Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Black Sparrow Press I hardly knew thee

I love books for many reasons. Content is one reason. But I like them as objects that are activated by a reader. Books are tricky because they are simultaneously experienced as a one to one, intimate relationship between an individual viewer and the book object; but at the exact same moment are mass marketed so that the one to one experience is replicated repeatedly. Powerful stuff.

I loved Black Sparrow Press. Black Sparrow Press is iconic, started by John Martin of Santa Rosa in 1966 -- years ago I bought a collection of Bukowski's poems and was so impressed by the book design that I searched out their books by George Oppen, William Everson, Diane Wakoski and of course more Bukowski. I have recently learned that the best-known book designer there was Barbara Martin and the exceptional typography was by Graham Mackintosh. Sadly Black Sparrow shut down years ago (2002 I think). Though you can still purchase items from the backlist

I might also add, the title of the above poetry collection is one of my all time favorites. I doubt many publishers would encourage such a long title these days. 

When I recently asked for press suggestions I was told this UK press might have similar qualities. Salt publishing.

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