Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Issue 29, May 2013)

Kyle Schlesinger
A Look At Some Contemporary Poetry Broadsides

Woodcut of a man selling broadsides

Notions about what constitutes a broadside are as discerning and various as people’s motives for producing them. The OED defines a broadside as, ‘A sheet of paper printed on one side only, forming one large page.’ That’s okay, but using the word ‘page’ is a bit confusing because a ‘page’ is defined as ‘either side of a leaf’ in Glaister’s An Encyclopedia of the Book. In ABC for Book Collectors, John Carter says that the term ‘broadside’ applies strictly to a whole, undivided sheet. And how ‘large’ is a ‘large’ sheet of paper? Is a small broadside a handbill? Is a larger than ‘large’ broadside a poster? To make matters murkier, about half the examples discussed here are printed on two sides, usually just a colophon, but technically, that’s enough to throw another serious wrench in the OED. Although a finite definition of the term may be difficult to surmise, people invested in this fugitive form of literature agree that these inky leaves should not be regarded as ephemeral detritus, nor should they be written off as mere sentimental keepsakes.

The broadside has played a fundamental role in educating and instigating revolutionary social, literary, and political movements. Like the leaflet, handbill, and pamphlet, the broadside is a form of street literature, a public work of art designed to be read outdoors, rather than in the library. Unlike the book, which can be perceived as a private, usually closed, one-on-one reading experience, the broadside is public, open (literally impossible to ‘close’), form of art that encourages a communal reading experience. Shortly after the invention of moveable type in the fifteenth century, royal proclamations and official notices were printed as broadsides. Broadsides later became a vehicle for political resistance and the expression of opposition to authoritarian rule. They were even used for the dissemination of scaffold speeches by condemned criminals in the moments preceding their execution. In the early sixteenth century, poems and ballads were printed in this form in England, where blackletter fonts continued to flourish long after the introduction of Roman type—hence, black-letter ballads. I consider broadsheets, stall or street ballads members of a family of printed forms known as the broadside.

In twentieth century America, the poetry broadside blossomed in the sixties and seventies. In the revolution of print culture spurred on by the New American Poetry’s intersection with the mimeo revolution and a new wave of innovative printers and book artists, the broadside became something of a radical courier for self-expression as well as a quick, DIY medium for social and political transformation. It served as an ideal way to promote and commemorate events such as Happenings, rock concerts, dance performances, and poetry readings. In turn, the construction and distribution of broadsides, magazines, and pamphlets became popular underground occasions for impromptu gatherings around second-hand Vandercooks, homespun silkscreen equipment, and saddle staplers. The establishment of various centers for the book, venues for poetry readings and publishing alike such as the St. Mark’s Poetry Project or Clifford Burke’s open studio at the Cranium Press in San Francisco contributed to the economic and technical viability of bringing the private voice into the public sphere with efficiency, flair and immediacy. James Sullivan poignantly stakes his claim in On the Walls and in the Streets:

This usefulness took poetry out from between closed covers resting on shelves, out of the armchair under the reading lamp, out from those quiet moments of private contemplation that have become the canonical setting for poetry, and into public places. Handed out at meetings, rallies, and street corners, posted on walls and bulletin boards, even framed to be hung in a living room or gallery or carried around all day folded in a wallet, a poem became a material sign to be touched and seen, engaging the senses rather than, as is conventional, passing transparently through them on the literary intellect.

Contempoary printers working out of the private press tradition distinguish their broadsides from the ephemeral, utilitarian function associated with posters and public notices that job printers produce. Non-commercial, independent publishers of poetry represent another tradition, while those working for or with activist groups and independent news agencies have a different approach, and of course, there are infinite connections and gaps between each of these tendencies. Charles Alexander,direc­ tor of Chax Press,writes "What a treat to make broadsides! Especially for folks like most fine press printers, who are stretching,and love to strive with limited resources of type to explore the possibili­ties of a single surface."


image of broadside: Wash-up sink

Just as poetry doesn’t have to be printed on a broadside, broadsides don’t have to display poetry to be what they are. You might call this an example of a broadside, or you might just call it a sign, and either would be fine. Wash-up Sink was produced at the Silver Buckle Press at the University of Wisconsin. Although there is no date, I acquired this copy around 2000 direct from the press. I like to think of the broadside as a public surface with a civic purpose, and this utilitarian example certainly is. Printed from attractive woodtype on Tyvek, this waterproof broadside is guaranteed to weather many an inky post-letterpress hand washing ceremony and inspires me to try printing a weather-resistant, yet ephemeral, broadside to display on telephone poles in the neighborhood.

image of broadside: Burn calories not fossil fuels. Ride your bike.

Burn Calories
18 × 13.5"

Broadsides have a long political history; this one promotes physical fitness and ecological consciousness. Printed from woodtype using a variation on the rainbow roll, the bright orange ‘BURN’ is sure to catch the attention of pedestrians and motorists alike at a busy intersection. The colors connote the sun’s increasing intensity due to global warming, but also serves as a metaphor for people’s potential to change their ways (‘tomorrow’s a new day,’ etc.). Karen Randall of Propolis Press in Western Massachusetts sent me some books in the mail wrapped in this sheet, hence the folds and scotch tape. I like it so much I kept it on the fridge for over a year, but I never learned who printed it or why. Sometimes the best works of art are anonymous.

image of broadside: German Picnic, Given by the Schubert Chorus of the German Dramatic Society. Providence, RI. Sheridan Farm (Formerly Toegemann's Farm) Cherry Hill Road, Johnston, RI. Sunday, July 28, 1974. German Band, Turner Gymnastics Performance. Come one! Entertainment For All. Come All! Kitchen Open 1 p.m.

German Picnic
14 × 10.75"

Come One! Come All! Here’s another anonymous broadside meant for display on the street. It’s a solid piece of job work that combines wood and metal type, mixing weights, serifs, and sans serifs. It’s centered on semi-gloss card stock. This is a fine example of utilitarian printing with an explicit message and clear, purposeful intention to quickly inform people of the German Picnic—but this isn’t my idea of a picnic! Where’s the sunshine? The cold hefeweizen and hot bratwurst? Sunshine and frolicking children? The heading ‘German Picnic’ is a bit authoritative, more reminiscent of a ‘no parking’ sign than a warm invitation. I bought this at a thrift store in Rhode Island about a decade ago. At that time, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the city still printed their parking tickets letterpress, although I wasn’t very pleased to received one on Benefit Street!

image of broadside: Vamp and Tramp, Booksellers presents: What Makes Bad Printing Good: a tirade by Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr., Printer. 11/20/2002 at 5:30 p.m.. 2805 Second Avenue South, Bermingham. York Show Print, P.O. Box 154 Tork, AL 36925.

What Makes Bad Printing Good
Amos Paul Kennedy, Jr.
19 × 14.25"

This broadside also promotes an event, this time at Vamp & Tramp books in Birmingham, but the message is a little more intriguing than the last example, especially for people interested in books and printing. Bill Stewart of Vamp & Tramp told me that this was Kennedy’s response to Paul Moxon’s earlier lecture at the bookstore titled ‘What Makes Good Printing Good.’ The chipboard stock, inky smears, and uneven inking make the medium and the message congruent. It’s also worth noting that the printer made this to promote his own lecture, so the theory and the practice, the event and the artifact, are all of a piece. It is printed on two sides, so if you’re an OED devotee, this doesn’t pass as a broadside, and I’d be okay with calling it a poster or a sign as well. I like this piece because it reminds me that when it comes to letterpress, there are as many rules as there are reasons to break them—even Bringhurst says something to that effect in the introduction to The Elements of Typographic Style.

image of broadside: Anything that is difficult enough to be worth doing (Powell's Law) is too difficult to be worth doing before it is done.

Powell’s Law
Anon. (but Peter Quartermain)
11.5 × 9"

Making our way to poetry, this syllogistic broadside contains a few words of wisdom. While I envision the three previous examples in public places, I imagine Powell’s Law in a semipublic space, such as the teacher’s lounge at school, bookstore, or mechanics’ shop. Perhaps because it is substantially smaller in size than the others, it seems better suited to an indoor than outdoor environment. Its message is not decidedly political, although it is persuasive, and where German Picnic and What Makes Bad Printing Good correspond to events, Powell’s Law is timeless (and ephemeral at the same time!) I particularly like the way the sentence is broken into two units.


image of broadside: In search of ingenuousness / opening a dictionary / between inflict / and inhuman // my eye falls / on a flower / placed there / and preserved / by you // seeing / in informs / my heart / infolds // between idolize / and I. L. O. / a violet / whose moth petals / hover on / ignotum per ignotius // explanation / obscures the object // Tom Pickard // Copy Number: 63 // Copyright 1981 Tom Picard. 150 copies, signed and numbered. Slug Press, Vancouver, Canada. March 1981.

