Poems in print

A Verse Miscellany : Printed by Several Hands has come out from the printing press in the Bibliography Room of the Bodleian Library a while ago. It happened in the winter of 2007 to be precise. This volume is a limited print run. Only 20 numbered copies were issued. At a time when publishing is so effortless due to amazing software and ever more complex and versatile computers, a small group of us (the 'several hands') took a few very tentative steps trying to figure out the process of printing by using movable type. Enormously difficult, time consuming and skillful work.

Holding the book at the end of this journey proved to be quite unlike anything I was used to. By comparison, finished products issued via computer aided design are in so many ways more striking and subtle. Yet this rather primitive, lightweight (in more than one sense) volume has one unique quality. It is tangible at every stage. You hold the letters. And the gaps between them. You sweat over them. First trying to put them in the right place. Them forcing the imprint onto the paper. Waiting for the ink to get dry. Following this, there is the toil of deconstructing the text. Putting the letters back where they came from. All up and ready to start afresh. Bursting with the power of a new text. Inert, unassuming and limited to start with, like atoms, they are the building blocks, expressing an infinite variety of possibilities, holding the key to what we are at our most sophisticated best. The light within made visible.