A few weeks back Books and Vines highlighted a new publication from Foolscap Press called The Saint John’s Fragment – Against the Odds with a poem written by Anglo Welsh poet, critic and publisher David Annwn and calligraphy by Thomas Ingmire. Mr. Ingmire subsequently made me aware of another recent collaboration he and Mr. Annwn completed, which is the focus of this article. The book is titled Going Up to Sun Terrace: A Tribute to Ezra Pound and Li Po’s Shangyangtai.
Just as The Saint John’s Fragment was inspired by two unique books (editions of one, see here for an example), each with a poem by Mr. Annwn, Going Up to Sun Terrace was first created as a unique book and was then followed by the edition reviewed here in a limitation of 50. Mr. Ingmire, whose projects frequently include unique books, told me:
I generally create unique books with the idea always in mind that I might create a small edition…not really a facsimile, but something that logically could spring from the original.
The edition reviewed here is splendid. It is extremely eye-catching, remarkably distinct and interesting aesthetically and intellectually. The interweaving of Li Po and Ezra Pound, including Po’s Going up to Sun Terrace, Pound’s translation of Po’s The River Merchant’s Wife, along with Mr. Annan’s poem reflecting on Pound’s influence on his own poetry, including references to Li Po and his Sun Terrace, make for a thought-provoking read.
Concerning the three poets that make up the content of the book, Mr. Ingmire told me:
I found the project particularly interesting because of the challenge to create a design that pulled the work of the three poets into a unified whole.
His interest, which he then transformed into a design, certainly resulted in a nice creation. The paper is simply awesome (to use a technical term!). It is Thai Kozo plus Pulp mix, made in Kochi, Japan. Mr. Ingmire tells me this Niyodo line of papers are specially made for the finest digital art printing (he did the printing for this edition himself). He also tells me:
In the case of this book, I felt like the digital Japanese papers could give me characteristics similar to what I had achieved in the unique book. In the original book my recreation of the Li Po calligraphy was done on a Japanese paper (the same paper as I have used on the edition covers).
Concerning the edition of 50 design, other than the reduction in size and the addition of a revised colophon page, it is the same as the unique original. No printing fonts were used; the writing is all from original calligraphy. Mr. Annwn’s poem for the unique edition has only been mechanically reduced in size for this edition. The Li Po calligraphic page is Mr. Ingmire’s re-creation, a drawing, of Po’s original work (which is the only extant piece of Li Po’s calligraphy known). For the edition book, it was mechanically reduced. The English translation of Li Po’s Sun Terrace poem, Pound’s The River Merchant’s Wife translation, and the colophon page all were re-written by hand at a slightly larger size and then reduced for the edition.
I was very interested in the process of how Mr. Ingmire created the cover. He explained:
I begin with a sheet of the Japanese paper that 12 x 19” in size. It is a persimmon stained paper that I have had for about 30 years. Working with Chinese sumi and and a large Japanese brush, I make abstract marks. I try mostly to create interesting white shapes with the black marks. The covers are then cut out of the larger sheets. I usually get 3 covers per sheet. I have scraps of original Japanese calligraphy that I found inside of an disassembled screen. I paste these onto my covers and then I add the small squares of 24K gold leaf.
To stick with my use of bookish technical terms, the result is one ‘cool’ cover! The look and feel really is something to behold. It gives one the sense of ‘swirling eddies’ (for those familiar with The River Merchant’s Wife) while also invoking, to me, a winding river reflecting the passage of time, also a theme from that same poem.
Lastly, I asked Mr. Ingmire what projects he has in store.
Mostly I am back to creating unique books…always with the idea of creating small editions. The most recent project that I have just begun involves work with 10 different poets including David Annwn. It is quite a diverse collection of poets; 5 from the UK, one from Canada, one from Tibet, and a few Bay Area poets. My interest in this project is in exploring the affinities between music, poetry, and calligraphy. It is a long project, probably spanning two years.
Sounds quite interesting, and I will keep Books and Vines readers informed of progress. In the meantime, I am not sure how many of the edition of 50 are left — though institutions usually gobble this type of work up pretty quickly. For those with interest, you can order a copy here or contact Thomas Ingmire here with questions. The cost of this book is $165.
About the Edition
- Original Poem by David Annwn
- Calligraphy by Thomas Ingmire
- Designed and Printed by Thomas Ingmire
- Thai Kozo + Pulp mix Japanese paper
- Digitally printed on an Epson printer
- No printing fonts were used; the writing is all from original calligraphy
- Bound by Akiho Sugiyama
- 18 pages, 5.25″ x 6.5″
- Limited to 50 copies, signed by Thomas Ingmire
Pictures of the Edition
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