With the possible exception of ‘sound poetry’ (‘does it still exists?’ — Clark Coolidge) and that of oral cultures, all poetry is visual, so the designation ‘visual poetry’ has never made much sense to me. Likewise, poetry doesn’t have to be ‘concrete’ to be typographic—in fact, there are plenty of concrete poems that aren’t typographic at all, while poems we ‘see’ subconsciously every day in conventional formats such as classroom anthologies and standard trade editions are ‘visual’ even if the poetic form isn’t illustrative or pictorial. Reading is a way of seeing. In surveying these broadsides, I’ve noticed that few have literal illustrations, pictures that show what the poem is about, as we see in most children’s books, advertisements, and newspapers. Printer’s ornaments and devices add visual elements to a poem, but as in the example above, British poet Tom Pickard’s ‘In Search of Ingenuousness’ published by Peter Quartermain’s Slug Press in 1981, don’t quite take the broadside out of the realm of typographic poetry. The selection of a particular paper or typeface can be illustrative, or at least suggestive, but in my opinion there are no strict guidelines for finding the best typeface for a particular poem. There are historical periods to consider, allusions and referents, as well as technical and material limitations, like having enough of a particular sort to set an entire poem, or a bed wide enough to accommodate exceeding long lines, like those of Walt Whitman or Allen Ginsberg.

image of broadside: Salute by Tasting, by Robert Bringhurst. 
White water on the mountain, / cwms and seracs of the sea, / and the voice moving out like a small boat or a solitary climber, / too far away to see if it resembles / someone else or itself or yourself or me. // Between the bone and the unleased blood: / the uncarved stone / and the landforms hammering gods / out of the godshapes of the air. / Between the hair that is the nail of the head / and the chin that is its heel: / brainleather, gunflint chert / and a broken ploughshare / heaped into a closed cup and triggered, / a cranium full of saltpeter and teeth, the mallet and anvil detonator interwired with the ocular fuse. // Flutes, flutes, / flutes charming the chain / to rise like a serpent under the ball, / or the serpent's teeth to rise / like a wavering pillar under us all. // Between lover and lover, brother and brother, / other and other of you: / ropehold in the ravelling fissure. / Women and the broken gods / jut through the jumbled weather, / snagging the fibres of the jewel. / In the loose light's / glycerine-flow, metamorphic, between them, the rule. / Between one and one, one and other, / one neither one and one one another, / the use of love: to make the hate run true. // end poem.
Copyright 1982 Robert Bringhurst. Contemporary Broadsides Number Seven. Printed on 12 × 8 Westman and Baker jubbing press at Slug Press, of 128 East Twenty-third Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, V5V 1x2 Published in an edition of 100 copies, numbered and signed, Spring, 1982. This is copy no. 20.

The Salute by Tasting
by Robert Bringhurst
Slug Press
9.25 × 17"

Since I mentioned Bringhurst’s ‘typographer’s bible’ and the two previous broadsides are from Slug Press in Vancouver, I thought I should also show an example of Bringhurst’s poetry printed by Quartermain. Here’s The Salute By Tasting, a handsome oblong broadside with the colophon (printed in red) dividing the display type on the left from the poem on the right. The title and poem are both set flush toward the center, a thoughtful re-organization of the more traditional format we’ll see in the next example, where the portrait (as opposed to ‘landscape’ format seen here) has the title at the top, colophon at the bottom, and poem sandwiched in between. We’re not going to get into the question of how a typographic authority such as Bringhurst gets printed, but I should mention that when someone with strong opinions about art and design has their work printed by someone else, interesting conversation can arise. We could also talk about the poets who know nothing about books or typography, but who have very particular ideas about how their books should look, but that’s also a subject for another time. Translating words into space, feelings into letterforms, is a significant part of book design.

image of broadside: Hymn to the Mimeograph Revolution // Hail to Thee, O Mimeograph Revolution / buzzing in the Mists of Time! Hail! // Hail to the hand-printed genius of d.a. levy in Cleveland / Hail to Diane di Prima and the great Floating Bear on Cooper Square / Hail as well to glorious issues of Beatitude in San Francisco // Beginning in 1962, I joined in, purchasing a $35 mimeo on 2nd Ave / borrowing some colored paper from the Catholic Worker, / where I and my friends used to hang out, set the mimeo on / top of the metal covering to my bathtub in the kitchen of my pad, / then started cutting stencils on borrowed typewriters / poured ink into the drum to publish / first a Magazine of the Arts, which I handed out free / at bars and at poetry readings in coffee houses, and next / I hand-published a plethora / of anthologies, tractata, manifestoes and street leaflets / all the way through the 1960s / I had various mimeograph machines - a Speed-o-Print at first, / then an electric A.B. Dick, then a Gestetner, which I bought in '67. / For most of my publications I drew numerous glyphs and visual images / on filmy mimeograph stencils with sharp-pointed styli / and typed the poems on the same kind of stencils, correcting a typo by slighly abrading / the mistake with, say, the end of a paperclip, then brushing on mimeograph / correction fluid, then retyping over the mistake. / It was both a thrilling and tedious procedure // They called it the Mimeograph Revolution / and it was! An expansion of Rent Control, the Free Store on / East 10th, Free Soup at the Catholic Worker, / and the blaze of light in the front room of / the Peace Eye Bookstore, the chants of the Fugs - all gathered / on the shores of the Century / to urge a Revolution - a Forging / of beauty and sharing / to genuinize the Dream // - Ed Sanders.  Printed by The Brother in Elysium on the occasion of the opening of the exhibit Ed Sanders - Fuck You / A Magazine of the Arts 1962 - 1965 at Boo-Hooray 265 Canal Street 6th floor, Chinatown NYC 2/16/2012. Edition of 50 copies. Signed: Ed Sanders.

Hymn of the Mimeograph Revolution
by Ed Sanders
Brother in Elysium
14 × 9"

Poet and human rights activist Ed Sanders knew what Amos Kennedy meant by ‘What Makes Bad Printing Good’ as did the other writers and publishers he salutes in this poem, ‘Hymn of the Mimeograph Revolution,’ including the Cleveland-based mimeo maverick d.a. levy, as well as and Diane di Prima, who co-edited the great mimeo magazine Floating Bear (1961-71) with LeRoi Jones. These were pioneers of the ‘dirty mimeo’ movement, one that included letterpress and mimeographs, and later the zine photocopy culture. In other words, the mimeo movement was not united by a particular tool for textual reproduction so much as a shared involvement in poetics. It could argued that the mimeo medium itself didn’t mean as much at the time as it does in hindsight—it was just a simple, affordable machine that helped get the word out quickly; from poetry magazines to leaflets for demonstrations to civil rights pamphlets, the mimeograph was there. Like democratic multiples, these documents have become fetishized collector’s items, and as this colophon states, exhibited in reputable New York art galleries.


image of broadside by Philip Gallo: I never saw a tree lovely as an ampersand / I think that I shall never see / equal to the ampersand any tree; / without compare the lovely ampersand prest / upon the pages dampened breast; / an ampersand looks at god all day / and lifts her seriffed arms to pray; / an ampersand in summer wears / the sweet idyll of commas in her hair; / upon whose seasoned crossbar ink has lain / and transfers clean the writer's pain; / you've heard of printers like me / but only ampersands can make a tree. Philip Gallo, The Ampersand Club, 6 April 2006

Display type is one of the primary ingredients in the printed poem, and broadsides allow the printer to experiment with these large letters in a way that is less restrictive than the book form. Display type is generally considered 36 points or larger, and woodtype looks ravishing on broadsides, the bigger the better. Some fonts work better for continuous reading than others, so the poetry broadside is generally less restrictive than a long work of prose. In turn, some fonts are designed for display only, but can work well for setting short poems on a single sheet. Medium, scale, audience, legibility, and the relationship between the display font and the rest of the broadside are important factors to consider during composition. Display fonts can look great with or without images, and in some cases, display type can be so prominent and striking that there is no need for any additional imagery.

