Collaboration and Dual Roles

The relationship between poet, artist, and printmaker often involves collaboration.  A printmaker’s love of poetry will lead them to compose, and a poet’s love of fine printing leads to an interest in the craft.  In the world of poetry and fine printing there exists a strong propensity for dual roles, which leads to a mutual respect for one another’s work and a more informed finished product. 

"Bound" Carolyn Whitesel

"Bound," Larkspur Press, Carolyn Whitesel, author and illustrator  

"Bound," Larkspur Press, Carolyn Whitesel, author and illustrator

Carolyn Whitesel’s experience as a book binder, artist, and poet inform her approach to projects, since she has knowledge about the process and choices available.   The broadside “Bound” was printed as a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Whitesel’s “Yellowbird Editions” for an exhibit at Capital Gallery in Frankfort, Ky.   She composed the poem and produced the artwork.  Her drawing reinforced the themes of the poem:  “Book:  as physical object, as vehicle for words & reading, the “open book” of a life examined.  Leaf:  visual echo of the leaf/leaves dual meanings, fallen leaf as emblem of letting go & the passage and cycles of time, contrast/harmony between the manufactured object & the natural object.”  The choice of printer was Gray Zeitz of Larkspur Press who has a reputation for allowing poets and artists a strong voice in their collaboration.  In the case of "Bound," Whitesel advocated for a design that presented a large version of her illustration atop the poem layout that resembled an open book.  Zeitz chose “his favorite red for the illustration, lightening the visual ‘weight’ of the image a bit and adding just the right accent.”  Zeitz’s openness to collaboration as a printer and Whitesel’s experience in multiple roles produced a meaningful broadside.

What we are thankful for and why

"What We are Thankful For, and Why," Gray Zeitz, October Press, wood engraving by Wesley Bates

"What We are Thankful For, and Why," Gray Zeitz, October Press, wood engraving by Wesley Bates

Gray Zeitz is most comfortable in the role of printmaker, yet for “What We are Thankful For, and Why,” he takes on the role of poet.   Zeitz relinquished his role as printer and gave complete control to Deborah Kessler of October Press and former apprentice at Zeitz’s Larkspur Press.  At King Library Press Kesseler developed, “a love of the classic, beautiful look and feel of a balanced page, printed in black and ‘Hammer red,’ on gorgeous paper.”   In addition to the red ink she used American Uncial type, developed by Victor Hammer.  The illustration is a wood engraving by Wesley Bates, who often works with Zeitz on many of Larkspur’s projects.  The mutual respect and trust for one another paid off in the collaboration.  Both were happy with the final product.