11.18.2013

"Love Sonnet" by Amy Milton

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.


the Poet:
Amy Milton is a writer in St. Louis who graduated from the University of Missouri - St. Louis fiction MFA program in May 2013. She is currently employed in the communications and marketing department at the Missouri Institute of Mental Health. When she is not working or writing, she performs stand-up comedy at various local venues, goes on a lot of hikes, and reads too many science and feminism blogs. Despite all evidence to the contrary, she believes that the most perfect car ever is the 1996 Toyota Tercel and will be devastated when they are no longer available.
the Poem:
Amy Milton is sticking to her iambic pentameter guns, a bandolier of end rhymes draped across her chest. What’s truly dangerous, though, is her sharp, English Renaissance-style wit. Clever turns of phrase like “A selfish love…/ turns organs into ornaments” convey, in compact detail, both the pitfalls and high stakes of love. How frightening, then, to realize the safety of our organs relies on others’ perceptions (“Not who you are, but who you are to me”) something we can’t control. It’s enough to make a person want to pass on love entirely, but “even the most rotten, callous soul/ …has needs and longings out of her control.” So what to do? Despite describing love as warfare (two places where, as the saying goes, “all’s fair”) this poem advocates for the golden rule. Not because it offers a guarantee – there are none of those – but because being kind is most likely to endear you to those you’re closest to, the very same people who can hurt you most deeply. It’s at once selfless and Machiavellian. Ben Johnson would be proud.

the Design:
Body: 14pt Mona Lisa Solid
A poem that addresses intimacy and its pitfalls using the lexicon of warfare should look both delicate and dense, cold and warm. Mona Lisa Solid’s thick vertical strokes, small bowls and tall ascenders create a solid field of hash marks while maintaining significant white space. The apostrophes ride high above the letterforms like balloons or grenades mid-arc. The dots of the lower case i’s could be daggers or candle flames. It’s all in how you decide to see it.
online ISSN 2651-3801

11.14.2013

"Of Five Fears: Three of them Light" by Kelli Allen

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.

the Poet: 
Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US and internationally. She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has won awards for her poetry, prose, and scholarly work. She served as Managing Editor of Natural Bridge and holds an MFA from the University of Missouri St. Louis. She currently teaches in the MFA program for Lindenwood University. Her full-length poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, arrived from John Gosslee Books in 2012.
the Poem: 
Why does being human seem to require a stubborn preference to remain unaware of ourselves? Allen knows we’d rather not be illuminated, that the shadows are more comfortable because the low light is more forgiving. If we stay in the shadows, we don’t have to “see a wing, feel/ a ripped feather.” A very old idea, indeed, but with a twist this time: the poem’s own self-awareness. Overlaid on the light and shadow is the speaker’s frustration with cliché. She’s a writer, for sure, and not happy about having to use an overworked set of words. But they are the right words, the best words to express this idea. And so the speaker’s grudging lexicon is a reflection of the force exerted by the “bloated” sun to make her really see.

the Design: 
Title & Name: 24pt & 16pt Futura Medium, Roman & small capitals 
Body: 12pt Futura Condensed Medium, Roman & Italic 
A poem about light should cast a shadow. Not toward the right – that would be too similar to traditional italic. Toward the left, then, the whole poem pulling against its italicized fears: “shadows, light, darkening.” To take the shear and remain legible, the typeface needed to be sans serif and have evenly weighted strokes. Futura’s solid, unfussy letterforms hang together in a cool, dark swath.
online ISSN 2165-3801

11.11.2013

"Avocado Lake" by Daniel Mahoney

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.

the Poet: 
Lately, Daniel Mahoney has been writing music reviews for bands and albums that do not exist, or exist only in his head. Look for them under your boot soles. You can find him physically in Maine and virtually at http://rusticatordeluxe.wordpress.com/
the Poem: 
It’s appropriate “Those radiant opals/ That mumbled between our legs” don’t show up until the penultimate couplet. They’re the root of the speaker’s masculinity, the thing he’s driven to protect and that drives him to run long after the Indian and Avocado Lake are history. In fact, they propel the speaker through a whole catalogue of abandonment that on a first read seems headed toward regret. But that poem has been written before. That ending would read, “We listened too well,” implying a sense of loss, especially for “distant sons.” Instead Mahoney surprises with the speaker’s unapologetic allegiance to his opals – “We listened well.”– and underscores their power by keeping his speaker performing their imperative: “We ran away,/ Became fathers of distant sons.”

the Design: 
Title & Name: 60pt & 24pt Footlight 
Body: 12pt Helvetica 
Place anchors this poem so the title needed to anchor the design. The last lines of the body slip just a little lower, like the speaker slipping out of town but never really growing beyond the behaviors learned there. The thin strokes of the o in Footlight are off center so the letterform looks like it’s about to roll away. For the story itself the typeface needed to echo the unvarnished clarity of hindsight. Helvetica tells it like it is without getting in the way.
online ISSN 2165-3801

