Printer-Poet, Poet-Printer Session II: in conversation with Bodoni type face for a.rawlings’s TREE HYMN

Printer, you choose a type face that embodies a history of manipulation.

Chiseled strokes with unpredictable thickness and unprecedented thinness – a new form to upstage counterform and cause the printer to wonder if such a type face enabled the counterform to shed shadow on the form of the letter or if the counterform was overshadowed by the form of the letter; no, surely they were attempting to balance one another to keep each other in check, making the letter quite visible for what it was, for what was forgotten in other faces. And it is face that is ever the midday sun. A face that is truth in all its impurity. You see this even when you cannot see the face’s attempt to balance the sublime with the rational. Here, a type face stands in the glaring wind of white space, and the counter is less severe because the strokes have been lowered so that they sit as true horizons, and space might push against it less so, and just peer over into what lies around the letter or beyond, within the interior.

Printer, you have chosen a type face that thickens the ring of the vowelword so much so that it is as if the v-cut in the paper is inverted and beats forth nearly off the page. Raised by ink, the vowelword, when read aloud, is a drawn out panting, an animal stopped dead in its tracks, breathing for its life. A type face which is the yolk of the serif— pierced and pulled into vibrant strokes of life. A type face so worn that serifs were dissolved, ears have gone missing, and lobes have been broken.

From this, new parts of the letter evolved, or shadows were pulled from the cut. The duration or stretch of each interspace is a chisel cutting, the length of a thin stem or a thick oblique. You wondered what it was that caused the paper not to meet the type closely enough, what caused the type not to meet the paper closely enough, why the kiss did not reach every part of every letter.  Was it years of kerning, of planing, of paper softening the crispness of the lead’s edges, reshaping the letter back to its primal vowelage?

You begin to wonder about the history of this particular set of type; what paper has contributed to its wear and how you are passing this history down to the page you now print upon. Here, a broadside holds a history of manipulated type face, speaking through a history of worn type, speaking through lead seeping through lead seeping into paper sinking into page, pooling into (the) serifs, stretching into strokes, becoming letterparts, becoming letters, becoming words, becoming sounds.

First, you wonder how this broadside speaks to a history of manipulation. Then, you see how this broadside contributes to a history of manipulation.