Sunday, May 10, 2020
Telephone Company Repairman Poems by Barbara Moraff (1983)
Telephone Company Repairman Poems
#294 of 400 printed. Signed by poet. Another incredibly handsome book by this inventive and influential press. Unpaginated. Letter pressed. Hand sewn.
One can see the effort and can imagine the frustration at the same time. Frustration in the sense that these delicate books were never going to make their way onto a bookstore shelf and be properly displayed. This book is thick enough to have a spine with text but doesn't because it was hand sewn without any spine cover at all. So beautiful, so delicate. It's not surprising that the following year, 1984, is when Toothpaste transitioned into Coffee House Press. Ironically, on the CHP website there is no mention of Toothpaste Press whatsoever. Even though they say the press started in 1972 in Iowa as a letterpress operation. Well, yes, that is true. To a point. But give credit where it was due. Coffee House began in Iowa AS Toothpaste Press. They moved to the Twin Cities and rebooted as Coffee House Press to make books with spines that could get onto book shelves across the country! At least be honest about it!!
I happen to like the efforts of Toothpaste much more than Coffee House. While I do understand who Allan Kornblum made the decision that he did, I still mourn the loss of the special quality that the chapbooks lost in the transition to perfect bound books. sigh