11.07.2013

"The Birds" by Ellene Glenn Moore

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.

the Poet: 
Ellene Glenn Moore is a poet and MFA candidate at Florida International University, where she holds a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fellowship. She earned her undergraduate degree in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University. During a brief stint in Cleveland, Ohio, Ellene led two introductory poetry workshops at Grafton Correctional Institution, in conjunction with the Northeast Ohio Community Outreach Project. Her work has appeared in Barn Owl Review, Dressing Room Poetry Journal, and other print and online journals.
the Poem: 
The birds of this poem are invasive, destructive, an unexplainable event, and almost none of them are described as singing. Instead, the poet embeds their song in her language. Each line has patterns of vowels or consonants, which become layered as the poem progresses. The repeated n sounds of the opening line prime the reader’s ear for “numinous and plenty as sunspots” two lines later. In the second line “littering the eaves and lintels” sends out a call of l’s that are answered in line four with “fluttered… to splinter” and so on until the whole poem is resounding with call and response. The finale is provided by the three deep o sounds, like breath across a large pipe, in “humming through knotholes, throating their notes/ in the radiator.” It’s loud without ever saying so. When the music continues after the birds have departed, it feels like a ringing in the ears in the sudden silence. The house shudders. The couple is stunned. They sleep under stones and murmur to each other about what might still be in the trees. It’s possible they might never recover.

the Design: 
Title & Name: 48pt & 30pt Stampede by Manfred Klein
Body: 9pt Century Schoolbook Italic 
There is so much movement in this poem. The text needed to reflect both the erratic energy of the individual birds and their tidal, flock-like arrival and departure. A smooth italic with strong vertical strokes like Century Schoolbook reflects that movement but also gives it a visual weight consistent with the poem’s ominous tone. For contrast, Manfred Klein’s Stampede is perfectly messy, as if the letters have been trampled and shat on, disrupted from their regular alignment. The title is stuffed into the poem’s middle like a bird that has squirmed its way into the space between the refrigerator and the wall.
online ISSN 2165-3801

11.04.2013

"K" by Marilyn Annucci

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.


the Poet:
Marilyn’s poems have appeared in a variety of magazines online and in print, and three are forthcoming in Echolocations, Poets Map Madison,from Cow Feather Press (available Fall 2013). She is the author of Waiting Room, which won the 2012 Sunken Garden Poetry Award, selected by Tony Hoagland (Hill-Stead Museum, 2012) and Luck(Parallel Press, 2000). She hopes that her manuscriptThe Private Lives of Letters (of which “K” is a part) will one day be a book. For more info on Marilyn and her work, go to: 
the Poem:
K may be the title character, but this poem is really about her relationship with n. The rules are clear: K leads with her “drop/ kick,” starts or ends any word in which she appears with a good crack. Unless n follows behind her, carrying the power of K’s own secrets. In that case n – shorter, rounder, dull – does the talking. What we readers can never know, looking in from the outside, is whether n’s knowledge of K holds her hostage or lightens her burden. Does she “talk/ smack” and stash “junk/ in her kiddy/ bank” because she likes to, or because she feels angry and trapped? “Only n/ knows/ what K/ won’t show,/ can’t speak.”

the Design:
Title: 375pt Phosphorus Dihydride by Apostrophic Labs
Name: 24pt Phosphorus Iodide by Apostrophic Labs
Body: 12pt Gil Sans
K is quite a character. She lives large and casts a shadow. Phosphorus Dihydride sports a shadow plus fine outlines, because K is also vulnerable (if only to n). For the body of her no-nonsense portrait, K needed a sans serif typeface of the same weight as her outline. Gil Sans slides nicely along her side, an entourage of letters without shadows, following K’s every move.
online ISSN 2165-3801

10.31.2013

"My Dearest Darling" by Erin Alisha Hillam

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.

the Poet: 
Alisha Erin Hillam grew up outside of a small Indiana town. Now she is a freelance writer drying out in Arizona with her husband and two ankle-biters. She is the recipient of several literary awards from Purdue University and, in addition to five published or forthcoming book chapters, her work has appeared inInscape, decomP, Corium Magazine, Prick of the Spindle, and The Monongahela Review.
the Poem: 
Found poetry presents an interesting challenge: the text is set, so the poet’s decisions are limited to line and stanza breaks. For “My Dearest Darling,” Hillam uses her lines to reinforce the letter’s emotion. As prose, “I sure hate to think about it but that is that” has a stoicism we’ve come to associate with the WWII era, but it’s amplified when combined with part of another idea, in this case the uncertainty of the duration of the war: “for a short long while. I sure hate to think about it.” Likewise “but that is that” is tempered by the gratitude of “For the wedding I’m glad you want.” A little further on the poet gives “& I sure would like to have another one” its own stanza, allowing the desire for children to reverberate separately from the logistics of military service that precede and follow. It’s an effective way to signal the heart of the poem. Life persists, Hillam reminds us, even in wartime. Especially in wartime.