image of broadside by Ted Berrigan: Here I am at 8:08 p.m. indefinable ample rhythmic frame / The air is biting, February, fierce arabesques / on the way to tree in winter streetscape / I drink some American poison liquid air which bubbles / and smoke to have character and to lean / In. The streets look for Allen, Frank, or me, Allen / is a movie, Frank disappearing in the air, it's / Heavy with that lightness, heavy on me, I heave / through it, them, as / The calvados is being sipped on Long island now / twenty years ago, an dthe man smoking / Is looking at the smilingly attentive woman, and telling. / Who would have thought that I'd be here, nothing / wrapped up, nothing buried, everything / Love, children, hundreds of them, money, marriage- / ethics, a politics of grace, / Up in the air, swirling, burning even or still, now / more than ever before? / Not that practically a boy, serious in corduroy car coat / eyes penetrating the winter twilight at 6th / and Bowery in 1961. Not that pretty girl, nineteen, who was / going to have to go, careening into middle-age so, / To burn, and to burn more fiercely than even she could imagine / so to go. Not that painter who from very first meeting / I would never and never will leave alone until we both vanish / into the thin air we signed up for and so demanded / To breathe and who will never leave me, not for sex, nor politics / nor even for stupid permanent estrangement which is / Only our human lot and means nothing. No not him. / There's a song, California Dreaming, but no, I won't do that. / I am 43. When will die? I will never die, I will live / To be 110, and I will never go away, and you will never escape from me / who am always and only a ghost, despite this frame, Spirit / Who lives only to nag. / I'm only pronouns, and I am all of them, and I didn't ask for this / You did / I came into your live to change it and it did so and now nothing / will ever change / That, and that's that. / Alone and crowded, unhappy fate, nevertheless / I slip softly into the air / The world's furious song flows through my costume.

Red Shift
by Ted Berrigan
Anon. (but Daniel Mellis)
14 × 11"

This is an excellent illustration of why letterpress doesn’t always reproduce well digitally—it also shows what letterpress can do that an inkjet printer can’t. This poem was printed on translucent vellum with the primary text in black and the title and author’s name in silver. They are subtle, but the shimmer under the right light and the chameleon-like background makes this a dynamic work of art, one that I would actually resist framing. The poem is true to the original in its setting, clear and legible, which strikes me as a responsible decision given that the author is deceased and proper permissions were not sought prior to printing. It was printed in a small edition, at Oregon College of Arts and Crafts as I recall, as a gift for the printer’s girlfriend. The penultimate line reads: “I’m only pronouns, & I am all of them, & I didn’t ask for this / You did / I came into your life to change it & it did so & now nothing / will ever change / That, and that’s that.” According to some of Berrigan’s former students, copying poems was one of his favorite assignments: go home and type up this poem and see if you can get into the author’s head. Copying, typing, and typesetting are all ways of embodying the poem, of understanding writing differently.

image of broadside by Samuel Beckett: Roundelay // on all that strand / at end of day / steps sole sound / until unbidden slay / then no sound / on all that strand / long no sound / until unbidden go / steps sole sound / long sole sound / on all that strand / at end of day ... Handset in Cheeltenham and composed on a Ludlow in Tempo Light by M. Slawinski at the Woodside press 2007. 7 of 20

by Samuel Beckett
Micah Slawinski
13.5 × 9"

Sorry that the Y was clipped from this broadside, but the kerning between it and the A is terrible anyway! Adjusting the distance been the Y and the A would have involved physically, and irrevocably, cutting down the type, and since the printer, in this case, did not own the type, his options were limited. Working with large display type, there’s no way for poorly kerned letters to go unnoticed. A former co-worker of mine printed this on a slow afternoon during my short stint at Woodside Press in the Navy Yard. I love the rhythm and repetition in this poem, the play of letters and sound, ‘long no sound / until unbidden go / steps sole sound / long sole sound / on all that stand / at end of day.’ This is one of twenty copies printed in three colors on scrap paper from the shop, true ephemera. I’ve included it in this presentation as a transition from purely typographic poetry broadsides to poems and pictures. Here, the display type and the poem overlap, one vertical, the other horizontal, creating a nice overlapping texture that has a visual complexity greater than the Bringhurst & Sanders poems we looked at previously. Overlaps and intersections can yield pleasing and often unexpected results on a letterpress.

image of broadside by Lewis Warsh // Cold silent wind on a quiet / evening. Soda crystals, / boiling water. Let's make a fresh / start. // All the dead weight, all the / riffraff, the night / Pecos Pete came to town // In a rickshaw and a volley / of hail the size of tennis balls / fell from the sky. You could // buy some pills from the guy / on the bench in the park. // A nose on his face, unlike mine. Gin and fizz. // It seems like you can be two people / at the same time, or more. The bowels / of the earth are empty and the / movie theater is closed. What have // we here? A story by Poe. / A shark out of water. The first / microwave. Perpetual dawn. // Printed in an edition of 100 by Sarah Mottaghinejad in honor of the poet's reading at the Center for Book Arts December 5th, 2012. // 49/100

by Lewis Warsh
Sarah Mottaghinejad
14 × 11"

Last year Jed Birmingham and I wrote a complete anecdotal bibliography of Lewis Warsh’s poems, fiction, and autobiographical writings as part of the Mimeo Mimeo feature on his work. ‘Durango,’ published late in 2012, is the first piece that was not included. It was printed by Sarah Mottaghinejad at the Center for Book Arts in New York City on the occasion of the author’s reading in early December. The text and the image do not cross paths as they do in the Beckett piece we just observed, but they are bound by what I presume to be a form of pressure printing that links the embossed display type and the gently inked gray background with the poem in a field of color. While the poem is brilliant, the broadside doesn’t hold my attention because from a distance, the gray background looks rather muddy and muted, so it’s not easy to make out the title because of the faint contrast, and it’s difficult to read the poem on the wall because of the faint contrast and small sans serif type. Still, the display type attempts to balance the poem visually, running in a parallel column on the left, exerting its rather discrete presence as something more than a title. There are just 100 numbered copies signed by both the printer and poet.


image of broadside by Brenda Iijima: Skylands // Water spurts incredibly / Clear up under simple feel / And that is how / We drank water // A loon fled / Into water / Because a raven / Could not dive / Or swim. Only spinning is a star / Dizziness simple / Ceremony appeasing weather / With you sky, with for you sky / Between / A feeling a sky / Heartfelt redolent in June / Roses fume. May day / Perpetual field of velvet horizon / At a slant is the unicorn's mane / Realization from seed to flower / We made contact chalices / Filled, a sticky sweet / Rim

It’s counter-intuitive to create categories, to see things discreetly and present them in a linear order when there is none. This exercise is just a way of gathering examples of some contemporary broadsides in my personal collection and putting them in dialogue with one another. It’s a good way to get away from traditional designations, such as author, illustrator, region, or publisher. It’s random and personal at the same time—were I to present examples from another collection or library, I’m sure everything would be different. The most common ingredients for the contemporary poetry broadside are text and image, which can be arranged any number of ways. Here are a few examples where the image and text balance and engage with one another, but do not integrate or overlap, creating that ‘other element’ that we will see in later examples. It’s worth noting that there are many instances of text and image that contradict, cancel, upset, and interrogate one another that are just as interesting, but unfortunately, not within immediate reach. Some of the broadsides that follow are landscape format with text on one side and image on the other, while others are in portrait format, with the poem above the picture or vice versa. I’ll show three of each, beginning with some examples of the latter. Pictured above, Brenda Iijima’s Skyland with an illustration by the author. Brenda and I printed it at The Arm in Brooklyn in 2008 for Litmus Press.

image of broadside by Mark Nowak: Coal Elementary // Owners of a coal mine in Shanxi played down the death toll from an explosion two weeks ago by hiding or sending to neighbouring Inner Mongolia at least 17 bodies. The cover-up was revealed yesterday by the State Administration for Work Safety on its website. Rescuers found 19 bodies in the Jiajiapu mine in Ningwu county following a blast on July 2. But they could not determine exactly how many died. // Procedure (cont.) 2. Explain that the mining industry, like any other business, faces challenges to make itself profitable. To understand some of these challenges, students will attempt to conduct a profitable minig business in an experiment that requires tem to mine the coal chips from chocolate chip cookies.

