Archive for the ‘Ugly Duckling Presse’ Category

Metaphor Taking Shape: Exhibition Checklist

March 31, 2008

An approximate checklist for the exhibitions Metaphor Taking Shape: Poetry, Art, and the Book and The Publisher’s Roundtable: Book Artists in Dialogue has been posted on this site: Exhibitions. A PDF file of the checklist is also available: Checklist (PDF). This checklist does not reflect all additions and subtractions made during installation.

The exhibitions Metaphor Taking Shape: Poetry, Art, and the Book and The Publisher’s Roundtable: Book Artists in Dialogue consider the ways poetry and book arts interact, their intersections and connections, their shared context and their potentially conflicting functions. Though many poets and book artists uphold the book as an almost sacred cultural object, their approaches and their interpretations of the term and concept “book” may differ vastly. The books in Metaphor Taking Shape and The Publisher’s Roundtable demonstrate some of the variety of ways poets, artists, and publishers have explored the book, its intimacy, portability, and physicality, and the ways they have asserted its position as a multifaceted historical and contemporary method of communication, as well as its signification as an evolving cultural object. The works in the exhibitions consider, too, the book’s history and potential as a verbal and visual work of art, the possibilities the format represents for uniting poetry and the visual arts. Both exhibitions explore questions of textuality, verbal and visual metaphor making, tensions between language and image, and the physicality of texts and books.

In part, Metaphor Taking Shape: Poetry, Art, and the Book is arranged chronologically, showing some of the many ways poetry and art have been united in books since the turn of the last century. The exhibition also draws attention to important themes that have influenced poets, book artist, and publishers over time. The Publisher’s Roundtable: Book Artists in Dialogue features the work of six contemporary small presses that have worked variously with poetry and the visual arts, combing the two art forms in both traditional and innovative ways. The exhibition includes mission statements from each press, describing their goals, challenges, and accomplishments.

Both exhibitions highlight poetry and artists’ books from the Yale Collection of American Literature and the Arts of the Book Collection and draw from the Modern Books and Manuscripts Collection at Beinecke Library and the Yale University Art Gallery, showing the depth and richness of Yale University’s collections in this area. Including both celebrated works by influential publishers, artists, and writers and less well known examples made by individuals and groups that have not yet been well studied, the exhibitions do not attempt to represent a comprehensive view of poetry, art, and the book. Instead, the companion exhibitions present and celebrate the variety and vitality, the traditions and trends, the history and the potential futures of the vast and growing body of work uniting art and poetry in book works.

Nancy Kuhl ( and Jae Jennifer Rossman (, Exhibition Curators

Metaphor Taking Shape: Poetry, Art, and the Book and The Publisher’s Roundtable: Book Artists in Dialogue. Companion exhibitions on view at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and the Arts of the Book Collection at Sterling Memorial Library, January-March 2008



March 19, 2008

Many thanks to our conference speakers for their smart, thought provoking, and inspiring presentations and discussions; thanks, too, to all conference attendees for making Metaphor Taking Shape: Poetry, Art, and the Book a big success.

In support of ongoing conversation, a PDF list of Conference Registrants is now available. The text of the Publishers’ Roundtable preliminary conversation is linked here: Publishers’ Roundtable Blog Text. Information about the exhibition Metaphor Taking Shape is available here: Exhibition Highlights.

Publishers’ Roundtable: Getting Started

February 14, 2008

To begin the preliminary on line component of The Publishers’ Roundtable, publishers were invited to engage in an e-mail conversation, considering the following list of questions as well as any addition issues and concerns raised by members of the group.

This preliminary dialogue is not intended to exhaust any topic or preempt the conference Roundtable in any way. Instead, it will provide an opportunity to shape to the conference conversation by allowing Roundtable Publishers as well as conference attendees to begin posing questions, voicing opinions, and mapping some of the primary subjects of concern in advance of the conference. The conversation will continue in person at the Metaphor Taking Shape: Poetry, Art, and the Book conference on March 13 and 14, 2008.

Excerpts from the electronic dialog will be posted periodically in the weeks leading up the conference.

Publishers’ Roundtable: Some Preliminary Questions

*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? How does the printing or binding method affect the reader’s understanding of (as well as experience of) a text? What is the relationship of the process and the product?

*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.)?

*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?

*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)?

*What are the book’s strengths and limitations as a format for uniting poetry and art? How does your press manage the limitations and maximize the strengths?

*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?

*What is the primary motivation for your poetry-art presswork? In other words, why do you publish poetry and art books?

*What, if any, role does collaboration play in your press’s mission, work, publications, etc.?

*What makes a successful union of poetry and art in a book?