the Design: 
Title: 20pt Baskerville Bold Italic 
Body: 12pt Baskerville Italic 
Name: 24pt Bank Gothic Light 
Notation: 10pt. Bank Gothic light; 10pt & 14pt Bank Gothic Medium 
Military service hangs over this letter, so the design needed to have a more regular, regimented feel than a handwriting typeface could offer. And yet it is also deeply personal. Baskerville bridges those two worlds, while Bank Gothic suggests a Teletype draft notice. The poet’s name runs down the side like the stripe on dress uniform trousers.
online ISSN 2165-3801

10.28.2013

"Buck Skin" by Jamieson Ridenhour

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here
the Poet: 
Jamieson Ridenhour is the author of the P.G. Wodehouse-meets-Lon-Chaney murder mysteryBarking Mad (Typecast, 2011) and its sequel Mad Dogs and Englishmen (Typecast, forthcoming 2014), as well as the short films Cornerboys and The House of the Yaga (both featured at GeekNation.com). His poetry and fiction has been published in The Lumberyard, Pseudopod, Strange Horizons, and others. In Darkest London, a study of the Victorian Urban Gothic, was released in 2013 by Scarecrow Press. Jamie lives and writes in Bismarck, North Dakota.
the Poem: 
It’s easy to get caught up in the sound and imagery of this poem, how the s and t sounds repeat in a phrase like “bristle-stiff/ skin parts like drapery,” how that same phrase honors the animal’s beauty without flinching from the hunter’s task. What really makes this poem hum, though, is its central question: “Why are you afraid?” Surely seeing a deer disemboweled for the first time creates some of it, confronting the blood and viscera that precede a trophy and a meal. But if that were the poem’s only concern, it would amount to nothing more than a cheap shock. Instead the poet shows us the mess then steps back to consider how “skilled and focused” the men are. This is old hat to all of them, “even him,” a man singled out again as the speaker tries to calm his fears. “There is nothing he can’t see,” nothing about killing and gutting a deer that is shameful, and yet the speaker’s heart tells him otherwise.
the Design: 
Title & Name: 30pt & 24pt DpQuake by Dead Pete 
Body: 12pt Didot 
“The knife/ is curved and sharp” the better to take apart the deer’s body, layer by layer. The typeface needed to have a similar shape, something with marked contrast in its strokes, plus round bowls. The s’s and o’s of Didot provide that shape, an echo of the knife sliding, half hidden between skin and muscle, then flashing visible as it cuts the organs loose. DpQuake goes a step further; the thin, horizontal strokes disappear entirely as the knife bites deep.
online ISSN 2165-3801

10.24.2013

"Totentanz" by Mitchell Storar

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here
the Poet: 
Mitch Storar is a medical student at Ohio University. His work has appeared in Jelly Bucket, Weave, Fugue,and several other publications. He lives outside of Athens with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Morgan.
the Poem: 
William Blake, in his Songs of Innocence and Experience, uses parallel poems to compare two views of the same subject: one ideal and one fallen. But Storar knows these two states exist simultaneously in our minds. We vacillate between perfect ideas and their flawed reality. “I suppose it was more poetic in our heads,” the speaker says of “living simply,” and the realities of wood-burning heat certainly wore the couple down. What hints of joy there are (homemade bread, playing sundial in the middle of a fairy ring) quickly fall apart. Beautiful ideas keep appearing (fruit, gold wine) but they’re never realized. Instead they hang at the poem’s end, just a glimpse of something better amid the disappointment.
the Design: 
Title & Name: 30pt & 24pt Roman Antique Italic, designed by Dieter Steffmann 
Body: 11pt Roman Antique 
What life there is in the place of this poem (a cabin? and old farmhouse?) is the life associated with decay: mushrooms, a garden gone to seed, nearby fire. But the place still stands and the couple persist awhile, so the typeface needed to reflect that weathered state. Dieter Steffmann’s Roman Antique is mostly there, but its edges waver, as if once crisp letterforms can no longer hold the line against encroaching white space.

