THIRTY-SEVEN SMALL SONGS & THIRTEEN SILENCES
Gaspereau Press, 2005
Designed by Andrew Steeves and printed at the Gaspereau Press printing works.
Published in an unlimited trade edition and 30 hardbound specials from the first printing.
Gaspereau Press is a small publishing outfit located in Nova Scotia, responsible for some of the most finely produced trade editions I own. Steeped in traditional book craftsmanship, the press, which generally uses modern offset litho printing for the contents and letterpress for the covers of its editions, has been voted ‘Best Small Press Publisher’ in Canada three times – an award well deserved.
This particular volume of poems by Jan Zwicky is my favourite among the Gaspereau volumes I own. It’s an exceptionally well produced little book that rather blurs the line between fine press and trade publishing. The cover is quite lovely, being a wrapper (around card) of a gorgeous deep plum coloured Saint-Armand handmade paper printed letterpress in silver. The inside, elegantly and immaculately designed using the handsome Dante type, is printed offset onto a high quality laid paper and is everything a trade edition should aspire to be, but sadly rarely is. My hat goes off to Gaspereau for making this, and such a great range of other beautifully designed and made publications, available at such a reasonable cost.
But to the content, which is what really makes this volume a Books of the Moment entry. Zwicky has, in this volume, created a collection that could not be more to my liking. Describing it at its most simple, it is a series of brief poetic meditations and haiku that frequently focus on the natural world in some way. They are, I think, exquisite, with a piece called ‘August Fields’ a particular wonder that I can easily get lost in. Zwicky’s ability to describe the subtle beauty of the natural world is masterly and I have rarely come across other pieces that paint imagery quite so well. The haiku that finish the collection are, again, beautifully crafted meditations. Indeed, they put much of what I have read in that form to shame. Piece for piece, this is one of the very best collections I have read for a very long time. It is a treat of a volume that nourishes with each sampling.
Click here to see more of the edition on the Gaspereau Press website, where copies may still be available.
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