Type as Visual Form

The poet uses words to express thoughts and feelings which are reinforced by the printer with the tools of design and type.  Languages often attract printers, as they offer the ability to explore the possibilities of both layout and type. 


"Pangur," Ninth century Irish monk, Polyglot Press

"Pangur Bán," Ninth century Irish monk, Polyglot Press

The first time Arthur Graham of Polyglot Press encountered the poem “Pangur Bán” was through the W. H. Auden translation for Samuel Barber’s "Hermit Songs."  The poem was composed by a ninth century Irish monk about his cat.  Graham has printed a version of “Pangur Bán” in Old Irish using the American Uncial typeface. 


The Monk and his Cat

"The Monk and his Cat," translated by W. H. Auden, Polyglot Press, illustration by Charles A. Jolly

"The Monk and his Cat," translated by W. H. Auden, Polyglot Press, illustration by Charles Jolly

The broadside of the translation of “The Monk and his Cat” is accompanied by artwork from the architect and artist Charles Jolly.  About fifteen years ago Graham began using photoengraving, which opened new design possibilities with images.  The translation is printed using Rudolf Koch’s Peter Jessen Schrift.  The typeface compliments both the engraving by Jolly and the version in printed Old Irish.  Graham enjoys printing in many languages, often performing his own translations.  In choosing type he looks for a face allusive to period and nationality of the text and uses original spellings and letterforms.