ISSN 2165-3801

10.21.2013

"Method" by Rob Talbert

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.

the Poet:
Rob Talbert has worked in a jail, an ice cream store, and on a cruise ship. Before moving back home to Texas, he received his MFA from Virginia Tech. His first book of poems, Jagged Tune, is forthcoming from the very awesome Mad Hat Press.
the Poem:
This poem starts clearly enough with “I took a cab down Commerce Street” but what sense can be made of a line like “I drank from the mall of lit bottles”? And was there or was there not a cover at Citrus? Unlike everyday language, poetry isn’t required to convey clear, concise information. Meaning can derive from sound and emotion, too, which is this poem’s strength. Talbert’s method is kaleidoscopic: the same words and phrases tumble like colored beads into startling new images like “The sky was a cab door shut on a dress.” And they keep tumbling, so the mall can be both closing and closed; ribbon can mean the street or a girl’s hips; the speaker can both ride and walk along Commerce Street. It’s all so confusing and anxious, the rhythm of each line pounding like a drum. And even though the poem itself must end, it gives the impression that it never will, even before the last line tells us so.
the Design:
Title & Name: 30pt & 24pt Garamond Bold Small Capitals
Body: 12pt Garamond in combinations of Roman, Italic and Small Capitals
The jumble of images and phrases in this poem chafes against the regularity of its couplets. Using different styles of the same typeface accentuates that repetition without destroying the continuity provided by regular structure. To be successful, though, that single typeface had to be versatile, which is to say legible in many styles: Garamond.
online ISSN 2165-3801

10.17.2013

"Ode to the Lovers Upstairs" by Jennifer Fandel

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.
the Poet: 
Jennifer Fandel's poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry, RHINO, The Baltimore Review, Calyx, Architrave Press Editions, Midwestern Gothic, and A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry (University of Akron Press). She lives in St. Louis, Missouri, in a house, though she remains attentive to the actions of her neighbors.
the Poem: 
So often love sonnets flatter and promise eternal devotion without stating their true goal: getting the beloved into bed! How refreshing then, to encounter a sonnet that takes sex as its subject, that turns annoyance – startled awake, light fixture shaking – to invitation. The “turn” is one of the joys of the sonnet form: an established idea challenged in some way, reexamined in a new light. Our comfortable downstairs couple gets to rethink themselves, enjoy something both new and renewed while we readers smile slyly, thinking of our own plans.
The Design: 
Title: 34pt Optimus Princeps 
Name: 24pt Optimus Princeps 
Body: 12pt Euphorigenic, designed by Typodermic 
Shaking windows, a reverberating ceiling… this poem requires a typeface that sways, something just a little out of control. Euphorigenic lets its capitals descend from the baseline to match the descenders of the lower case letters. The lower case t half dangles and the crossbars of the lower e and a have a precipitous slant, yet it all shakes together. Optimus Pinceps provides a little more discipline for the title with a dash of fun in the pronounced serifs, arranged as steps to mount before the poem can begin.
Editorial & Design by Architrave Press, St. Louis 
Letterpress printed by Paper Boat Studios, St. Louis
online ISSN 2165-3801

8.27.2013

Edition 5's Release Party Is Set!

All systems are go with our printer, Paper Boat Studios and the good people at the Tavern of Fine Arts for our next release reading and party!

Friday October 18
7pm

Readers will be:
Kelli Allen
Jennifer Fandel
Amy Milton

Now I just need to pick a color for the inserts and get all that copy written. See you soon, poetry fans!

6.24.2013

Gotham Gets A New Face

Unfortunately, Katia Bachko's entire piece on Clearview, New York City's new typeface for all road signage, is behind The New Yorker's paywall. If you've got a subscription you can read the whole delightful thing, and come to a new appreciation of how difficult it can be to render a legible fraction on a road sign. According to James Montalbano, one of Clearview's designers, fractions are "a uniquely American thing. Elsewhere, it's metric--they're all decimal."

The New York Times is a little more generous and will let you read this piece in its entirety, and will show you pictures of the old and new signage.

But maybe the best evidence that typeface selection really matters is from the Clearview website itself:
What designers call 'reduced halation.'

5.23.2013

"Midwest Lullaby" by Jennifer Fandel

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.


the Poet: 
Jennifer Fandel’s poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in The Baltimore Review, Midwestern Gothic, Little Patuxent Review, Natural Bridge, Calyx, and A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry (University of Akron Press). She is a freelance writer in St. Louis and a contributing editor for River Styx.
the Poem: 
Lullabies generally attempt to comfort the one being lulled to sleep, but there is no comfort here. It’s easy to imagine each couplet as a separate person or family, tucked in behind their “pinpoint of porch light” hearing the train pass and offering their association with the sound: escape, a howl, death and despair, changed perspective. Slowly those voices accumulate, become a single, collective verdict: “Here, everyone’s waiting.” We’re not told for what, and perhaps that offers a small comfort after all: the strange, stoic solidarity of being lonely together.
the Design: 
Title & Name: 30 & 24pt Phosphorus Oxide, designed by Apostrophic Labs 
Body: 14pt Averia designed by Dan Sayers 
This poem needed to move like a train, and while trains in the United States don’t generally run on steam anymore, it felt appropriate to arrange the poem as if it were a cloud rising back, away from the engine. And since this train isn’t going to stop, the typefaces needed to be there but not there, solid but mostly empty. Both typefaces seem to be evaporating in their own way, Averia in the normal fashion and Phosphorus from the inside out.

