Poetic postcards to share, a book about a bookmaker and a call to re-read Frederick Douglass

Poetic postcards

It is a special pleasure, partly because of its increasing rarity, to open the letterbox and find there an envelope addressed to you, not a bill or request or profession, but something made with care and attention. That is what the Vermont-based poet Katherine Gibbel offers with her new ‘Send Me Press’. Each month she prints a letterpress poem by a different poet using the presses of the Book Arts Workshop at Dartmouth College and mails them in sets of two. “Distance and love is long isn’t it / Distance and love is longing,” writes Alyssa Moore in the most recent edition, the poem paired with an image of a figure climbing to a crescent moon. “Lean and breathe and falter / As if there’s no handhold / So old: / Cold salty hot hand,” writes Liam O’Brien in “4 am Chicken Song.” Gibbel has also printed poems by Danilo Machado and Tracy Fuad. They are the size of a 4×6 postcard, and there are two in each envelope because “poems are conversations,” Gibbel writes, proposing to keep one for yourself and send the other to spread the joy, to bring the pleasure of something carefully selected and beautifully made for someone else. Each set of two is $4 and a six-month subscription is $20. For more information, visit sendme.press.

art of the book

Born in 1880, WA Dwiggins was a book designer, type designer, puppet maker, illustrator, sculptor, printmaker, and aviator, among other talents and pursuits, living most of his life in Hingham, Massachusetts. In 2017, writer and book designer Bruce Kennett used Kickstarter to fund a biography of Dwiggins. While researching the Boston Public Library, buried deep in its archives, he found a folder containing a series of stories about an imaginary place called Athalinthia, with more than 100 paintings accompanying the stories. The book was never published, although Dwiggins tried. Now, nearly a century later, Kennett is working to bring Athalinthia’s stories to the world. “Dwiggins was fascinated by human nature,” Kennett writes. “He also loved to describe exotic places, buildings, costumes, cultures and rituals. These stories gave him the opportunity to write about all aspects of the human condition: love, pride, envy, whimsy, pageantry, curiosity, duplicity, adversity, celebration and adventure.” While Kennett was working on his biography, he promised himself to make this book for Dwiggins. A Kickstarter campaign is in the works, with varying levels of commitment in the hopes of getting this diverse, whimsical, one-of-a-kind work published. The details of the production show a loving and expert approach to both Dwiggins and book making, including the endpapers, which are a reproduction of the murals Dwiggins painted at his home in Hingham. For more information, visit brucekennett.com.

reading Douglass

“What, for the American slave, is your Fourth of July?” asked Frederick Douglass in a United States 76th Anniversary address on July 5, 1852. “I answer: a day which, more than any other day of the year, reveals to him the gross injustice and cruelty of which he is constantly the victim.” Mass Humanities has hosted a series of lectures and discussions across the state centered on Douglass’ speech. The goal is to open up the conversation “about race, rights and our responsibilities to the past and to each other.” Interviews will take place June 26 in Brockton at the Frederick Douglass Neighborhood Association and at the Natick Historical Society; on June 30 at Essential Partners in Cambridge; the Somerville Museum; and NAACP in Worcester; on July 1 on Boston Common; on July 2 at the Beverly Historical Society; Historic Northampton; and the Marion Art Center; and with a number of meetings and discussions taking place on July 3-5. For more information and a complete program, visit masshumanities.org.

Get out

Elsewhereby Alexis Schaitkin (Celadon)

Invisible thingsby Matt Johnson (A world)

Rogues: True Stories of Scammers, Assassins, Rebels and Outlawsby Patrick Radden Keefe (double day)

Choice of the week

Arwen Severance at the Gloucester bookshop recommends “The Murmur of Bees” by Sofía Segovia, translated from Spanish by Simon Bruni (Amazon Crossing): “Set during the Mexican Revolution and the 1918 flu outbreak, the book follows a mysterious boy who sees visions of things to come and is followed by a swarm of bees and his adoptive family in their small village.As the boy grows up, he uses his gifts to protect his family and village from threats, both human and worldly.”

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