Coal Mountain Elementary
by Mark Nowak
Eucalyptus Press (printed by Lara Durback)
14 × 8.5"

Mining disasters have been making headlines for quite some time, and Mark Nowak’s charged political poem has been printed and persuasively designed by Lara Durback at Mills College in Oakland. The black paper connotes black lung disease, mines, and the coal dust that settles on schoolyards in mining communities. The title and body of the poem are decidedly visual, mixing typefaces and incongruous placement on the page. The image, however, is fairly difficult to decipher—perhaps intentionally so. The text printed in white ink would have popped more with silver on the black paper, while the word ‘Mountain’ in the title is so muted it looks like the poem is called ‘Coal Elementary’ if you’re standing more than an arm’s length from the broadside. Again, perhaps that is part of the printer’s intention—after all, should a poem called Coal Mountain Elementary be conventionally beautiful? It’s a question.

image of broadside by Clark Coolidge: Fun with a finger // Connery is Gone Kelly in this dance about / heroin-flavored bananas let's step outside / brainstems for the picking the news in a mirror / for a change the crimes of a bronze harp / lamp lighter on holiday Bond disses the Beatles / so gets conked by a smiling son of the East / the mysteries of clowns now about that paint job / dining sounds the length of an oil course / hey nonny nonny a whole new cast if a bit metallic / blast of hydraulic drag broom across a sea of cots / down the Bladderlost Coast in full pluck / boils down heel of shoe to a not indifferent tea / what's your pupose James? for once it sticks / Bond depresses a stud and all the jigs are up // a selection from THE HUMAN BOND by Clark Coolidge, Fell Swoop 2012

Fun with a Finger
by Clark Coolidge
Fell Swoop Press
14 × 11"

Clark Coolidge has written a lot of long poems, and excerpts from longer works presented in the form of a broadside have a way of channeling the reader’s attention, bringing out the details and nuances. Excerpts presented in periodicals can do something similar, but they serve more as sample than a complete work. In a broadside, an except can be displaced from the whole work and become its own whole, working on terms other than, but related to the larger body. In this case, the poem has been excerpted from a longer poem or manuscript titled ‘The Human Bond’ which takes 007 as its subject: ‘Connery is Gene Kelly in this dance about / heroin-flavored bananas.’ The double-space after ‘bananas’ could stand for a period to complete the sentence plus a space, to begin the next, although only proper names get capitalized and the only closing punctuation mark comes at the end of a question: ‘what’s your purpose James?’ The title, image, and colophon are all centered. The text is a little on the small side, or the sheet a little too large; either way, an excess of white space in my opinion. I like the way the shape of the ragged right lines mimic the shape of the pistol. Although not called for, this copy was signed by the author.

image of broadside by C.G. Waldrep: Deliverance // Then I realized I had read too many poems / about pulling the dead from the living // ragged cry of cow or horse or pig graining / against the inanimate flesh in its gut, // the human urgency, greasy hands / reaching deep into unimaginable places, // groping around, arms stiff against the creature's / useless labor, trying to hold on, trying // to bring out the fetal pieces already half-rotten / in the placenta's wash. Sometimes the animal dies, // sometimes not, and everyone human / goes home thinking about the change in life, // what great mystery approched / in the palm's proximity to alien heartbeat, // what small nation, vigorously defended. / But it's only the dumb rhythm of begetting / with or without us that poor carcass / would have found the air. The same tall grasses / would grow in the rainy season. Late at night / we would still wake to find ourselves // shivering for no reason, no reason at all, / fresh from that hard dream of safty.

n.d. (but 2009)
by G.C. Waldrep
Anon. (but printed by Crane Giampo for Bonfire Press)
14 × 8.5"

The vivid colors in this illustration are alluring, as is the way the poem rests in the image below. The poem was set by hand in metal type and the images were made with Print Gocco, a simple screen print kit for children and crafts people. Published by Colorado State University’s Bonfire Press at the Center for Literary Publishing, home of the Colorado Review and a fire engine-red Vandercook SP-15.

image of broadside by Bill Tremblay: The Lost Boy // Across the Poudre river bridge / stands a stone monument to a lost boy. / Carved words fix the mystery. Did / he wander off, or was he carried off / by tooth or talon? Family, friends, / searched the mountainside calling his / name. The weather turned. Sleet, wind, / snow in the slants across the ponderosas. / He blacked out under the canyon's / Milky Way. I hear his cries in / echoing arroyos. Though his bones / mouldered in cold drizzle he comes / crashing through wild plum thickets / clutching at my shirt, asking where I was / in his sagebrush hours. Through his / ripped jacket a flash of bone. I dare not / touch his skeletal shoulder. He's forgotten / how to be alive. The climb is no relief, / his weight dogs my knees. Breezes / sough through purple yarrow aspen groves, / dry waterfalls. I reach the cloud meadows, / hairpin switchbacks until Mount / Greyrock juts its granite forehead into / one hard thought: what remains unfinished / in the sould keeps doubling back / until earth and sky are balanced aches / like the cliff swallow's swift flight.

n.d. (but 2006)
The Lost Boy
by Bill Tremblay
Anon. (but Gordon Hadfield & Sasha Steensen for Bonfire Press)
16 × 8"

Most of the examples I've shown so far use fairly conventional paper, but here's one printed on banana leaf with attractive deckles on four sides (sorry the one on the bottom got cropped off in the scanner). The paper is warm, and the texture and threads create an intriguing interaction with the picture's pattern.

image of broadside by Craig Dworkin (Annon): --sh. 1. A Crag, now obs. A fragment (of coarse); a cinder (of slag). Or shy, afraid. This ender day. Rendered as do to, admit them, to dare. Curative, tackled, tined. The remains, and bears, in India ink, under watercolor wash, over stains on unlaid paper: Do des ...Why write this? Where the yellow spot is and where I am pointing with my finger, that is where it hurts. Dead letter, pour, a dearth. Unsigned, accessioned with a circle stamped shield and key to the Bremen Kunsteverein, the drawing has not been seen since the end of the second world war. As if it were the emblem of another legend: ....

Anon. (but an excerpt from Dure by Craig Dworkin)
image by Albrecht Dürer
Anon. (but printed by Craig Dworkin)
11 × 15"

This is also an excerpt from a longer poem, book-length actually, by Craig Dworkin that I published in 2004 titled Dure. The illustration on the right is a self-portrait that the sixteenth century German printmaker Albrecht Dürer sent to his doctor shortly before his death, apparently in search of a diagnosis. The drawing is accompanied by a note that translates: ‘Where the yellow spot is, and where I am pointing, that is where it hurts.’ This letter became a point of departure for Dworkin’s poem, and here we have the text from the first page of the book opposite with the drawing. I like the illustration in copper ink, but think that it could be at least twice as large as it looks a bit understated next to the rather large text. The printing is quite good, but a darker ink or darker paper would have made it easier to read at a distance.

image of broadside by Gary Parrish: Sonnet / for George and Katie / Drive in picture show: the name of the movie is not known / alone in a motorcar shirt loosens pants unbuckle a lunar moth / crosses a mid-section pale shifting spectrum of color / proceeds from the dim outpour of the projector rifling into the automobile / swirls around the neck exits through the unrolled window crickets / varying speed of breath determines position of arms elbows contortion / there is a notion that the movie is now moving through me it tickles / me to think of the wheels in the mud and the sound of the company show. / When the movie has started when the scenario is set and the actresses / begin to move closer to the screen bright white letters reflect in the toneless skin / that drapes along black sand towards the retina through the cortext / standing reflection of two mirrors placed in front of each other / a memory that comes between the frames is pinned in its borders / bangs from the inside out is nailed to the bottom of the clicking reels light.

by Gary Parrish
image by George Schneeman
Farfalla, McMillan & Parrish
17 × 11"

This series of twenty-four broadsides was produced in conjunction with the Bowery Poetry Club. Each features a work of art by George Schneeman, a Lower East Side artist who has collaborated on hundreds of projects with poets, ranging from unique one-of-a-kind books to large-format portraits of poets, to collaborative paintings, collages, drawings, and more. The author of this poem is also the publisher, and the poem is dedicated to Schneeman and his wife Katie. The broadsides in this series are all similar in their format and dimensions, and for some reason, all of the images appear a bit muddy, oversaturated, or just a little out of focus, which is a shame as it’s a lovely collection of poets and another great example of Schneemen’s inimitable greatness and generosity. This is the first broadside I’ve shown that was printed digitally—everything else is letterpress. The works of Schneeman’s I’ve seen in this series are full color collages, so letterpress would not have been an ideal form of reproduction.

