Monday, December 20, 2010

Great Book Covers

Some of my favorite 2010 book covers.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review of Population Me

"What is valid about McGimpsey's work is that he himself is not dismissing or endorsing the products or moments of pop culture triviality that appears in his stuff. He's simply a part of the pinball operation, the trajectory if you will. The essays in Population Me are well-crafted and varied, and cover all of the author's greatest hits to date. It was nice to read Elizabeth Bachinsky gush like a schoolgirl about McGimpsey, like she was writing about him from prison or something. It would be great if this book would just fucking get out there and into schools and stuff and not be forgotten. Come on people, do something about it. Ask your teacher to bring McGimpsey into your class and talk about things. I'm sure your classmates will thank you. Pay him to come to your school. Have a garage sale. Jason Camlot and Alessandro Porco shine in their contributions, but man is Nick Mount's essay full of validity, and really shows how McGimpsey's work fits into contemporary literature…"

Read the rest of Nathaniel G. Moore's review in Broken Pencil here.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cool Typographic Covers

The graphic designer David Pearson recently did a series of Cormac McCarthy book covers. They look textured, gritty, and reflect the dark content of the novels. They give the feeling of "wanted" Old West posters. I love them!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gordon Press (part 3)

The Palimpsest open house is in a few days and my letterpress is finally assembled. It has been sandblasted, primed, and spray painted matte black. Many thanks to my husband and his family of strong, able-bodied men who were able to hoist and assemble this cast iron monster. Now with the strenuous lifting done (my husband actually laughed at me when I asked if he needed my help), and the complicated jigsaw complete, I can finally get to work. I still need the rollers recast but that will be an easy task, comparatively.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ariel Gordon Tour Pics

Authors included in these photographs are Jonathan Ball, Ariel Gordon, Tracy Hamon, Christine McNair, Pearl Pirie, and John Toone.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Palimpsest Press Office and Letterpress Studio
OPEN HOUSE at 5 King Street in Kingsville
Tuesday December 14th, 12pm - 8pm

Come join us at our new location. Have a tour, check out the letterpress, eat a cookie. Palimpsest has been publishing and providing graphic design services for over 10 years. It is celebrating by opening its doors and having a sale.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Detours Book Submission Call

Detours: Images from Windsor, Essex County, and Pelee Island
To be published in fall 2012 by Palimpsest Press

Image Submission Call
We are looking for artistic photography that represents this area. Some suggestions might be interesting characters, vistas, architecture, old barns or churches, fence rows, railway yards, factories, fruit stands, festivals, or marinas. We are not looking for postcard pictures of flowers.

Step #1—Query by email first with a few low-res jpeg files (.72 or 150 dpi).

Step #2—If you get the go ahead then please mail us a disk. The disk should have a maximum of 12 tiff images, and they are to be high-res at 300 dpi.

Text Submission Call
We are looking for poetry or prose-poems that relate to this area and convey a distinctive voice. We are not looking for rhyming, clich├ęd, sentimental or distinct religious writing.

Step #1—Query by email first with 2 -3 pages of text pasted into the body of the email. No attachments please.

Step #2—If you get the go ahead then please mail us a hard copy of your work (12 pages maximum). If we want to use a poem, we will ask for a digital version for typesetting.

Submissions accepted from September 1, 2010 until January 31, 2011. Submission Email:

Contributors will be paid with copies of the book.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Poems and Drawings of Elizabeth Siddal

I recently bought Poems and Drawings of Elizabeth Siddal, published by Wombat Press in 1978. I'm so impressed with this slim hardcover book. There isn't much out there that collects Siddal's poetry and art together, much less in such a beautiful edition.

Title page with self-portrait.

A scan of a hand-written letter from Georgiana Burne-Jones.

Lady Clare in watercolour. From a private collection.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Renovation Complete (mostly)

 For those who ask for a definition.

I like silver dogs who don't bark.

My large work table with modified letterpress drawers as legs.

                                              My ceiling!

Old window frame with vintage letterpress blocks inside.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Poem From My Chapbook FRAMED

The Pet, Walter Deverall, 1852. Oil on canvas.

