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Progress with The Book

August 27, 2017

Fortunately I have access to a young person, my son Gabriel, who installed the new printer and came back the next day to figure out why it was printing my pages four to an A4 sheet instead of two. I had two paper-jams on the first day of printing, possibly because I’m using recycled paper, but at least they are easy to deal with.

I still feel very nervous around this new piece of equipment. I was even quite reluctant to start printing, because until I actually got down to it there was hope of success …

I now have ten chapters ready to bind, and I’ve chosen the ten best leaf-prints to use as chapter-dividers. I’ve made the boards. They are covered with shibori indigo cotton that I dyed a couple of years ago, and lined with a collagraph print that is more like 15 years old. Keith Smith’s “Exposed Spine Sewings” is open on the table and my six needles are threaded. I just might make that deadline!


More on The Book

August 18, 2017

All was going well until yesterday.

I’ve been working on the layout, putting photos in and taking them out again,  moving stanzas from one column to another, micromanaging the typography down to the last 8-point character-space in an 11-pt line which would not otherwise fit. The working title has been abandoned in favour of a better one suggested this morning by Fiona. Thanks, Fiona! Thanks too to Bill of Vineyards Press for his generous insights on the finer points of  page-design. And to Peter for purging the poems of whimsy.

So what happened yesterday? I’d printed, trimmed and collated the first seven chapters and was printing the eighth when my printer made a funny noise and stopped. It demanded that I turn it off. I googled the problem without much success. I peered into the innards and they remained inscrutable. I looked at its paperwork and saw that it’s nearly six-and-a-half years old, which must be at least 96 in human years. The new printer will be here next week and I anticipate a stormy honeymoon. Will we get on or will we hate each other? Will I meet my deadline?

Meanwhile I’m contact-dyeing rag-paper with leaves from the Butleigh trees, and covering boards with indigo resist-dyed cloth for the hard covers. It makes a welcome change from staring at a screen. Fiona has just given me some indigo yarn which I hope to use for the Coptic sewing of ten sections of unequal thickness. This is going to be a beast of a book!

Holly Moon rising

July 20, 2017


Between the Oak Moon of June and the Holly Moon of July I’ve spent three days and a night of site-specific writing at the Dove. Just observing and writing. It’s a wonderful feeling when the writing flows. First in the pocket-notebook, and then in the weeks of editing, I’ve been shaping a mass of observations into a sort of map or snapshot of this special place at this moment in time. It has fallen naturally into three-line stanzas. More than 250 of them at the last count … with photos, drawings and prints.

Then there’s a book to make of it all for the Tree House Library by the end of August.

At the same time I’m moving into my new studio, through a new opening in a two-foot-thick rubble wall into next door. I’m patchwork-papering the walls, which were coated in the 1970s with a sharp rough texture, hard as cement and capable of skinning a knuckle. It’s going to take more than one layer to tame them. The floor is patchwork too, due to woodworm damage.

patchwork wall 1

The first layer is torn-up newsprint from a big roll given to me years ago by a friend I miss badly. I’m happy that she’s here is a small way. This layer dried to an almost uniform pale grey, so I’m glad I have a photo. The second layer will be odds and ends from the recycling bin: early drafts, corrected proofs, misprinted pages, offcuts, flyers. Then probably a thin coat of paint.

I’m also editing a new anthology, Feast, for the Fountain Poets of Wells, to be launched at the Wells Food Festival on Sunday 8th October.

And on Wednesday I stood in unity at Shire Hall in Taunton with friends from Unison to resist creeping privatisation of what used to be a service but it now rather alarmingly referred to as an industry. An industry in which over 27% annual staff turnover is the national average. So nothing wrong there then!

in unison

Lastly, I’m thrilled to have a poem in the July issue of Right Hand Pointing. A poem written during my visit to Poland earlier this year.

Our exhibition: A Book in the Hand

June 25, 2017


I’ll be at the opening event on 28 July, and stewarding all day (with a book under construction) on Wednesday 2 August.

ABCD: Tracks

June 2, 2017

I missed last week’s meeting due to a clash of dates, but Jane has sent me some photos and captions. Thank you Jane!

Above: NIna
1. “Comfort”: a small ball book is comfortably surrounded by rolls of torn letters that she found in a skip, all enclosed in a circle of rusty metal.
2. “Winged”: three blue stitched winged forms.
3. “Imagined world”: a colourful hanging book.
Pauline  "Tracks through Fire, Ice and Ash"
Above: Pauline
“Tracks through Fire, Ice and Ash”: a box containing a pullout book of patterns and colours relating to her five days in Iceland.  Her travel diary is on the reverse.
Above, L to R in first photo:
“Tracks” A book of tracks through Roche Court sculpture park, some of her butterfly walks and Teresa May’s political walk in Wales.
“Tracks”, using a book she had made on a bookbinding course to record walking various tracks including the Sweet Track.  The book also contains her response to “Resonance”.
“Tracks”: A meticulously made cd cover. Second photo shows the inside.
Caroline:  "Repetition" A Bhudist prayer wheel
Above: Caroline
“Repetition”, a Buddhist prayer wheel with the chant ” Om mani padme hum”.
Above: Janine
“Imagined world”, a remake of her tunnel book.
“Winged”, a concertina pop up book of creatures that fly off the pages as you open them.
“Tracks”: a book of CDs.
Above: Clare
An experiment with making a box for her “Winged” tree.
“Repetition”: a form of ledger book of overlapping torn pages, each containing a short sea-poem in wavy lines reflecting the torn edges of the paper.  Indigo dyed paper covers.
Judy "Tracks in the New Forest"
Above: Judy
“Tracks”:  Using a double sided ordinance survey map of the New Forest, Judy has created continuous coils of tracks she has found in the forest, all contained in a circular box.
Jane‘s own planned books of limpet tracks were not completed in time. We look forward to seeing them.
Next meeting: June 24th.


Invitation to a first performance

May 29, 2017

pages version poster four

This is a sonnet sequence by a very fine poet. It will be performed in full as a half-hour play.

Oaks for remembrance

May 28, 2017

Last October we planted two young oak trees in memory of my lovely aunt who died a year ago today. Twelve family members were there, including two of her great-great nephews.

The trees worried me by coming into leaf later than most of the oaks nearby, but now they are looking healthy and happy.