image of broadside by Robert Creeley: Place To Be // Days the weather sits / in the endless sky, / the clouds drifting by. // The winter's snow, / summer's heat, / same street. // Nothing changes / but the faces, the people, / all the things they do // 'spite of heaven and hell / or city hall-- / Nothing's wiser than a moment. // No one's chance / is simply changed by wishing, right or wrong. // What you do is how you get along. / What you did is all it ever means. Robert Creeley. Produced in an edition of 300 for A Picture's Worth A Thousand Words in honor of Robert Creeley and Debora Ott. Photograph by Greg Halpern. Letterpress printing by Kyle Schlesinger at Paradise Press. Digital reproduction by Martyn Printing and Graphics Inc.

n.d. (but 2004)
Place to Be
by Robert Creeley
image by Greg Halpern
Just Buffalo Literary Center
11 × 17"

Like the last example, this broadside is also printed on commercial tabloid size paper, and it’s the first example of a broadside in this presentation that uses photography. The building behind the fog is an abandoned train station in Buffalo, a city which was home to the poet Robert Creeley and the photographer Greg Halpern. In terms of its size and architectural integrity, the station is often compared to Grand Central in New York, and Creeley used to enjoy taking guest from out of town there for a glimpse of all its faded glory. Just Buffalo Literary Center commissioned me to print and design the broadside for them, and for some reason I ran the poem through the letterpress and had the image printed offset, so it would have been much easier to simply proof the poem or set it digitally than to have printed the entire edition of 300 by hand, but like the signature of the poet, the handprinted poem can sometimes lend a certain authenticity to a broadside. And the experience of printing it at Paradise Press with some crisp Cochin was memorable.


image of broadside by Asa Benveniste and Marc Vaux

Good question, but there's no good answer. It's an elusive term, but broadsides are usually bigger than handbills and smaller than posters. They are often printed letterpress, but not necessarily. They often contain verse, but that's not a requirement either. Like pamphlets, some broadsides fold, but that's just my opinion, others would say that broadsides are a single, unfolded sheet printed on one side only. Here are a few alternative formats. This picture of Asa Benveniste and Marc Vaux's collaboration 'Color Theory' (1977) does not do the work justice.

image of broadside by Gary Snyder, David Meltzer, and Jack Shoemaker:  Maya // Everybody Lying on their Stomachs Head toward the Candle, Reading, Sleeping, Drawing // The corrugated roof / Boom and fades night-long to // million-darted rain / squalls and // outside // lightning // Photographs in the brain / Wind-bent bamboo. / through // the plank shutter / set // Half-open on eternity // Gary Snyder / Suwa-no-se Island // A POEM FOR MY WIFE // I'm in my room writing / speaking to myself / and I hear you / move down the hallway / to water your plants // I write truth on the page / I strike the word over and over / yet I worry you'll pour too much water on the plants / and the water will overflow onto the books / ruining them // If I cant speak out of myself / how can I tell you I dont care about the plants? / how can I tell you I dont care if the books get wet? // We've been together seven years / and only now do I begin / clearing my throat to speak to you. // David Meltzer // † // I might have been a monk, gazing through a stained glass, / or walking behind a horse and plow / in the soft dirt, thinking of God. // The Silent Life, with one eye / always toward heaven, one eye / weeping, toward earth. // But today I'm just a poet, / with both eyes in heaven / and my feet on the earth like weights. // Jack Shoemaker

by Gary Snyder, David Meltzer, and Jack Shoemaker
drawings by Meltzer
Maya (printed by Clifford Burke)
8 × 15" (8 × 5" closed)

These nifty ‘pamphlets’ were printed in an edition of 1,000 for the Santa Barbara Poetry Festival in April 1969 by Clifford Burke at Cranium Press in San Francisco and distributed for free. For those of you who are new to letterpress, Burke’s Printing Poetry is one book that I recommend highly, as well as Printing It, which was an influential guide to DIY publishing in the 1960s. Maya contains two drawings by David Meltzer and on the back, an advertisement for Maya Broadsides, Quartos, and Books. So is it advertising? Yes. Is it a pamphlet? Yes. Is it a broadside? That’s up to you, but I had this copy framed and displayed open in my office for years.

image of broadside by Robert Kelly: As he would contribute / dignity and repose to a man's face / superfixing that found place / on a buddha, / so to my own smooth / babyfatted sleek he finds / a ruinous treebark's grooves and runnels / to arroyo me? / This is what comes of having my picture / taken by a  / Stone / who found a tree in my face / and cracked it / tree, I accept the sight / but do I see it at once that way / (our eyes, our easy ones) / or does tree come later, / after the craggy flesh / I thought was mine? / Violence here to be sure / and cruelty, / Light's revenge / upon my caveman eyes. (from a notebook August 74) // The Belt // And I had been caught too long / away from the good places. / There was such need / to speak out all of it, / even Hapgood's dusty maps / of Amundsenland before the ice / or the strings of Chomsky / bracketing / an up and coming sutra / of great subtlety and little sense. / So we have to go there / beyond sense. / It breaks a door / or breaks a bar on a door. / It is full / and fast down the hall / like a moon / it runs / and by its muscularity / encourages pursuit. / I pursue. / But less than should, I who once / did follow, and vanily, to exhaustion / and now perhaps drive / no further than Woodstock or Pine Plains, / my zone / diminishing, / the woman said. Forcing me up. / The squeeze. Of place. The actual. / This / is what I need: / an again / with wings / to carry. / I have been so slow. // VII 74 // Robert Kelly

Untitled and The Belt
by Robert Kelly
photo by Charles Stein
University of Connecticut
13 × 8.5" (7.25 × 8.5" dosed)

Who could resist Robert Kelly in Kelly Green? Some might suggest that this looks more like a greeting card than a broadside. The sheets folds up, so the portion of the broadside with the image disappears, leaving only the author's name and the two poems. I like the photograph, and always wanted there to be a way to display the poem and the picture simultaneously, but in this instance, it's an either/or.

image of broadside by Gregg Biglieri: Los Books // Constantly. You could have remembered constantly. That crosshair between harness and stun. // At one time untimtly, but not now. One hour of our memory is ultimatum. Thought presses and represses. Beyond the process there is no limit to knowing now. // Eyes are telegrams sent to the sun. // The prologue to an actual confession executes a diminishing sense of self. Autobiography is shooting time. Point-blank and patiently. This completes the retraction by making concessions unnecessary. // Make it come to think of it. The virtual parts of the body control the particular horizon. One moment spackles absence. The chalk is real enough to outline a dead body. The printing presses on dough delicious earth. // And crept to the top of the wave, scrolled up the page, to the top of the white wave, paving the way for waves over the permanent. Crawled into what it meant and scrawled smoke there. Itself adn cloudy. Under the moon on any one night it gives what it takes away. Wave upon wave ploughed under and down to the bottom of what it means to see it - This way. // A taste for being toothpicked by sensations, fine-tuning and fingering smaller and smaller letters. The stencils of the sensible dent the bulletproof paper. Teh page is already indented in the brain. Something like too much light invents the sun. The moon is a convex, ribless, hollow-shouldered mountain. A mind or a mountain. The mind is a case worker for the invisible. // An old, black-and-white photograph from 1932 of a women's lacrosse team found in a used, leather-bound volume of the Complete Keats published in 1925. Film is a memory that twists. A convex lense through which objects appear closer than they are lifed from the mind. Time riddles the crib. // The basolute is chronic. Whithin memory's diving bell an aquanaut from a childhood adventure story sinks of oxygen. Language is amphibious. Yoou can come into the crawl space between the sign until it becomes almost comfortable. The ghosts are getting out of jams on their own. Pressure absence and it blindsides you. The sublime is your blind side. // And we went to the place where the dog park met the arboretum. Time was wedged between little quotation marks. When I bent down to look, I turned into you. This is Lethe leafing. The all is lethal eliding. Happiness bequeaths - not here, not now. Somewhere the shadows lift the light the light had lifted from the shadows.

