“Something Suggestive in a Single Line of Poetry”

Some remarks from Macy Chadwick of In Cahoots Press

Q: How does your choice of publishing model (livre d’artiste / luxury edition model, handcraft / fine press model, low-cost / higher distribution model, etc.) shape the meaning of the book works your press produces?

MC: I come to artist’s books from the point of view of an artist–handmade books are my mode of expression, just as stone may be the chosen medium for a sculptor. As a printmaker, I found it increasingly important to incorporate text in my work, and this path naturally lead me to book arts. I established In Cahoots Press in 1998 and I print and bind books in small editions, yet I consider myself more an artist than a publisher.

Q: How does the printing or binding method affect the readers understanding of (as well as experience of) a text?

MC: I am interested in the physical experience each individual reader has with my books–and how much control I can have over this experience. Can a container affect the reader’s expectations? Do fold-out pages slow the pace at which a text is revealed? How do the physical considerations of paper, texture, structure affect the overall concept of a book?

Q: What is the relationship of the process and the product?

MC: My process involves designing the book pages while at the press. The overall concept is roughly worked out beforehand, and I do carefully plan the first layer of printing, but I prefer to add elements in reaction to each new layer while at the press. In this way I remain fully engaged in the process, and I avoid feeling as if I am just following orders. It is my hope that the sense of discovery I experience while printing a book will be conveyed to the reader.

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?

MC: Since I primarily print my own images and text, the selection process is more of a creative, or internal one. Sometimes I begin with an overall concept for a book, based on words not yet formed into a poem. And other times I begin with a process, image, or structure that I would like to work with and develop the book from there.

Q: Does poetry provide particular opportunities /challenges for interaction with artwork that might not be available if you were working with prose? How do you approach poetic projects differently? Does the poetic line function differently in the context of an image-rich book than the prose line or sentence?

MC: I primarily work with poetry in my books. There is something suggestive in a single line of poetry, printed within an image-rich page that I find more powerful than a prose line or paragraph. Somehow the poetic line seems to allow for more interaction within an image.


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