Editorial & Design by Architrave Press, St. Louis 
Letterpress printed by Paper Boat Studios, St. Louis

5.20.2013

"On Keeping" by Ryan Smith

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.


the Poet: 
Ryan Smith is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Missouri - St. Louis, where he has tutored undergrads in writing. He has twice won the UMSL Graduate Prize in Poetry, and he is an assistant editor for the journals Natural Bridge and WomenArts Quarterly. For his proofreading services to the Kentucky State House of Representatives, he has been commissioned as a Kentucky Colonel.
the Poem: 
A poem about keeping something – a buried, secret something – is really a poem about the fear of loss. This poem takes a step back, though, and starts with the original, even more basic fear that motivates keeping: that of hunger. We’re caught, as Smith’s speaker well knows, in a world where assuaging one fear creates another. But he also offers us “a thread, a thread/ you follow to its source.” It’s not named as such until late in the poem, but it’s there from the beginning in the strings of repeated words. Initially those repetitions convey anxiety, but as they pile up they take on the rhythm of a mantra. It will all be alright, the speaker tells himself. “Relax… Relax.”
the Design: 
Title & Name: 24 & 18pt Baskerville Semibold Italic 
Body: 14pt Baskerville Italic 
This poem has such restless energy; it leans forward like a squirrel looking around for the perfect place to bury a nut. An italic typeface would echo that stance, but which one? Unlike some of its contemporaries whose italic versions are slightly irregular in their slant from letter to letter, all Baskerville’s letterforms lean together as one, pursuing the end of their line. The title and poet’s name needed to be similarly restless, obsessive, but not a blur; a touch of bold for one iteration anchors the eye within the field.

Editorial & Design by Architrave Press, St. Louis 
Letterpress printed by Paper Boat Studios, St. Louis

5.16.2013

"Take My Morning" by Michelle Lee

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.


the Poet: 
With a PhD in literature from the University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Michelle S. Lee headed for the Atlantic coast where she teaches composition and creative writing courses at Daytona State College. A freelance writer for nearly twenty years, she has published across genres in a variety of literary spaces, which include the introduction to a Simon & Schuster Enriched Classic and a podcast/article for the Poetry Foundation to Text and Performance Quarterly andNorthwind Magazine. She is experimenting with multi-genre texts, as well as the novella form. Contact Michelle at doctormichellelee.blogspot.com orleem@daytonastate.edu.
the Poem: 
Add this poem to the myriad variants of Red Riding Hood, but don’t let that limit your reading. Certainly there’s plenty of sexual tension and gore consistent with the original tale, but Lee’s line breaks add something different. Each forms a separate unit of meaning that works against the sentences. So while the poem’s overall tone is fatalistic (“I can’t come/ to any sort of happy ending”) there are also lines that declare the speaker’s powerful sense of self (“heartedly, bones and all. I am”) and moments of quiet enjoyment (“your hunger at bay, make a fire”). The line “in the shudder of your craving” by itself suggests hunger for both food and sex but isn’t necessarily violent. And that’s the nature of intimacy: letting someone get under your skin means getting hurt for sure, but there is also that warm fire and the opportunity to be close, “for us to stay the night.”
the Design: 
Title & Name: 36 & 30pt Ghastly Panic designed by Sinister Visions 
Body: 12pt Phosphorus Selenide designed by Apostrophic Labs 
A new version of an old story needs a new typeface that looks old. Phosphorus Selenide fits the bill perfectly while also being a little gothic – not in the typographic sense of being without serifs but in a fashion and literary sense. The lowercase t could double as a curved, silver dagger and the descender on the lower g could be used as a scythe. Wolves, beware. You may be able to scratch your name in a style like Ghastly Panic, but the lady of this poem is onto you.

