Saturday, September 10, 2005

"Composed on the Tongue" Letterpress Workshop

"Composed on the Tongue"
An Experimental Letterpress Printing Workshop

Jacqueline Gens will teach a six-week introductory letterpress printing workshop at Great River Arts Institute in Bellows Falls, Tuesday evenings 6:30-9:00 PM beginning October 4-November 8. Although open to everyone, the course will address the interests of writers, especially poets.

The class will explore various formats using metal or wood type for executing literary compositions into hand-printed broadsides, accordian books, postcards, chapbooks, or simple portfolios. We will also experiment with various writing
techniques suited to spontaneous composition with metal and wood type such as haiku, Tibetan doha, slogans, and cut-up methods. Printmakers can experiment with creating text to accompany their plates or to make direct impressions on prints and monotypes. At the conclusion of the six week program, participants should feel comfortable working on their own.

Letterpress printing, the primary printing technology for over 500 years, while no longer used in commercial printing, today is widely appreciated as an elegant method for creating handmade books and fine arts editions.

The aim of this class is to cultivate a lively exploration of letterpress techniques. No artistic or literary background is
necessary. Open to begininers and advanced alike.

Great Rivers Arts Institute's printshop includes a Vandercook Universal I, a large selection of metal type and ornaments, some wood type and all necessary tools for setting and printing metal type.

Cost for the program including materials fees: $200
Limited to 6 people. To register, please contact the Great River Arts at 802.463.3330
Contact me for the next scheduled workshop at

Jacqueline Gens has an MFA in poetry from New England College. She has
studied letterpress printing at the Book Arts Center in New York,
The Great River Arts Institute in Walpole, NH and at the Wisconsin
Center for Book and Paper Arts over the past decade.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Meditation on New Orleans and the Aftermath of Katrina

A few years ago I visited New Orleans for the annual AWP Conference. Hosted by a young gay couple living near the canal, I saw a great deal of the city that so captivated me; I was ready to move there in a heartbeat. Since then, New Orleans has entered my poems and stimulated me to reimagine my place in that great port. Driving aimlessly through its neighborhoods back in March 2002, I keenly felt the energy of its bold citizenry and the intense drala of the elements converging at the mouth of the Mississippi with a peculiar sense of recognition. Somewhere in my mindstream, New Orleans was once home. That much I am certain of.

The aftermath of Katrina fully discloses the beauty and terror of that city. Ever a charnel ground of life and death played out in full force for centuries, New Orleans will rise again in all its vivid display. Today, its suffering marks a transition in the American psyche where the citizens have truly toppled the doublespeak of politicians, the elements reared their monstrous heads in roiling outrage over environmental destruction and the world stopped a few seconds to contemplate the reality of life and death played out moment by moment.

We will never be the same but New Orleans will remain a timeless place, a rare flower of racial and cultural mingling celebrating the best and worst of humanity as free as the wild parrots who once graced that great city. My heart goes out to you people of New Orleans, brothers and sisters forever...

Jacqueline Gens