New poetry from Deerbrook Editions

cover grab KIN S

In these poems, Margaret Yocom offers a new vision of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm’s controversial “Allerleirauh” (“All Kinds Of Fur”), a lesser-known version of “Cinderella” that opens with incest. Erasing the Grimms’ words to reveal a young woman’s story of her journey to a new, full life, Yocom asks, What would ‘All Kinds of Fur’ say if she could tell her own tale? In ALL KINDS OF FUR , the heroine’s words rise.

Erasure is a contemporary poetry-writing practice. Poets begin with a source text of any kind and then “erase” selected words and letters, using one or several methods—such as whiting or blacking out their selections, or “ghosting” them with a gray font. What remains are erasure poems.

In her “Afterword: tale / translation / erasure,” the author explores the history of the tale “All Kinds Of Fur” (and its many, international versions) as well as her translation of the Grimms’ text. She also discusses erasure poetry more fully and mentions other erasure poets and their work.  Here is an excerpt about the author’s own erasure practice:

. . . For me, the process of erasure has not been “What words should I erase?” but rather “What words rise?” Erasure offers me a chance to make visible and concrete a conversation—perhaps, even, an argument— between two texts. Through such a poem, rather than an essay, I can disagree with other interpretations of the tale as well as the assumptions of its translators. I can also create an alternative vision that presents the way a young woman, a survivor of abuse, would tell this tale . . .

Available now only on the press site.

  Cover art: Painting Bear Girl by Anne Siems.


The Chronicle Time

If it’s greek to me—Khronos refers to quantitative, sequential time; Kairos refers to an opportune moment, having a qualitative nature.


The idea that a writer writes one long poem is tempting to apply to other endeavors. Imagine one long painting or one long symphony.

If this idea stirs up contemplating time as nonlinear in an energetic mind, that the Earth turns and rotates around the sun, almost as if in the same location once removed, then might a person be entering philosophical thresholds of thought? Imagining time as a physical gift of sun and shadow, after humans thought the sun rotated around the Earth, the sun dial is placed in an appropriate place. Perhaps cloudy days encouraged inventions like the hour glass, an excellent example of the movement of a substance to measure time.

From here one can go further with large or minute examples of time as movement, such as the human eye moving over the pages of a book or a series of images. Perhaps time has come down to the division of a moment, as dots make up a line, movement of the works of a clock divide minutes by seconds or to whatever digital devices divide, we accept that time is relatively accurate, given that so much depends on the setting of clocks and datelines (International Date Line), imagined lines (longitude) on the Earth that the light of the sun seems to cross as the Earth rotates.

How does time apply to memory? Any given stimulus can bring up a memory. That memory branches out into others. Memories are not often chronologic. What we remember relates to subjects and place rather than time. There may be an initial time a certain memory places us but then a character, subject, or a significant event, takes us off into another time. Especially with a season like spring or summer, when years of seasons can blend together so that years overlap and memories rise based on a hub, perhaps an object, like an old ice box, a beach, a shower, clouds in a sky, and memories branch out from there.

So it is with poetry. One poem’s lines can span decades, yet time is subordinate to the ideas of the poem. John Corbett says, “A poem can be oblique and still be absolutely precise.” He says, “I read poetry the way I listen to improvised music. It’s not so important to interpret an improvisation as it is to experience it.”

To some, poetry seems a perfectly natural form, invented while walking for example, to express any number of emotions one experiences triggered by a significant event or after a long reflection on circumstances leading to particular moment or place.

Poetry and improvised music share certain lyric attributes. Emotion, passion, rhapsody, intuition, and other subjective inferences.

Borges called poetry a mongrel. One can conjure his meaning. Perhaps he meant indefinable. Because poetry can support many subtle nuances through language in ways other than does prose, it can seem to be secondary for a reader that has not regarded language possessing another rhythm, without linear configuration, or more than one dimension. In truth poetry may predate prose but this is not important to debate as much as it is to accept poetry as existing prior to Classical Greek as classical in its significance for early cultures.

To draw one conclusion, without limitation, poetry and music share qualities. When perhaps the first poems were songs, as Vedic knowledge was originally spoken, voice being considered a form of spirit, then the character of a voice is fundamentally musical or lyrical. How curious that these essential expressions, music and poetry, can be both ancient and modern. By understanding them we enter the less predictive, less logical movement of time.