Editorial & Design by Architrave Press, St. Louis 
Letterpress printed by Paper Boat Studios, St. Louis

5.13.2013

"Outside the Hotel" by Kirby Wright

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.


the Poet: 
Kirby Wright was a Visiting Fellow at the 2009 International Writers Conference in Hong Kong, where he represented the Pacific Rim region of Hawaii and lectured in China with Pulitzer winner Gary Snyder. He was also a Visiting Writer at the 2010 Martha’s Vineyard Residency in Edgartown, Mass., and the 2011 Artist in Residence at Milkwood International, Czech Republic. He is the author of the companion novels Punahou Blues and Moloka’i Nui Ahina, both set in the islands. The End, My Friend, his futuristic novel, will be released in 2013.
the Poem: 
The sentiment of the second half – that “the dance we do” in the face of tragedy “means everything” – can seem naïve, even quaint, especially if you happen to read this during a period of personal upheaval. Kirby Wright knows we all live there, sometimes, but he also knows we inch forward, couplet by couplet, through other emotional territories. If you happen to read this poem during a period of personal renewal, “the hours of promise/ before the dawn” may feel just right. Either way, the poet offers us perspective and a chance to see ourselves more clearly.
the Design: 
Title & Name: 30 & 24pt Eccentric 
Body: 14pt Didot 
Dancing on a hotel lawn late at night is an ecstatic experience, highly Romantic. It needed a typeface like Didot, where the difference between thin and thick strokes is marked and gives the letterforms a sense of movement. Didot is considered a neoclassical typeface, but it was first designed around the beginning of the nineteenth century when Romanticism was taking hold in Europe. Eccentric is brand new for the twenty-first century, but has a sway of its own plus a height that reinforces the idea of a tall, thin window frame, through which the action of the poem can be glimpsed.

Editorial & Design by Architrave Press, St. Louis 
Letterpress printed by Paper Boat Studios, St. Louis

5.09.2013

"Father's Day Snapshot" by Jen Ferguson

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.


the Poet: 
Jenny Ferguson is a Canadian studying for her PhD at the University of South Dakota. She will admit sometimes she cries in the bath while listening to the original cast recording of Les Miserables. But she’s pretty sure that’s not the strangest thing you’ve heard today.
the Poem: 
Ferguson tells a story in prose sentences and fragments, but she makes music, too. Listen to how the s and ch sounds repeat in “a sucking chest wound a chance,” with the ck in “sucking” providing a downbeat for the two ch’s. Or the repeating long and short a sounds in “labor, that nasty, happy pain and I’m thinking of tomatoes.” There’s rhythm, too: “Each passing November: my grief on a shelf in the cellar.” It enters the ear subtly and rises in volume with successive readings, working as a balm against the painful subject, but also as an expression of love for the departed.
the Design: 
Title & Name: 22 & 18pt Futura Condensed Extra Bold
Body: 12pt Futura Condensed Medium & Medium Italic 
The speaker of this poem is so wounded, so vulnerable that a more expressive typeface would compete with the emotion of the poem. Futura, in classic modernist fashion, is self-contained and cool. The capital I, the speaker’s proxy mark, stands with hands to its sides like a pillar. It is created in a single stroke and functions as a hedge against “breaking apart under heat.”

Editorial & Design by Architrave Press, St. Louis 
Letterpress printed by Paper Boat Studios, St. Louis

5.06.2013

"Letter to my Wife Written on the Walls of a Blanket Fort" by Adam Tavel

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here


the Poet: 
Adam Tavel received the 2010 Robert Frost Award, and his forthcoming collections are The Fawn Abyss(Salmon, 2014) and Red Flag Up (Kattywompus, 2013), a chapbook of letter-poems. His recent poems appear or will soon appear in The Massachusetts Review, West Branch, Indiana Review, Zone 3, Cream City Review, Bayou, and The Cincinnati Review, among others. Tavel is an associate professor of English at Wor-Wic Community College on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
the Poem: 
It’s significant that this poem is a letter, not a direct address, and that Annabelle isn’t named until the poem is nearly finished. Parenthood can be like that: the needs of the little person in your midst are so immediate, so consuming that time for anything else, including nurturing the love that inspired parenthood, runs scarce. It’s easy for the child to come between you. At the same time, though, the speaker knows caring for “our monster” is also caring for Annabelle; his impulse to record for her the wonders of their messy, smelly day is for reconnection. And in the silence just after the poem, the reader is wrapped, not in the drool soaked afghan, but in the depth of feeling that brought the speaker and Annabelle together. Which makes this the best sort of love poem: alive to the dirt and drama, but still in awe of the beloved.
the Design: 
Title & Name: 36 & 30pt Filament designed by Gaelleing 
Body: 14pt Gill Sans Light 
By definition, anything written on a structure as ad hoc as a blanket fort is itself even more ad hoc. The typeface, therefore, had to look hastily scratched but still legible enough to carry a long title. Filament has the look of chicken scratch gone over and over to make it darker and blocky, while Gill Sans appears to be the clearest, most regular strokes of Filament. None of it has much weight, and therefore might be obscured the moment someone walks by, shaking the walls.

