The Salvage Press, 2016
Designed and printed by Jamie Murphy, with assistance from Michael Simpson and Jordan Huysmans, at Distillers Press, National College of Art and Design, Dublin.
Published in an edition of 90 standard and 10 deluxe copies.
I said in an earlier entry that I would need to get more printing from The Salvage Press – the Dublin-based publishing imprint of Jamie Murphy – and also more of Gerard Smyth’s poetry. Well, both aims have been addressed with the purchase of this exceptionally handsome special edition of poetry from Smyth, illustrated with a drawing by Brian Maguire, recreated with three magnesium plates.
Smyth is a poet whose work I have only recently happened upon (with his previous collection for Salvage Press, We Like it Here Beside The River), but I have since become very taken with his writing.
Written to mark the centennial year of the 1916 Easter Rising, this powerful and sobering collection sees Smyth predominantly reflective on his subject, giving the reader much pause for thought on the events and aftermath of those six terrible days in Irish socio-political history where a large number lost their lives, including a great many innocents. This suite of ten poems certainly led me to read up on what actually happened during and after the uprising.
The design of the book is excellent, as is the presswork, with a simple and clean Caslon setting to allow the text to breathe and speak freely. The whole project is tied together with the apt use of red; from the titles of the poems and the thread used for the Japanese stab-sewing to the inspired use of sheets of red Zerkall Ingres paper enclosed within each French-folded page. All go towards reflecting – as the printer put it – the undercurrent of violent tension in the poems. And then there is the paper used for these deluxe copies, which is a real aesthetic high point of this publication. They have been printed on a special making of 115gsm handmade wove from Griffen Mill that’s a paper connoisseur’s dream and takes a perfect impression from the type. This small Irish paper mill is renowned for making some of the finest papers available anywhere and I really need more items on my shelves printed on their stocks.
A curious feature of this deluxe edition is that it has no real cover, as such, for the one it has is made using exactly the same French-folded paper as the text pages. This is not necessarily a plus or minus point, just an unusual one. It certainly looks handsome enough. What the edition has instead is a red solander box to keep it nice and pristine.
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