Los Books
by Gregg Biglieri
Cuneiform Press
14 × 11" (8.25 × 6" closed)

I got the idea for this quarto glued into a simple folder from Charles Olson’s ‘Letter for Melville 1951’ printed at Black Mountain College, although I suspect the format must pre-date the twentieth century. David Abel in Portland recently gave me a poem called Printingway by Alan Brilliant that has a more refined design with the quarto affixed to the recto of the open folio only. The well-printed verso is numbered and signed by the author. It also opens bottom to top, right to left, unlike ‘Los Books’ and ‘Letter for Melville 1951.’


image of broadside by Walter Hamady and John Wilde: 127 / 2001 (number of title / year of production) / Walter Hamady and John Wilde (authors) / A Hamady Wilde Sampler (title) / Salutations 1995 / Illustrated by John Wilde, mostly (self-explanatory) / 28 × 19 × 1.5 cm; (11 × 7 and 7/16ths × 5/8ths in) 124 page surfaces, 103 printed (size) // Here is the long awaited ninth (9th) co-laboration intermediated via a Neo-Dadaist and a Magic REalist. It appears to be a desultory chronicle with marginalia and excerpts lifed from a correspondence begun back in 1971. As a bibliographic document, it itemizes 1,159 letters to bring the reader through A.D. 2000, with heavier focus on the year 1995 for the amorphous reason of sequelization. (section break) see: AIGA 50 Books of 1992, 1985, The Twelve Months. Gill Sans is the typeface, hand-set and reset, in a varia of compositional concepts with self-conscious annotations, feints and asides by the typologist, designer and archivist. Quite a few colors were hand-mixed, ad hoc, for letter-pressing on the single-owner, manual SP-15 Vandercook. Several hand-mades and mould-mades were juxtaposed to give strong page character. Also, there are tip-ins, affixations, scribings, embossments and rubber stampings. // For obvious reasons the edition is limited to 95 signed and numbered copies. The hand-sewing was done on the big W.O. Hickok ledger frame by the resident semi-Hittite bibliopegist in an almost-not binding fitted with a heavy wrapper printed with a much-enlarged wiggly postal cancellation mark. $950 delivery pre-paid // Usual terms apply: ten percent discount if remittance accompanies order; twenty percent to bona fide dealers; thirty percent to standing order subscriptions. // The Perishable Press Limited (so-named to reflect the human condition) / (the private press of Wsh Hamady) (establised at Detroit  1964) / 201 North Hay Hollow (in the parlor and barn) / Mount Horeb, Wisconsin 53572-3200 (a beadroom community of Madison) // Note: there is a complete set of all nine of the collaborations including a Hamady assemblage/box with a unique silverpoint drawing of same by Wilde. Certainly an unrepeatable opportunity to acquire a definitive collection. Details upon request.

The term ‘prospectus’ dates back to the early 1700s, and its etymology is related to ‘prospect,’ the act or fact of looking forward or out. I’d be curious if there are any earlier examples of prospectus known by another, or no name. The prospectus is a statement of aims or objectives, and in the private press tradition, publishers will often use the prospectus to advertise and describe a forthcoming publication, solicit subscriptions, gauge interest, and offer a prepublication discount. The prospectus can be artfully produced, often printed in a manner similar to the book it promotes; for instance it is common to use the same paper, type, illustrations, and an excerpt from the book. There is a lot to be learned from the prospectus (especially when all doesn’t go according to plan in the pressroom!) and they make nice keepsakes unto themselves, much better than email, which some publishers find more cost-effective and convenient these days. Here’s a playful, single sheet from Walter Hamady’s Perishable Press from 2001 announcing the publication of his collaboration with John Wilde entitled Salutations 1995.

image of broadside by Guy Davenport

The Bowmen of Shu
by Guy Davenport
Grenfell Press
12.5 × 19" (12.5 × 9.5" closed)

The Grenfell Press was established in 1979 by Leslie Miller, and it is one of the private presses I like most because the writing tends towards substantive, innovative, contemporary poets, including Robert Duncan, William Gass, John Hawkes, Susan Howe, Ann Lauterbach, Harry Mathews and others. The roster of artists is also quite impressive, including R.B. Kitaj, Robert Mangold, Brice Marden, Kiki Smith, Richard Tuttle, and Trevor Winkfield. These are artists who read and understand poetry. Many private presses are far less adventurous in commissioning art and writing.

image of broadside by James Joyce with images by Robert Motherwell

by James Joyce
images by Robert Motherwell
Arion Press
12.75 × 20.5" (12.75 × 9.75" closed)

After apprenticing with Dave Haselwood and the Grabhorn Brothers, Andrew Hoyem started Arion Press in San Francisco in 1974. Here’s a prospectus for a $7,500 edition of Ulysses with etchings by Robert Motherwell (prints available for an extra $20,000). These extravagant editions are hatched from an ideology similar to what William Morris expressed in his writings on the Ideal Book and through his Kelmscott Press. Although innovative unto themselves, Motherwell and Joyce are canonical in the art and literary worlds. Ulysses was a safe investment for Hoyem. Arion Press books are for rich people and well-endowed institutions. Unlike the broadside, they do little to nourish or stimulate the public mind, and like Kelmscott books, few are actually designed with readers in mind.

image of broadside by Anon. (Alastair Johnston) // THE ARYAN PRESS / annnounces the publication of the / Prospectus / for / KEIN KAMPf // ALTHOUGH it will take years to handset the many pages of this overlooked dusk of modem philosophy, the ARYAN Press [formerly Longhorn Alumni] feels confident in announcing the impending publication of the de-luxe offset illustrated prospectus for the edition which will describe : / THE TEXT: a definitive new scholarly edition of the neglected 'Bad Ems' manuscript. / THE FORMAT ; carefully preserving the layout of every preceding fine press edition, guaranteed to fulfill the expectations of even the most antiquated bibliopile. / THE PAPER: an over-run of Federal Reserve stock, gilt-edged to satisfy the most discerning investors without attracting undue attention. Slightly watermarked. / THE FORMAT: hyperbolized quarto, pr hemi-folio, approximately 4 x 5 ins., or 2.3 x 3.9 meters [foreign]. / THE ILLUSTRATIONS: charming School of Baskin and Kent engravings blend in unobstrusively while recaptunng the spirit of the halcyon days before 1939. / THE TYPE: pliable monotype, with a non-aligning 'g' for added sparkle, topped with a serving of special Gouty Swish Terminals, removed during a confusing fire drill at Deepdene, and the keystone of the historic collection of Victorian novelty types which, have been acquited from the incompatible J.H.Gnash and General Business Forms Inc. [the Aldis of San Francisco] / THE BINDING: full quarter Longhorn overboards. Rigorous individual tests show the cords to be suited to the most exacting binding. Not cased-in, bound!! / THE ODOR: a custom blend of 'Leatherette' scents prepared in skilled methods by traditional craftspersons at General Motors Product Development Laboratory. / THE HUMBLE ORIGIN OF THE PRESS: traced back to a lawsuit between emnomically astute Fist and Chauffeur and the impractical inventor of movable types, the so-called Johann Gansfleisch of Mentz. / THE PRESENT SITUATION: from our historic Fiscal St. site, a 'jewel of picturesque antiquity,' we view our future location set into the side of the Transylvanian Pyramid around the 47th floor. / THE FUTURE: to retain its position in the forefront of historic revivalism, the press pledges nothing new. No creative impulses have been allowed to impinge on profit-making motives. / THE EDITION: this genuine Collectors' Item is a bona fido hedge against inflation at the special lowlow investors' introductory price of $999.95. Optional are detatchable kid gloves for $87.50 [Specify S M or L]. / THE PROSPECTUS will be available shortly. Ask your broker to countersign the Purchase Supplication.

