30 August 2009

Waiting for Watching for Smoke

Actually, I'm not waiting at all, because it won't get finished if I just sit around. Instead I'm working towards Watching for Smoke, the poetry chapbook by Helen Heath, which I'm (ie Seraph Press) about to publish/am in the process of publishing.

From the very first, when I suggested a chapbook to Helen, it was quickly obvious it was going to have to be something special. Of course, all the books I publish are special - I don't publish very much, and I'm totally in love with everything I do publish; I feel I have to be - it's not as if I have a surfeit of time to just throw away. But one of the first things Helen mentioned when we first talked about this book was knitting needles.

If you know Helen, or read her blog, you'll know that as well as being an accomplished poet, she's pretty crafty. Crafts are even mentioned in one of the poems, 'Hooks and needles': 'those hooks / those needles / what we craft.//We make our beds / and sometimes / we bleed on them'. So knitting needles incorporated into the book seemed very appropriate. But how? It sent my mind spinning in various directions, and I've made quite a few prototypes, to see what might work and what won't.

I've also talked to lots of people, who have given me lots of ideas. This has been quite a collaborative process, particularly with Helen herself, but thanks also to Emma, who suggested the grey card, Lesley, who gave me some ideas about how to cut it, and Art-and-my-life Pauline, who sent me a consignment of knitting needles all the way from Mosgiel.

So now I have a final design. The books will have a wrap-around cover, which will fasten with a knitting needle or crochet hook (mostly needles - crochet hooks are hard to come by cheap), and will have a cut-out through which the title shows. They're going to be beautiful - fittingly so, to match the poems they contain. The cover is the aforementioned grey card (the colour is 'Twilight' in English, and 'Crépuscule' in French), and it's all going to be bound together with red hemp thread (the same thread I used with yellow covers on Scarab). I'll have pictures soon!

So now I'm working on how to make it happen - and happen 100 times. It is involving much fiddly cutting, but I've been inventing ways to make it all a bit easier and repeatable. I've been using those problem-solving skills you're always supposed to demonstrate in performance reviews. I've made templates out of bits of plastic from some folder I found in the study and which neither Sean nor I were particularly attached to, and using not one but two different kinds of craft knife.

Getting the text pages printed was the easy part - I sent my pdf off to the lovely folks at Wakefields Digital (who remain my fav printers) and a full of beautifully printed and folded arrived on my doorstep a couple of days later.

So I'm going to spend the rest of today constructing more of these little treasures. Fortunately I don't have to get them all done at once, but I do need to get enough done for Helen to take to Palmerston North on Wednesday, for her guest reading at Stand Up Poetry at the Palmerston North Public Library.

And watch this space for details of the launch we're planning to welcome Watching for Smoke into the world - probably late-ish in October.

1 comment:

Tim Jones said...

It sounds great - I'm really looking forward to seeing it