She stands in a doorway, on the threshold
between home and garden, peers inside
a bird cage. Yet another type of enclosure.
It is no wonder they love their captor—
well fed and doted upon, the canary is full of melody,
the dog lazily snuffles at your feet. No cares gnawing
at the bone. All kindness and kisses.
So you think.
___________Protection has its costs.
Birds flounder in sorrow. Wings clipped,
they feel for the hand reaching in as one feels toward
a punishing god. Yes, they are pampered, given teeny
treats, fed daily morsels until docile and blithely paunch.
The dog, taught to beg for affection, must always
be pleasing. If it disobeys, the hand that now lovingly
strokes the ear’s soft cushion of fur, will strike
quick as lightening. Pain pulsing
through its skull, the high pitched yelps, its nose
rubbed into the mess it made.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

My daughter dressed up as our dog, Keiko, for Halloween. And Keiko dressed up as a hot dog, in case any of us got hungry and needed a snack.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Palimpsest Press 2010 Ad

Palimpsest Press titles can be purchased from your local bookstore or on-line. As always, we encourage you to buy locally from an independent bookstore. Sales representation is provided by The Literary Press Group of Canada and distribution is through LitDistCo.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rejection Letters

I recently received a rejection letter from a literary journal. Not so odd as I have received several over the years, but this one was different in that it had check boxes where the editor ticked the box that explained why your work was rejected. It was so terribly funny in its ruthlessness. Of course, I might have felt different if the box checked was by the line, “Your work was very bad. Very bad… Please never submit to us.” Having to send out rejection letters myself, I completely sympathize with such a statement although I couldn’t imagine actually using it. Often I have thought extensively on how to tell the poet that his/her work is very bad, without actually saying those words. I typically rely on something like “your poems have potential, keep working at it”, which is stretching the truth quite a lot. However, judging someone’s work is always subjective, and just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean that everyone else will think the same way. Plus, I hate to be mean. Wouldn’t calling the work “bad” be a devastating blow? They may stop writing altogether and if they’re passionate about writing, who am I to crush their spirit.

But despite my best attempts at diplomacy, I have received many angry notes in response to my rejection letters. People have accused me of everything from “only choosing authors who are willing to play the game”(I have no idea what that means) to “not knowing quality writing if it bit me in the face”. I have been called “cruel” and “indifferent”. Once, in an extremely long-winded letter, I was denounced for being like this poor guy’s ex-girlfriend “who gets hurt by assholes and then cries on my shoulder.” I’m not exactly sure what this has to do with his poetry submission, other than he believes women reject him wrongly, but I think his troubles are greater than this since he felt inclined to send a stranger a four-page long woe-is-me letter. However, all this nastiness got me thinking about honesty and our willingness to put it out there despite the costs. My version of charitable falsehoods provoked such fury that I doubt it would have been worse if I had said it was bad. I think people read through the niceties and assume you are saying something negative, so what happens when I really mean it, when I think the work does have potential but requires some more editing. Then what? Perhaps it comes across as dishonest when I’m not being dishonest. Sincerity is a hard thing to come by, and I don’t think as a culture we value it enough.

But where does honesty cross the line? When we don’t ask for the opinion, but it is given anyway? (“You should change before we leave. Those pants don’t look good on you”).

When the opinion is perceived as cruel? (“Why? You’re saying I look fat”).

But is it only a perception? Perhaps the person is too sensitive. (I’m insecure about my having a big ass).

Perhaps there is no cruel intent. (He thought that you’d look better in a different pair of jeans. Maybe the ultra low-rider ones that show your crack when you bend down was not your best decision.)

If the opinion was not intentionally cruel, but is none-the-less perceived as cruel, is it cruel? I guess that depends on whom you are asking. Reality is what we make it, and the reality may be that despite your intent the person finds your comment cruel. So, in the end, that has nothing to do with you. You have no control over another’s perception of reality. Your truth is based on what you know and the other person’s truth is based on his/her experiences. Ask your sibling to describe a shared event from your childhood, and you’ll see what I mean. Truth is always filtered.