When we accept language and music as abstract primal expressions, that time can be theoretical relative to their creation, perhaps we enter a realm of creativity that needs no paraphrasing.



Innovation and change

Innovation and change as in life is not always Chiaroscuro and Contropasto, less rather than more dramatic, except in nightly news and advertising. In less we talk about the likes of Gutenberg.

In speaking about poetry Borges said he thought of himself “as being essentially a reader . . . I have ventured into writing; but think that what I have read is far more important than what I have written. For one reads what one likes—yet one writes not what one would like to write, but what one is able to write.” How gracious Borges is being when he says this. With all the learning and studying and practice, we are allowed to be literary by being solely a reader. This is important to us all as artists, being creative in whatever work we are doing, because reading is a personal association, we are connected by thought to another and at the same time with our own thought, we only need to be validated in our selves. Our inner creative foundation is constantly being thwarted by experience in the outer world. It must be maintained as a balance or we lose touch with creativity. Easy to say. By being innovative in our thought we can change the way we look at creativity.

A fragment of a message from a friend about design and the title page:

Alan Bartram’s Five Hundred Years of Book Design. In the event you don’t know the book, here are the opening sentences of the Introduction:
‘The history of printing is in large measure the history of the title-page.’ Stanley Morison’s little finger knew more about printing history than I have ever known, but that remark of his has always baffled me. How the text pages I show here could be extrapolated, or guessed at, from title-pages, as Morison seemed to claim, I do not know. It is they, not title-pages, that show the remarkable changes that have taken place over the centuries.

See this paper on title pages and design .


the California type case


The title page for The New Typography- Jan Tschichold

After reading the email I began to recall the history of title pages, which were largely non-existent before printing, and after were almost always static lines of type centered on an axis, at least into the nineteenth century before machine composition and the Arts & Crafts and Private Press movements, Bauhaus, and designers like Jan Tschichold in the early 20th C. tschichold 605px-Tschichold_medieval_canon.svg This is partly due to the fact that designers were not a creature of norm per se, although the master of a printing houses, such as Aldus Manutius might be considered a designer, book formats were based on paper sizes and how they folded down into sections or gatherings. The page margins having been established somewhat geometrically since the days of manuscript scribes using something of the golden rectangle proportion to determine them. Almost design by rote. Composition by hand was the method for almost 500 years, individual types being set on lines of 2 point lead all the same length, such as 20 pica, hence: the leading, whatever space was used between lines throughout a book. Early printing in Europe had its own system of measurement. All this is documented in Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises.

In relation to title pages, printing history and design, I don’t think the Morison statement was meant as an “on the surface” idea, but perhaps a reference to innovation; as the title page became and developed, one can see a display of new methods and techniques on title pages, kind of an expression of trends in printing.


Aldus Manutius was probably the first printer to invent the pocket or portable book. Small volumes, truly a “design” innovation from his imagination and attention to customer use. These small volumes must have been something of a compositors nightmare. Even though hand type setting on a stick was normal and the compositors memorization of the “type case” (learned by rote) meant that it almost didn’t matter which size the type was as all fonts sat in the cases, by letter of the alphabet, in the same location. Still, if you’ve set any type by hand, you know the “dance” involves more than type alone, and setting equivalents of 8 point or 6 point type can be visually challenging. Speed and not correctness may have been more important since the first page proof would reveal the accuracy of the compositor and his knowledge and ability at setting according to the case, oh, and the distribution of any types either from fresh castings or from previous printings. There could be problems in reuse since damaged letters were probably common and most printers of Manutius size would have a casting operation. The punch cutter Griffo worked for Aldus and one of his faces, renamed Bembo, was widely used in the 20th C because it’s alphabet length is short. This meant you could fit more on a page. Determining the size of a book is or was called the “cast off”.

Innovation sometimes comes from an idea and sometimes from something new being introduced. Times became harder for scribes as the printing from moveable types spread. Then their work, which had been to copy entire books by hand, was only used to rubricate printed pages with initials. Rubrication was one of several steps in the medieval process of manuscript making. Practitioners of rubrication, so-called rubricators, were specialized scribes who received text from the manuscript’s original scribe and supplemented it with additional text in red ink for emphasis. The term rubrication comes from the Latin rubrico, “to color red”.

littlepretty_titlepg_largeHere is a gallery of early title pages.