one following the other. That’s What Your Write About is printed on the left of each spread, on letterpress printed blue lined paper, in a rendition of the poet’s own hand. The hand that gets to turn the pages (in my case my right hand) is thrilled to feel the impressed blue lines, while my eyes appreciate the red vertical line that simulates that blue-lined paper that was endemic in my youth, the linespace decreasing as my handwriting grew more skillful and sophisticated.
Looking at this book my mind wanders, trying to remember the last time I felt the thrill of excitement that looking at a stack of blue-lined paper used to bring. That this paper is now something I feel nostalgic about isn’t something I’d have ever predicted.
Back to the book: the right page of each spread presents Give & Take in a large typeface that once again has me waxing nostalgic as it looks like (and lo and behold, on reading the colophon I learn that it is indeed) the type face used for ‘old timey’ playbills. From the colophon I learn that Give and Take was printed using Playbill wood type, found in the basement of a Seattle boxing ring.
Sher and Matt say:
“That’s What You Write About – Give & Take” features two poems by renowned poet and author, Morton Marcus. While preserving the integrity of the author’s original text, the decision to marry these two poems and their respective titles creates a third poem in which urban and rural themes interact. This third poem focuses on the environmental impact of urban life.
Although IN THE FACE OF IT from top view looks like a case bound book the spine is exposed, with the title printed vertically along the outer folds before the pages are folded and bound, making the title visible on the spreads between sections. Without a spine to interfere the book lies flat, inviting lengthy perusal of spreads that include multi-color printed woodblock images and text. Both the writings and original woodcuts are by poet and book artist Gary Young creating a serenity and flow throughout the book.
Sher and Matt say:
IN THE FACE OF IT contains original poems and woodcuts by poet and book artist Gary Young of Greenhouse Review Press. The book is dedicated to Elizabeth Sanchez, Young’s close friend and mentor. His series of poems are a response to her death. The exposed spine sewing was chosen to the reveal the printed title. The registration of the print on the folds of the pages gradually ascends. The effect is that the reading experience visually reflects the temporal nature of the poet’s grieving process.
Click here to see the online catalog page for these books.