I know that I am not comfortable telling someone that they are a bad writer, or even that I find their writing to be bad. I guess I am not comfortable with presenting my opinion in such unflinching terms, that is, to label it good or bad. And, for the record, I am not talking about reviews, as that is part of the literary debate and a whole other discussion. I am only referring to rejection letters and how to word them appropriately. As a publisher, I have to decide what is worthy of publication and what is not. This is not a purely subjective matter, but there is some subjectivity involved. There are many worthy titles, as I deem them, but I simply don’t have the funds and resources to publish them all and looking back over the last decade I know that my aesthetics have changed. I don’t think that my opinions are so varied, but they are fluid, and they have evolved over the last decade. But running a press means that I have to make business decisions, which requires making value judgments on a manuscript: the value to my press, the value to Canadian literature, the value to the market. Regardless of my passing judgment, which I do all the time, actually labeling a work “bad” leaves, um, a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps I am spineless, a CanLit coward, but I think there is a certain egotism that goes with such definitive pronouncements that I simply don’t possess. So be it. In the end, I am not interested or comfortable labeling work good or bad. Frankly, I find the discussion on subjectivity and how we determine worth, either as individuals or as a community, much more interesting.

As far as cruelty goes, I never intend it with the rejection letters I send out, but seem to inflict it anyway. If I give too little then I am “indifferent” and if I give my honest opinion I am “cruel”. It seems the only good response is, “I love it and want to publish it without changing a word”. Well, if that is what you want, all I have to say is good luck with your self-publishing venture. In the end, I will continue to write very little on my rejection forms, as going through hundreds of submissions really is quite tedious and time consuming. Occasionally, if I have the time and deem the work worth the extra attention, I’ll offer some general critique and hope the person takes it for what it is — only one person’s opinion. Ignore it, consider it, refute it, do with it what you will, but when you submit your work to a publisher at a press or journal you are asking us to judge your work and, with that, there is risk.

P.S. — please stop sending me hate mail. Wasn’t askin’ for your opinion anyway.

And by the way, low-riders that show your thong or pants slung down under your ass isn’t flattering on anyone.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


This is a picture frame I bought at a yard sale. I painted the frame black, installed tiles and wire for hanging cards on. There is so much negativity in my business at the moment, having seminars called "The Death of the Book", that I have created this small yet beautiful gallery of inspirations and gratitude. I also occasionally receive what can only be called hate mail, and these notes of thanks remind me that what I do matters. It restores my heart.

A window frame reclaimed from my husband's office. It received (not so much a restoration) but a good cleaning. I like the, um, rustic feel of it. I plan on hanging it from chains in my letterpress studio and placing wooden type on the dividers.

This, oddly enough, is a file cabinet. It looks a bit like an apothecary cabinet but is actually a horizontal filing system. I've never seen one before and it is quite impractical as the drawers have to be completely removed to take any files out. But I think it is beautiful and will use it anyway. Practical is as boring as Mary Jane flats.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rascally Rhymes softcover

The Naming Book of Rascally Rhymes gently pokes fun at the foibles of children, and the playful, lively rhymes are written in a way that appeals at different levels to both parents and children. Here you will find Abigail who has a face “that’s as sweet as an angel, but when she sings her song, it turns strangely bestial” and Ian who “ate worms and toads and rocks a la mode.” Quill and Quire, the Canadian publishing industry magazine states that Preston’s “vivid illustrations are well-suited to the book’s playful nature… It’s a book children will want to look at after you’re done reading.”

“Jordan Troutt has penned a witty and re-readable book of deadpan rhymes… With silly wit that’s a hairsbreadth from nonsense, Troutt seems to channel the spirit of Lewis Carroll … Sarah Preston-Bloor’s whimsical illustrations are an ideal complement to the verses, colourfully depicting wide-eyed little darlings in a variety of misadventures. This is the kind of book you’ll thumb through for a giggle even when the kids aren’t around.”
— Our Children Magazine

“Troutt perfectly blends an upper level alphabet book with rhymes to produce a humorous selection of poetry. The illustrations are expressive and go hand-in-hand with the poems. This collection of rhymes is very entertaining and full of silly fun, making it great for storytelling.”
— Resource Links
Paperback now available now for $10.50.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Review of Hump

Jonathan Ball wrote a shortish review of Hump on his blog 95 Books, in which he admits, "I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to, given that this generally isn’t my 'thing'." He also states that Gordon "has a good eye for alliteration and internal rhythm and makes better use of compound adjectives than I’ve seen in a while."

