“The Overallness of the Book”

Some remarks from Simon Cutts of Coracle Press

Q: How do you balance artwork and text in your books? What is the importance of this balance? What are the different effects of the variety of relationships that might exist between art and poetry in the book format (consider the difference between poetry-art books in which images are used to “illustrate” a text, those in which a text is used to accent artwork, those that aim to more fully integrate the two art forms, etc.)?

SC: There is no linear approach to these things, just a conceptual whole that you work towards from the details of materials, paper, print process etc., and the idea for the book. I feel in the wake of modernism, after concrete poetry, after fluxus, after conceptual works, there is no possibility in the linear approach your questions work from.

It seems almost as if the Cendrars/Delauney (La Prose du Transsibérien et de La Petite Jehanne de France) motif you have used for this occasion is too nineteenth century for its purpose, too much an archetypal illustrated text, when we are in need of something much more conceptually whole. It’s a question of finding the simplest approach within an understanding of the gestalt.

Q: How do you select artwork and poetry that will be published together in one volume? What are your primary criteria for each art form? Which comes first in your selection or publication planning process, ­image or text?

SC: Ditto the above : they are never separate

Q: What is your sense of your press’s readership? Who is your intended reader? How do your readers figure in your understanding of the total “meaning” of any individual book you’ve published? What role does your sense of your readers play in your publishing decisions (selecting texts, images, publishing model, etc)?

SC: In a post-Mallarméan world, the reader is built in to this overallness of the book, but more quizzically, there would be Lowenfel’s “One reader A Miracle. Two, a mass-movement.” Or Pound’s “I join these words for four people…O world I feel sorry for you. You do not know these four people.” There is a whole practical discussion to be had, about survival, persistence, warehousing , distribution, bookshops and libraries, yet denying the idea of marketing which is anathema, but I sense this is not the place for it.


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