Quelquefois Press ~ California
(Mary Laird)

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Quelquefois Press: "Mary Laird, MFA, UW Madison, has published letterpress books since 1969 as Quelquefois Press and as partner in Perishable Press Limited from 1969-84. Ms. Laird loves teaching letterpress. Currently she is a board member and teaches at San Francisco Center for the Book, where rumor has it, editions of 40 chapbooks are cobbled together and printed in a day with eight itinerant devils."

Kindred Flame
Six Poems

By Anita Barrows
Berkeley, California: Quelquefois Press, 2008. Edition of 101.

6.75 x 10"; 34 pages. Letterpress printed on dampened Johannot text. Illustrated with abstract woodblocks. Bound with Barcham green Chatham endpapers and cover papers. Covers lined with masa then hand-stenciled on the Chatham side. Laced binding. Sewn on double cords with red kangaroo laces from Australia. Handsewn headbands in red and white.

Mary Laird: "Over ten years has flashed by since I first asked Anita for poems. The Bixlers set them during the first year. I was busy working to finish other books, got side tracked, and so on. Life interrupted art, so to speak."

Anita Barrows, introduction: "It was not until Mary Laird set these poems in type and showed me the book that they might be, that I realized that the central image recurring throughout the collection was flame. As I write this, I am acutely aware of the flames that threaten, in so many forms, to destroy our world. But there is also the searing, purifying energy of flame, which, as it did for Dante climbing the mountain of Purgatory, demands that we challenge our comfort and our fears; and, there is the light that exists within all beings and which, in many traditions, is understood to be lit from a single flame that does not diminish as it continues to offer itself.

"At a moment of great transition in my life, I dreamed I was handed a bowl of water on the surface of which was a living flame. My task was to hold the bowl, as I moved through my days, carefully enough so that the flame would not be extinguished. But the dialectical nature of flame asks also that we confront Tagore's line, 'Evidently the only way to find the path is to set fire to my own life' — that sense in which there are things, within us and outside us, which we must burn so that a more deeply creative and authentic way may be revealed. We are continually called to distinguish between that which must be preserved and that which must be transformed by some process initiated by destruction. All authentic relationships demands that choosing, as does all development and, indeed, all revolutionary change."

Penguin.com (USA): "Anita Barrows, a prize-winning poet and a clinical psychologist, is the author of four books of her own poetry and the recipient of an NEA grant as well as the Quarterly Review of Literature's Contemporary Poetry Award. She has been a professional translator for more than thirty years."

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Received honorable mention in the Carl Hertzog book competition 2009








The Cost of Gold: Twenty-two poems
By S. R. Grosslight
Berkeley, California: 2001, Quelquefois Press. Edition of 96.

4.5 x 6.5". Letterpress Sabon Antiqua with Goudy Engraved and Dante types on Fabriano Vergatona paper.In an Edition of 96, copies A–Z are sewn coptic-style through wooden boards; copies 1–70 are walnut paper covers with exposed sewing on leather straps.

This book has an immediate presence in the hands. It is of intimate size, like a small journal promising secrets. The walnut covers are sturdy, yet supple, like leather. Curiously, a gold ladle bisects the front cover and signals that as we open, we will be dipping in, taking nourishment. Reading these carefully crafted poems is akin to reading private pages. Grosslight's perceptions reach into our own closely held memories, wishes, thoughts. We are captivated. Designer/printer Mary Laird so ably and aptly renders poetry to page that this elegantly printed collection is a pleasure to read and handle. The rounded folio corners recall a composition tablet and the size fits comfortably in the hands. Laird anchors the poems to the bottom page margin, as she did so successfully in her last edition, The Affirmation of Shadows. Deep red titles at the top corners are echoed by the red binding cord at the signature centers. A centerfold drawing by Kim Vanderheiden renders the initial poem into image and is printed in offset.

This is a handsomely composed book, a carefully crafted container that aptly conveys the text therein.

$185 Standard version in walnut covers


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The Affirmation of Shadows
Poetry by William Cirocco
Artwork by Mario LaPlante
2000. Edition of 75.

5 x 11.25"; 32 pages. Letterpress from Dante type on Lana Laid paper. Drop-spine binding (attributed to Gary Frost) with linen spine and Japanese silk over boards. Handmade slate endpapers.

Twelve poems form a coherent textural whole in the sense of a Bach suite. The physical arrangement of poetry and page suggests deepening and development. The book itself and the first poems have epigraphs printed in light gray, a dropping in of other voices whose words repeat and themes reverberate in the bodies of the poems. Poems are anchored to the page bottom leaving a changing margin at the top like the rising and falling of hills or waves. For the first six poems, titles are on the left-hand or verso page with poems to the recto. Then mid-book, a fusion—the movement of the poems condenses to title and text together on the page, evoking a sense of urgency that overtakes space. The last poem reintroduces the original page spread layout, offering breathing space again, quieting to close. The dynamic design evokes emotion and suggests approach. It is the score that underlies the individual play of words on page and ear as it supports the inherent music of Cirocco's texts.

Beautiful book, moving poetry.

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Quelquefois Press Sold and Out of Print Title:

• The Cost of Gold: Twenty-two poems (Deluxe edition)
• Journal Poem / Bangor Maine


Nine Poems
By Denise Levertov
1996. Edition of 90.

The stiff brown paper of the handmade covers appropriately recall a monk's robe and are handsewn with vellum-like straps in a mostly non adhesive binding. Walnut crinkle endpapers. Letterpress printed in Spectrum and Sabon with black and red inks.

Poems of spiritual presence serenely presented in a slim volume. An epigraph from Nicholas Herman of Lorraine, a lay brother with the discalced Carmelites at Paris in the 1660s, whose letters and some account of his life have been preserved as "The Practice of the Presence of God," gives a sense of the book's themes.


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SnakeTrain. FreightTrains
A Poem in Four Parts
By Joe Napora
Berkeley, California: Quelquefois Press, 1991. Edition of 150.

7 x 10"; 25 pages. Handset in Didot Sabon Antiqua. Printed on Fabriano Vergatona, Mohawk Cover and ten year old Shadwell. Concertina binding with Coptic stitching with blue paper illustrated wraps. Designed, printed and bound by Mary Laird. Signed by the poet.

The four parts of the poem are listed as Jack O'Diamonds, King of Clubs, Queen of Hearts, and Ace of Spades. The corners are rounded as are playing cards and the title covers to the poems are colored according to suit. An accordion of notes is provided for further information and is tucked into a pocket.

Joe Napora is a poet and essayist living in Ashland, Kentucky, where he is professor of English at Ashland Community College. His poetry books include SIGHTE, The Name Book, Bloom Blood, To Recognize This Dying, and 1917: Sentences & Bills. He is the former editor and publisher of BullHead, a magazine of new poetry, and BullHead Electric, an online poetry and review magazine.

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Page last update: 08.22.17


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