Editorial & Design by Architrave Press, St. Louis 
Letterpress printed by Paper Boat Studios, St. Louis

5.02.2013

"Downtown Station" by Michael Jones

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.


the Poet: 
Michael Jones teaches at Oakland High School in Oakland, CA. His work appears in Atlanta Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and other places.
the Poem: 
Places have a rhythm all their own, sometimes subtle like the growing season on a farm, sometimes blatant like the workday rush of a downtown train station. Jones makes the crush of the crowd palpable in all those iambic feet galloping along (“He peeps a foot that can’t stop shifting”) with only the occasional jostle of another pattern (“To him, they’re the show”). The pattern of end rhyme is contrapuntal, city music at its best. The kind of song you don’t need to be able to name, just feel, like you would a passing stranger.
the Design: 
Title & Name: 24pt Optimus Princeps Semibold 
Body: 14pt Champagne & Limousines 
The “he” in this poem is really enjoying being watched by the “they.” It’s almost as if “their” faces are his mirror, hence the doubled, reversed arrangement for the poem’s body. All this see-and-be-seen suggests a Jazz Age party, and Champagne & Limousines, while a new typeface, is styled after that era. The complimentary typeface had to be a little more severe, suggest signage outside the station while still retaining a hint of C&L’s roundness. Optimus Princeps has similarly wide bowls but also severe serifs and verticals just right for a signpost.

Editorial & Design by Architrave Press, St. Louis 
Letterpress printed by Paper Boat Studios, St. Louis

4.29.2013

"I Have Heard of People Being Born with Tails or with Webbed Feet" by Gary Leising

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.


the Poet: 
Gary Leising’s book of poems, The Alp at the End of My Street, will be published by Brick Road Poetry Press in 2014, and he is the author of two chapbooks of poems, Fastened to a Dying Animal, published by Pudding House Press, and Temple of Bones, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. His work has appeared in many literary journals, including River Styx, Cincinnati Review, Prairie Schooner, Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics, and Vestal Review. He teaches creative writing and poetry classes at Utica College in upstate New York, where he lives with his wife, Melinda, and two sons, Jude and Ewan.
the Poem: 
Who among us hasn’t wished some part of ourselves away, or at least wished it was better than its current form? There’s the rub: what exactly is “better?” And that’s what makes this poem interesting: “better” for this speaker doesn’t mean being more like other humans, to fit in; instead he wants to retain his eccentricity, just in slightly different form. Not because he’s desirous of companionship – it’s his wife he tells about their neighbor’s dinner – but because he wants to startle people further. In the speaker’s fantasy he’s not limited to looking strange. He can behave strangely as well, violating personal space in an intimate and obnoxious manner. Maybe that’s what’s most human of all about his wish to be “better” – not the wish itself, but that it’s rooted in being hurt, in wanting to deliver a comeuppance, and the belief that a different type of strangeness will liberate him.
the Design: 
Title & Name: 20 & 18pt Bodoni Bold 
Body: 12pt Echelon 
Such a quirky poem deserves a quirky typeface. Not completely over the top – the temptation for a poem about tongues would be to choose something with extravagant ascenders and descenders – but still, something with a bit of a squiggle. Echelon’s legs – those parts of the lowercase k or uppercase R, for instance, that kick out and down from the main vertical stroke – show the necessary curves. And of course the title had to whip along the top of the page, but eccentric layout requires the typeface be classic, smoothly legible: Bodoni.

Editorial & Design by Architrave Press, St. Louis 
Letterpress printed by Paper Boat Studios, St. Louis

4.25.2013

"Seeds" by Lindsay Lennox

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here.


the Poet: 
Lindsay Lennox is a writer living in Denver, Colorado. She writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry on good days, and punk rock song lyrics on bad ones. She’s working on a novel about identity, heroes and rock & roll. Her work has appeared in Flashquake, Thought Catalog, thickjam, the Monarch Review, Underground Voices and elsewhere. www.lindsaylennox.com
the Poem: 
Perhaps it’s the invitation at the end; perhaps it’s the sweetly self-conscious “you know” in the second line, or maybe this poem’s appeal lies in how round it is. It’s more than just the last “we could” clasping the end to the beginning; each instance along the way functions like a bead on a rosary, one round little prayer after another, each with a wish for a different kind of growth, a new entrance to intimacy with the other half of “we.” The speaker’s hope is so palpable, so sincere, that when she says “we could start now/ we could” her hope becomes yours, and you feel renewed.
the Design: 
Title & Name: 42 & 30pt Orial, designed by Salman Boosty 
Body: 12pt Optima 
Orial, with its inscribed vines and suggestion of buds, draws the eye. All those intricate lines, swirling against the thick black letterforms, are an obvious corollary to the title and its hoped for growth. What requires a closer look is how those vines create figure and ground, how they divide up the letterforms into pieces at once separate from and indispensable to the whole. It complements Optima’s ever-so-subtle flare – a seeming wish for serifs – by letting its vines occasionally escape their boundaries.