Kein Kampf
by Anon. (but Alastair Johnston)
Anon. (but Poltroon Press)
12 × 9"

Here’s a hilarious prospectus for the prospectus of a forthcoming book from Aryan Press, a spoof on Arion Press’ prospectus for Moby-Dick. This prospectus describes the format of the prospectus as: ‘Carefully preserving the layout of every preceding fine press edition, guaranteed to fulfill the expectations of even the most antiquated bibliophile.’ The edition (again referring to the prospectus itself) is, ‘a genuine Collectors’ Item, a bona fido hedge against inflation at the special lowlow investors’ introductory price of 999.95. Optional are detachable kid gloves for 87.50 [Specify S M or L]. THE PROSPECTUS will be available shortly. Ask your broker to countersign the Purchase Supplication.’

image of broadside by Poltroon Press: Transitional Face / Great Insignificant Works of Twentieth Century Literature // In keeping with the fine tradition of such contemporary presses as Burning Deck, Tuumba, Black Sparrow etcetera, these works are characterized by feeble editing, bad presswork, monotonous formats, and half-witted design and typography, Pro-duced under the aegis of Poltroon Press [they] are too self-indulgent, slight, or embarassing for (even) the Poltroon im-print. Usually suppressed or given away, we are pleased to offer pre-remaindered copies at the following inflated prices: // vol.1 GNACHOS / Jim Nisbet $7.50 / '' 2 Voices in the Babylonian Static / A. Johnston and Simone O. $4.98 / '' 3 MORPHO / Johnston and Nisbet $7.50 / '' 4 Nine Further Plastics / Steven LaVoie $7.50 // Remit total to : Poltroon Novelty Co. / P.O. Box 5476 / Berkeley, Ca. 94705

Transitional Face
Poltroon Press
11.5 × 6"

I found this at Serendipity Books with the phony Aryan Press prospectus. I wouldn’t call this a broadside, but it’s another humorous spoof on marketing poetry, in this case, Poltroon’s Transitional Face Series, advancing ‘great insignificant works of twentieth century literature.’ This handbill boasts, ‘Usually suppressed or given away, we are pleased to offer pre-remaindered copies at the following inflated prices:’ I love the way the C caresses the pilot’s face, and how the gummy quadrilateral makes the text describing the books as ‘characterized by feeble editing, bad presswork, monotonous formats, and half-witted design and typography’ nearly illegible.


image of broadside by Allan Ginsberg: Be kind to your self, it is only one and perishable / of many on the planet, thou art that / one that wishes a soft finger tracing the line of feeling from nipple to pubes -- / one that wishes a tongue to kiss your armpit, a lip to kiss your cheek inside your whiteness thigh -- / Be kind to yourself Harry, because unkindness comes when the body explodes / napalm cancer and the deathbed in Vietnam / is a strange place to dream of trees leaning over and angry American faces / grinning with sleepwalk terror over your last eye -- / Be kind to yoruself, because the bliss of your own kindness will flood the police tomorrow / because the cow weeps in the field and the mouse weekps in the cat hole -- / Be kind to this place, which is yourpresent habitation, with derik and radar tower and flower in the ancient brook -- / Be kind to your neighbor who weeps solid tears on the television sofa, / he has no other home, and hears nothing but the hard voice of telephones / Click buzz, switch channel and the inspired meodrama disappears / and he's left alone for the night, he disappears in bed -- / Be kind to your disppearing mother and father garing out the terrace window as milk truck and hearse turn the corner / Be kind to the politician weeping in the galleries of Whitehall, Kremline, White House Lourvre and Phoenix City / aged, larged nosed, angry, nervously dialing the bald voice box connected to / electrodes underground converging thru wires vaster than a Kitten's eye can see / on the mushroom shaped fear-lobe under the ear of Sleeping Dr. Einstein / crawling with worms, crawling with worms, crawling with worms the hour has come -- / Sick, dissatisfied, unloved, the bulky foreheads of Captain Premier President Sir Comrad Fear! / Be kind to the fearul one at your side Who's remembering the Lamentations of the bible / the prophesises of the Crucified Adam Son of all the porters and the char men of Bell gravia -- / Be kind to your self who weep under the Moscow moon an dhide your bliss hairs under reaincoat and suede Levis -- / For this is the joy to be born, the kindness received thru strange eyeglasses on a bus thru Kensington, / the figer touch of the Londoner on your thumb, that borrows light from your cigarette, / the smile of morning at Newcastle Central station, when longhair Tom blond husband greets the beareded stranger of telephones -- / the boom bom that bounces in the joyful bowels as the Liverpool Minstrels of CavernSink / raise up their joyful voices and guitars in electric Afric hurrah for Jerusalem -- / The siants come marching in, Twist and Shout, and Gates of Eden are named in Albion again / Hope sings a black psalm from Nigeria, and a white psalm echoes in Detroit and reechoes amplified from Nottingham to Prague / and a Chinese psalm will be heard, if we all live our lives for the next 6 decades -- Be kind to the Chinese psalm in the red transistor in your breast -- / Be kind to the Monk in the 5 Spot who plays lone chord-bangs on his vast piano / lost in space on a stool and hearing himself in the nightclub universe -- /Be kind to heroes that have lost their names in the newspaper / and hear only their own supplications for the peaceful kiss of sex in the giant auditoriums of the planet, / nameless voices crying for Kindness in the orchestra, / screaming in anguish that bliss come true and sparrows sing another hundred years to white haried babes / and poets be fools of their own desire -- O Anacreon and angelic Shelly! / Guide these new-nippled generations on space ships to Mars' next universe / They prayer is to man and girl, the only gods, the only lords of Kingdoms of Feeling, Christs fo their own living ribs -- / Bicycle chain and machine gun, fear sneer and smell cold logic of the Dram Bomb / have come to Saigon, Johannesberg, Dominica City, Pnom-Penh, Pentagon Paris and Lhasa -- / Be kind to the universe of Self that trembles and shudders and thrills in XX Century, / that opens its eyes and belly and breast chained with flesh to feel the myriad flowers of bliss that I Am to Thee -- / A dream! a Dream! I don't want to be alone! I want to know that I am loved! / I want the orgy of our flesh, orgy of all eyes happy, orgy fo the soul Kissing and blessing tis mortal-grown body, / orgy of tenderness beneath the neck, orgy of Kindness to thigh and vagina / Desire given with meat hand and cock, desire taKen with mouth and ass, desire returned to the last sigh! / Be kind to the poor soul that cries in a crack of the pavement because he has no body -- / Prayers to the ghosts and demons, the lackloves of Capitals and Cngresses who make sadistic noises on the radio -- / Statue destroyers and tank captains, unhappy murderers in MeKong and Stanleyville, / For a new kind of man has come to his bliss to end the cold war he has borne against his own kind of flesh since the days of the snake. // London June 10, 1965

I’m using the term ‘integrated images’ to describe moments when the text and image are not the same (as in concrete poetry, where the word ‘apple’ is shaped like an apple) but rather entities that somehow touch or overlap. This proximity is distinct from the examples we saw earlier of text and image that have a consciously constructed distance between them, or display type that mingles with the body of the poem. These overlaps and intersections between text and image are often beautiful when examined in detail as they show us new things about letterforms as images and images as letterforms.

image of broadside by Lyn Hejinian: I'm sick of public life, said the swallow to the bear, said the pigeon in the square to a python / O logic, o oaks by the football stadium, o read future rooster / Risotto! / The younger child is picking out a tune on a taut rubber band with her teeth / The other person in the waiting room at Big O Tires continues reading PEOPLE / If nothing had a cause, cows could be hatched from robins and balls that fell on one day might float on another / Gratefully we watch a silent film / A clown in blue shoes, never slave to imagination, opens a satin-lined traveling case and removes a viola / A chill slip of spring's stalled layer comes unfastened / The whispering baker has no bottom to her bowl / O / We must not underestimate the risk of consciousness--it carries us into the outer world / The amiable gymnast lunges / There once was a daugher, the second of three--two is good, four is better, she said--do you agree? // Lyn Hejinian

n.d. (but 2008)
‘I’m sick of public life...’
by Lyn Hejinian
Anon. (but Gordon Handfield & Sasha Steensen at Bonfire Press)
12 × 12"

Typography and simple imagery: a bird about to pass through the big O in the poem:

O logic, o oaks by the football stadium, o red future rooster Risotto!

image of broadside by Brenda Coultas: APPLICATION // Found myself locked in Bowery mindset, settling for / less, or the reality, that my dreams were fantasies of / success and that I didn't have the appropriate language / for making things happen. The application asked me / what I would do with the money, so I was trying to / write a paragraph about what I would use free money / for. 'To buy time' I wrote 'and a new camera,' but / there was more space so I wrote 'I might buy a new / tablecloth and paint, I've been wanting to redecorate / for a while or I might go to Gettysburg with the money, / everyone says it is worth seeing. I might buy yoga lessons, / and I'd like to take a gourmet cooking class or a / photography class, also get some pictures framed and / a headstone for dad and get mom's cats neutered.' / I wanted to buy a block of time thinking of a salt block, / of how long it took the cows to tick it down into a strange / shape, and once I licked the block myself, but can't / remember the taste nor later, the taste of the cows, / even the ones I named. I couldn't explain that although / my project was inexpensive it was actually priceless, / or that I would do it anyway, with or without it. Maybe / slower or with more stress. Some things wouldn't get / done, the thing; that took cash money, not time. Or maybe / I would give up altogether; which was something I thought / about regularly. I wasn't sure about what they wanted / to hear. Since I didn't know, I became nervous. The / free money had been won by many people who live / on my block, and I thought if I could find the right / speech the money would then be mine. / (April14, 02. 75 E. 2nd St) // from The Bowery Project by Brenda Coultas

by Brenda Coultas
Land Marks Press
12.5 × 9.5"

Here’s an excerpt from Coultas’ The Bowery Project, dated April 14, 2002.