Read the entire review here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Framed chapbook

ISBN 978-0-9784917-8-9
Chapbook edition of 60
$20 CDN

A detail from the cover.
The keyhole reveals the collage end sheets.

Framed explores the life of Elizabeth Siddal, who was married to the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. From the working class, Siddal’s association with influential artists and their upper-class patrons was dramatic and life altering. As a model, then pupil, she quickly developed artistic ambitions. Although she became a painter and poet in her own right, she is best known as a Victorian muse and the inspiration for her husband’s paintings. Although some supported her artistic development, including her husband and the art critic John Ruskin, they did so while upholding the doctrine that a woman’s primary duty was to her family. In Framed, Kresan regards class and gender as rigid structures that confined Siddal and the primary lens through which she was viewed.

Framed can be purchased from the Palimpsest website here.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Framed chapbook: work in progress

My chapbook, Framed, based off of my full-length poetry collection Beata Beatrix will soon be ready for purchase. It is a year late but still... here is the colophon.

Chapbook edition is limited to 60 copies, signed and numbered by the author. The binding has been hand sewn with linen thread. Laser printed on Neenah columns text paper in classic natural white. Collage end papers created with text and images from Russell Ash’s Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Harry N. Abrams Inc, 1995). The cover has been laser printed on handmade St. Armand Ontario flax canal papers. Published by Palimpsest Press in 2009.

Here is a picture of some of my collage pages.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Article: Moving Words

Fiona Lam wrote an interesting article about the history of the poetry in transit program. Kate Braid's poem "The Beauty of Men" is included in this year's list of chosen poems.

Read the entire article here.

Kate Braid standing under her poem on a city bus. It even has a picture of the cover of her book!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Poetry in Transit

Kate Braid's poem The Beauty of Men, from Turning Left to the Ladies, has been selected to be involved in British Columbia's poetry in transit program. Congratulations Kate! She will be reading at the poetry tent during the Word on the Street Festival, September 26th at 2:00pm. Here is the poem:

It is not violence but muscle –the force to do –
curled and bent and burning

They deny it. Hide it. Rip it out
with hammers and knives and guns, even crosses
if they have to.

These are the signs of the beauty of men:
set jaw, the shimmer of muscle
eager to lift beyond any limit, lost

in the wild pleasure of motion. They will move the world
with their own two hands, force it if they have to, doing
what mere thought didn’t know had to be done.

— Kate Braid

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Gordon Press (part 2)

Disassembled, sandblasted and primed. Hope I can get it back together. Thank goodness I'll have help. The man I got it from generously offered his assistance.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

An Open Door Book Launch

Come out to Collected Works on September 23rd to hear Elisabeth Harvor read from her new poetry collection, An Open Door in the Landscape, and to sign books. Starts at 7:30.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Gordon Press

A year ago or so I bought a gordon press from a man in Michigan for $50. Quite the deal if I can get it to work. The rollers need to be recast, there is a large crack to be brazed, and the entire thing is completely rusted. It will have to be sandblasted and then primed before the cast iron starts to rust all over again. Iron oxidizes quicker than many metals. Then it will have to be repaired and painted. I have a lot of work ahead of me. And moving something that weighs over 300 pounds isn't exactly easy. It can be disassembled but putting a thing like this back together becomes a bit of a puzzle. I can see it now... "and where does the pin thingy go?"

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Books for real readers

Books for the he-reader and she-reader, not the e-reader!

With the air abuzz with discussion about the art of the book versus digitization, the LPG has decided to focus on celebrating where brick and mortar books excel at bringing the reader a special -- and unparalleled -- experience. Books that feel good in your hands. We're talking heavy paper stock, intricate design and illustration, over-the-top typography, offset printing ... all those things that book geeks like us care about on top of straight-up impressive content. Titles that are gorgeous inside and out.