It’s a specific pleasure, in part for its increasing rarity, to open the mailbox and find there an envelope addressed to you, not a bill or solicitation or appeal, but something made with thought and care. Such is what Vermont-based poet Katherine Gibbel offers with her new “Send Me Press.” Each month, she prints a letterpressed poem by a different poet using the presses at the Book Arts Workshop at Dartmouth College and mails them out in sets of two. “Distance and love is long isnt it / distance and love is longing,” writes Alyssa Moore in the most recent edition, the poem paired with an image of a figure climbing toward a crescent moon. “Lean and breathe and falter / as if no hold / so old: / cold salt hot little hand,” writes Liam O’Brien in “4 am Chicken Song.” Gibbel has also printed poems by danilo machado and Tracy Fuad. They’re postcard-size at 4×6, and two come in each envelope because “poems are conversations,” Gibbel writes, and suggests keeping one for yourself, and mailing the other off to spread the delight, to bring the pleasure of something carefully selected and beautifully made to 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
WA Dwiggins, born in 1880, was a book designer, typeface designer, marionette maker, illustrator, sculptor, printmaker, and kite flier, among other talents and pursuits, and lived most of his life in Hingham, Massachusetts. In 2017, writer and book designer Bruce Kennett used Kickstarter to fund a biography of Dwiggins. During his research at the Boston Public Library, buried deep in the archives, he found a folder that included a series of stories about an imaginary place called Athalinthia, with over 100 paintings accompanying the tales. The book was never published, though Dwiggins did try. Now Kennett, nearly a century later, is working to bring the Athalinthia stories to the world. “Dwiggins was fascinated by human nature,” writes Kennett. “He also loved to describe exotic places, buildings, costumes, cultures, and rituals. These stories gave him the chance to write about all aspects of the human condition: love, pride, envy, whimsy, pageantry, curiosity, duplicity, adversity, celebration, and adventure.” As Kennett worked on his biography, he made a promise to himself to make this book for Dwiggins. A Kickstarter campaign is in the works, with various tiers of commitment in the hopes of publishing this varied, whimsical, one-of-a-kind piece of work. The details of the production show a loving and knowledgeable approach both to Dwiggins and to book making, including the endpapers, which are a reproduction of the murals Dwiggins painted in his home in Hingham. For more information, visit brucekennett.com.
“What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?” asked Frederick Douglass on July 5, 1852, in an address on the 76th birthday of the United States. “I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelly to which he is the constant victim.” Mass Humanities has organized a series of readings and discussions across the state focusing on Douglass’s speech. The aim is to open conversation “about race, rights, and our responsibilities to the past and to each other.” Conversations will take place on 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 gatherings and discussions taking place on July 3-5. For more information and a complete schedule, visit masshumanities.org.
“Elsewhere” by Alexis Schaitkin (Celadon)
“InvisibleThings” by Mat Johnson (OneWorld)
“Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks” by Patrick Radden Keefe (Doubleday)
Pick of the week
Arwen Severance at the Bookstore of Gloucester recommends “The Murmur of Bees” by Sofía Segovia, translated from the Spanish by Simon Bruni (Amazon Crossing): “Set during the Mexican Revolution and the 1918 influenza outbreak, the book follows a mysterious boy who sees visions of what’s 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.”