Tuesday, October 11, 2011

two versions of "The Reach" by Robie Liscomb

The Reach
Robie Liscomb
Pentagram Press

The Reach
Fathom Press

Two version of the same poem, I happened to track down Robie Liscomb over the summer and from one of our correspondence comes this description of the versions, “At first I assumed that the version of The Reach that you have is the summer 1979 printing in Japanese paper wrappers containing just the one poem. This was printed by Michael Tarachow of Pentagram Press in Markesan, WI, as a going-away present for me, as my wife and I were about to leave Chicago to live in Taiwan.

I wrote the poem on Jan. 1, 1977, in Chicago and it was first published in what I remember as the first piece published by my Fathom Press (in collaboration with Richard Lin Bodien) in spring of 1977. That little book, identified as “journal II sp 77/baolin books/fathom press” contained poems by Richard, me and Stephen Field. Actually, now that I think of it, your email probably references THIS chapbook rather than the later printing of the poem.

I got to know Richard as he was the husband of Carol Lin Bodien who has a graduate student in Indian art history at the University of Chicago, where my wife, Kathlyn, was a grad student in Chinese art history. I was starting my press and had just purchased a little Kelsey tabletop press and some type and Richard and I wanted to collaborate on a printing project. Stephen Field was a friend of Richard’s as was Sarah Burnham Mertz, whose limited-edition etching was used as the wraparound cover.

The typeface is Century Old Style, the only type I had on-hand, as it came with the press, which I bought from the daughter of a printer whose father gave it to her as a present. The text paper is something called Tweedweave that we found at a local paper supplier’s warehouse. I’m not sure whose awkward calligraphy is reproduced. All in all, I consider this to be a rather pedestrian effort, except for the etching, which I quite like.”

And that’s about all one has to say about that – seek and collect! These are incredible chapbooks!

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