The application asked me what I would do with the money, so I was trying to write a paragraph about what I would use free money for. ‘To buy time’ I wrote ‘and a new camera,’ but there was more space so I wrote ‘I might buy a new tablecloth and paint, I’ve been wanting to redecorate for a while or I might go to Gettysburg with the money, everyone says it is worth seeing

It’s a journalistic poem titled ‘Application’ the title faintly displayed behind the first strophe. The image is equally faint, a collage of words it seems but difficult to discern even under bright light, but nevertheless, adding just a hit of texture and contrast to a poem that stands well on its own.

image of broadside by Patricia Spears Jones: Days of Awe // I feel as if my life were held together by wishful thinking / and Krazy glue. Somehow it works. / Somehow all our lives work. / Full moons or Fridays the 13th, mysterious are the ways of the spirit. Or the ways we dream ourselves awake. // Each morning a cloudless day revels in the impossible, / the dispensation of shadows. It is a ruse. God gives / and God thinks things over. And while pondering abides, / each of us has time to act one way or the other. / Give, get. Build, destroy. Laugh and laugh some more. // Splendor in the heavens, ashes on earth. / Love conjured, love lost. / Out of the corner of my myopic right eye, I spy a white van curving towards me, Sebastian at the wheel. / Face unscarred, but that's not the real story. / Out of the Bronx, into the modest comforts of Brooklyn, / he smiles the smile of a man redeemed in blood. // We do not stand still. The last of the roses open petulantly, / daring summer to end. Oh days of uncommon beauty, when the knotted heart unties itself. As trees old and young / starve their leaves into gold, flame, rust. // Patricia Spears Jones // 150 copies printed by Max Koch and Ecstacy C. Seaton / for the poet's reading at the Center for Book Arts, NYC / February 22nd 2002 / Illustration by Ecstacy C. Seaton

Days of Awe
by Patricia Spears Jones
image by Ecstasy C. Seaton
Center for Book Arts
(printed by Max Koch & Ecstacy C. Seaton)
8.5 × 11.75"

Lines of poetry and lines of string are thoughtfully integrated, although they do not overlap or touch. The traditional black and red printer’s pallet looks refreshing and bright, a nice example of a landscape format that uses clean ‘line’ imagery to create a dynamic broadside worthy of precious wall space. I also like the fact that the image bleeds, giving it a continuous and abstract sensibility that calls attention to the medium.


image of broadside by Edward Dorn: Green Poems // Lil / I'll be right back / If I come back at all // Like the Rays of a Star (fish / the Monotrematar is the lowliest mamal in the World / 1st) protein chain flash / one hold for everything // Eye props / when you snooz / you lose / (C.P. frag) //and he's been / from here to Montega Bay / Searching for the flaw // I wouldn't toutch it with a paira tongs // He came down with a Fantastic case of _____ Plague // (I never S c r u b b e d for ( // in this Land a man's wealth / is reconed by the size / of his Garbage // he was always enchanted by the dream / come true because he is the dream come true // There's room for mre response / Articulata // of the finger // MENISKOS // flam on the / horizon / Driving an / avacado w/ / a white vynil / Landau

My favorite family of broadsides are those that take the integration of text and image one step further into a state of total immersion. The text is an image and the image is a text. In instances of total immersion, the identity of the author, artist, printer, and designer isn’t always clear, and at times, the nature of the collaboration deliberately defies these traditional roles and responsibilities. These are total ‘works’ in every sense of the word. The ‘text’ is difficult, if not impossible to discern on its own, that is, if an editor were to attempt to type up, say, Ed Dorn’s Green Poems pictured above, for publication in a traditional anthology, they would have to make some substantial decisions about the author’s intention, or simply choose to reproduce the whole work, provided there was no previous fair copy to consult. This curious broadside was produced by Holbrook Teter and Michael Myers at the Kent State Arts Festival organized by Robert Bertholf in 1974. Here’s another produced on the same trip.

image of broadside by Edward Dorn: Mesozoic Landscape // Anything that looks like / A Solution / is as ridiculous as the Problem / ? // He read the Coca leaves three times / Each time they told him .. // Cascades of ) HAND JIVE // SOCIAL CONTROL // the unit / Someone hiding all over the unit // an idea has been bouncing around / the  unit in the past few hours // she let go and sprayed all over the unit / (27 yr old athlete / admitted (to the / Unit) six mos ago / 'upset because / he is getting old ' // E) eleville (mood elevators)) like a towne in Kansas // 'of couse this is all reviled / but then, thats the rush // And they reviled him entire / when they extracted the five o'clock shadow / in 1960 before the pepsi episode // episodic lunacy // a major invasion / of the modality // Electric treatment / an electospasmodic smile graced / his lips, / as he faced the crowd / ...lowd // mensural //

Mesozoic Landscape
by Edward Dorn
Zephyrus Image
11 × 8.5"

Another poem from the same workshop by Ed Dorn typeset and designed by Teter and Myers with students from Kent State. Each aphoristic fragment is set in a different font, creating different nodes or units of thought and information. One could read this as an interpretation of Olson's Projective Verse, an essay that says as much about the disposition of type on the page as it does about sound, and the embodiment of breath and space in verse.

image of broadside by Divya Victor: divya victor brace position / newlights press: baltimore/colorado springs: 03181101 // bend (thin material_ over): bend, crease) passengers / passengers // , passengers // passengers // ), // passenger // it was said: please have your boarding pass ready // it was said: please have your destination address filled out // it was said: please keep a copy of these documents for your own records // it was siad: please help yourself // a pleat or fold / , as of cloth / , as for flesh

n.d. (but c. 2011)
Brace Position
by Divya Victor
17 × 10"

Printed on newspaper for a Small Press Traffic fundraiser, Aaron Cohick’s (NewLight’s founder) collaboration with poet Divya Victor is mind-boggling. Since the paper is newsprint, no two copies are exactly the same. Cohick has applied a solid layer of white ink to the top of the sheet so the images are at once muted and magnified. There is a faint prose block with the word ‘passengers’ printed in black, reminiscent of many erasure poems, such as Tom Phillips’ Humument or Jen Bervin’s Nets. The lower half of the sheet is white text on black, while the back of the sheet is covered in blue.

image of broadside by Charles Bernstein

n.d. (but 2008)
Every True Religion is Bound to Fail
by Charles Bernstein
Auto Types Press
14 × 12"

Jeremy James Thompson describes his process: ‘I prefer to collaborate as intimately as possible with the poets whose work I print, but sometimes, as in this case, collaboration is as simple as consent. I asked Charles for a poem, requiring that it be relatively short. I described to him what I have come to call an Annotated Broadside. With his consent, I sent the poem to five poets familiar with Bernstein’s work... I asked them all to annotate the poem, adding that I understood and welcomed the possibility that most of them would take significantly unconventional approaches to the practice of annotation in this instance. After collecting their annotations, I then went to work collaborating with their texts, trying to fit the puzzle together, with the end result being a 12 × 14 page of their annotations, each cast in its own vibrant color, surrounding and subduing the poem, colored a pale grey.’

image of broadside by Anon. (Bill Berkson and George Schneeman)

n.d. (but c. 2008)
CT Scanner
by Anon. (but Bill Berkson & George Schneeman)
17 × 11"

It seems fitting to conclude this presentation by looking at one broadside that is not typographic, in fact, the only one that is as much a painting as anything else. There are many examples of handwritten poems—heck, pretty much everything before 1500—as well as lots of more recent examples, from Emily Dickinson, to Kenneth Patchen, to Robert Grenier. This collaborative painting-poem was conceived by Schneeman and Berkson, painter and poets who have worked collaboratively for decades, sometimes ‘live’ that is, together in the same room, hand over hand, and other times at a distance. Here again, the poem and the picture are completely immersed: text and image and image and text are a unified whole. Color copy signed, titled, and inscribed with date by Berkson in pencil on the back.