Fine printing and binding has always been a sort of side-interest of mine. When I was attending the Iowa Writers' Workshop in the early 1970's, I took the opportunity to attend Harry Duncan's Typography course at the print lab there. Iowa at that time enjoyed the luxury of having two of America's finest letterpress printers--Duncan, and Kim ["K.K."] Merker--at the same time. Their presence during this period fostered not just the production of a series of fine letterpress editions [through Duncan's Cummington Press, and Merker's Windhover and Stone Wall Presses], but a setting for the appreciation and practice of hand-printing as an art form. I spent many nights laboring over my own book project at the lab, once inciting Harry's ire for not clearing the press "bed" before leaving late one night. A close friend of mine at that time was Al Buck, a local denizen of the fine printing scene, who later would print the first issue of my little poetry magazine L. The values of fine printing were instilled in me then, and that interest has in part driven my preoccupations in the antiquarian rare book trade, which I've been pursuing for the last 15 years, more or less full-time since 2001 when I retired from my government job of 27 years.
When Stanford finally published The Collected Poems of Larry Eigner, edited by me and Robert Grenier, the idea of having a limited fine bound set seemed a natural opportunity. Over the years, I've funded a number of projects for boxes, rebindings and so forth, either with Klaus Roetscher at the Pettingell Bindery in Berkeley, or with John Demerritt in Oakland. Through the generous support provided by Richard Eigner, Larry's surviving brother and Executor of the Eigner Literary Estate, we were able to create a limited set of 10 copies of the Stanford edition, hors commerce, for the Editors and Eigner family members. The limited has green leather spines, tan buckram cloth boards, and a sturdy cloth slipcase.
The critical reception for the Eigner Collected is in its earliest stages, but interest is building in the academic community, among graduate students and scholars who are now able to see, really, for the first time, the range and depth of Eigner's great mass of work--its quality and innovations. The Eigner Collected was a dream of mine born 35 years ago, now finally come to full fruition. I feel privileged to have had some small part in bringing it into being.
Check out my update/addendum on the announced probable takeover of Peet's Coffee Company by Starbuck's, on my previous post of March 17, 2011.