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

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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

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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

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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 na├»ve, 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

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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