Printer-Poet, Poet-Printer Session 1: in conversation with a.rawlings's TREE HYMN

Printer, you cannot recall where you began now. You stand at the feet of the final piece and find yourself still in the midst of a galaxial hymn. You wait for the tree to sing itself onto the paper, the paper you had yet to meet in thickness and softness for fingertips. You wait for the paper to meet the edge of type, knowing that wood cuts away at iron over time. You wait for the paper you had yet to meet in color, the choices you would make between varying degrees of the color natural, hoping the ink colors you would eventually choose would not offend, hoping the paper’s color will not offend the ink, hoping the intertwixted fibers inside the paper will speak honestly and heartily with the forthcoming words at which point the paper would hold still in its migration while the language moved on.

Printer, you can recall where you began now. You began in the serifed tone of one hue of a letter that was then an unknown word which held the future of becoming a question. This is how you began in the work because this is how you began with writing. And, this is how you began in the work because this is how you began with printing. And, what printer could blame you? A new world of responsibility with the word was in your meek, printerly hands; you did right to stay and question along the stroke of the serif; you knew that every letter, and so, every question you had about printing was existing somewhere along the stroke’s edge. You are right to stay there still.

You did not wrestle with ink color or the paper or any ornaments; you instead struggled with deepstepping into a type face. To not call attention to the type. The reader must not be distracted by the type, but the type must enhance how the reader could experience the language. You consider a type face for its formality, tradition— for its elegance, simplicity, versatility. Every type face is created out of imperfection, each one succeeding the next in modernity. To choose a font that highlights imperfection, that celebrates its own subtle decadence—that asks the printer to work with, within, and eventually, without limitations.

In the poem, you voice sounds in and out of focus because of capitalization, because of spacing, because of breath, because of the vibration of a vowel into a vowel-word.  The sound is wanting to become word or then the word is wanting to be seen purely as sound. This relationship reverberates and ripples toward a surface (perhaps this is the collective sound of the surface of paper as wood, wood as tree, tree as forest) but it is not in competition with itself. Printer, the font you choose nurtures this balance; it must be comfortable in its manipulated seriffed form so that it may carry the transferable sound that transforms a word as it is sung through.