We spent three peaceful days in rural Kentucky at the Larkspur Press with Gray and Jean Zeitz as our hosts. In the 1970s, as a poet at the U of Kentucky, Gray had worked with Carolyn Hammer at the Anvil or King Library Press and like others who worked there he was inspired to set up his own press, so with his wife Jean he moved to Monterey KY where land was cheap, to get back to the land, farm and do what ever was required (grow tobacco, hogs, constructuion… You get the picture) to set up their own private press to print Kentucky poets.
Now thirty years and hundreds of books later they are living the dream, letterpress printing and binding poetry on a 12 by 18 C&P in editions of 5-700 copies, working exclusively with Kentucky poets, including their neighbor Wendell Berry.
While there we printed a broadside together, well maybe it would be more correct to say Gray printed it while we watched. The text is from the 1970s Whole Earth Catalog… The story of Divine Right’s Trip. I had loved that story when I first read it stretched out through the catalog, a few lines at the bottom of each page, and again, later, I read it in paper back form. I had not realized that the author was from Kentucky. Gray knew the author, Gurney Norman, who is currently Kentucky Poet Laureate, and found a passage written by Divine Right’s VW bus, that he thought perfect for a collaboration with wandering book artists traveling in a gypsy wagon.
Every October Larkspur Press hosts a wood engraving workshop with Wesley Bates. Donna found the class tools, instructional hand-out and scraps of endgrain wood and carved her first wood engraving, which we used in the broadside.
We had some beautiful weather, and took some time to work on the gypsy wagon. Donna painted Whitman’s quote on the side of the wagon. We are now looking for a travel quote for the other side from a well-known American woman author. Any thoughts?
I fixed the taillights.
Never told the story of being pulled over in Vermont for driving at night with out proper taillights, did we? The parking/running lights stopped working back in Montana or Wyoming, and I meant to fix them, but you know how that goes…. When we gave the evening lecture in Burlington, with the gypsy wagon parked in front of the library, we had to drive home in the dark. That was the first time on the whole trip that we drove at night. It was 11, a Friday night, and a probably bored policeman pulled us over, you know the drill. About an hour later he let us go with only a warning. Thank you Mr. Policeman. After that I kept meaning to fix them, but we kept moving at a relentless pace (wandering is only a figure of speech some times we should call ourselves the road warrior book artists….) until Kentucky, where everything has time to slow down.
Apparently it is an important piece of info: "Ice cold beer also available on Sundays"....
If you can get to Santa Cruz this Friday night, our town’s Museum of Art and History has a show opening about hand papermaking in Santa Cruz. We have a great display of our work in the show which we are proud of and too bad we can’t be there with you to see it. Check it out and say hi to our papermaking friends John Babcock, Laura Ito, Chuck Hilger and others!