Editorial & Design by Architrave Press, St. Louis 
Letterpress printed by Paper Boat Studios, St. Louis

4.11.2013

"Personal" by Michael Bazzett

Click the image to read the full text of the poem, or purchase it here


the Poet: 
Michael Bazzett has new poems forthcoming inPloughshares, Redivider, Massachusetts Review, Pleiades, Salt Hill, Literary Imagination and Prairie Schooner. He is the author of The Imaginary City, recently published in the OW! Arts Chapbook Series, and They: A Field Guide, forthcoming from Barge Press in early 2013. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two children.
the Poem: 
The Maori traditionally apply tattoos with chisels, a painful, elaborate, and scarring process marking those within the tribe as members of distinction and accomplishment. Though branded like one, the speaker is not Maori, and is instead a self-described “white guy” who still hasn’t found what he’s looking for. He’s pretty cheeky, too, what with that pun on “golden calf” and the crack about Nietzsche’s funeral. He even insists the commandments be a “mutual/ exchange.” His flippant tone, though, is a way to take a light hand with strong emotion. And therein lies the genius of this poem: its speaker wants to be both loved as an equal and surrender wholly that love. As an equal, he’ll maintain a “resonant silence” even as he seeks to lose himself within it.
The Design: 
Title: 52pt Neudorgger Scribble, designed by Manfred Klein 
Name: 28pt bold capitals & 18pt lower case Goudy Old Style 
Body: 14pt Goudy Old Style 
This poem’s design needed to reflect all its references, and what better way to do that than to make another? Maori tattoos, philosophers, old testament images turned on their heads and re-presented in a contemporary form not usually associated with poetry… this speaker wouldn’t be content with a personal ad that blended into a solid column of type. It needed to be illuminated. After all, that’s what we seek when we venture into scripture, philosophy or love.

Editorial & Design by Architrave Press, St. Louis 
Letterpress printed by Paper Boat Studios, St. Louis

4.01.2013

Edition 4 is Almost Here!


We'll celebrate Edition 4's arrival at our usual hangout, the Tavern of Fine Arts.

Reading promptly at 7pm:
Jennifer Fandel
Ryan Smith
Emily Grise

Come a little early or stay afterward to enjoy the Tavern's excellent menu, peruse their latest art installation and talk with the poets. All previous editions will be on sale as well, with discounts for purchase of multiple editions.

2.04.2013

This Friday at USML: Literary Journal Publishing Panel

For those in and around St. Louis, this Friday Natural Bridge will host a free literary journal panel. Architrave will be just one among many regional journals discussing the nuts and bolts of it all. If you've ever wanted a peek behind the scenes, this will be a great opportunity to get just that.

All the information is in the flyer (at left). I'd love to see you there!


1.30.2013

The Next Big Thing


The talented and brilliant Mary Stone Dockery tagged me for The Next Big Thing blog hop. Thanks Mary! Be sure to check out her chapbook Aching Buttons out this month from Dancing Girl Press!

What is the working title of the book?
Independent City

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I moved to St. Louis in 2005 and the city started right in on me. The way its layers wear thin and poke through, the buried past resurfacing, various states of decay and renewal coexisting next to each other – it’s a great way to explore how the past informs the present and how place is never just a place but also a time. It’s everywhere you look: sometimes just a few inches of an old streetcar track poking through the blacktop, sometimes a 20th century house built on a prehistoric burial mound. And I live in the midst of it; I affect this place just as I’m affected by it.

What genre does your book fall under?
Poetry, mostly of the short lyric variety.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Alas, James Mason has passed away and can’t reprise his role as Captain Nemo. I’d love to see him wandering around, waiting for a sinkhole to open and swallow him up! Albert Pujols would play himself, as would Brigit Kelly. After that, I’d only ask that the film be shot entirely on location. I’d want the texture to be authentic.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
I’ll quote G.K. Chesterton: There is no stone in the street and no brick in the wall that is not actually a deliberate symbol – a message from some man, as much as if it were a telegram or a post card.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’ve lived here for seven years, and while I didn’t realize I was writing this book when I first arrived, that’s how long it has taken.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The City of St. Louis swallows its tail every day. It falls apart, glues itself back together willy-nilly, argues about everything, and wears its Arch like a crown. Even its ugly bits have a strange beauty.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s not all bricks and I-beams. There’s a lot of biology, too, because the places we make are a reflection of how we change and grow and die.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Hopefully this manuscript will find a home with an indie poetry press.

One of my favorite writers who will answer these questions next week:
Emily Grise