Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Notes on old new little presses part four
& parts one, two, three, five, six, seven, eight, nine

There was already an air of poetic recognition about The Arthur Shilling Press before Harry Godwin began his imprint in 2009. Almost forty years before, in an earlier incarnation, the present writer had drawn this characterized image for his first comic book. And just as serendipitous, the present writer's father's real forename was 'Arthur'and first primary class teacher at age five a very real 'Miss Shilling'.

In two years the press has swiftly moved from initial London homebaked chapbook, desk top printer, basic stationery paper stock feel; to that of Devon-based little press. Chapbooks commodified as collectables with designated first editions and other limited special editions. Further limited by numbering and author-signings in some instances. Unconventional folding, collation, cover-in-relation-to-content size, and proposed future use of techniques such as woodcut suggests The Arthur Shilling Press is very much part of an old new little press phenomenon.

Godwin, poet and bookwork artist himself, is also founder and publisher of Cleaves international poetry, a journal with bibliographic series ISSN catalogue archive - experimenting with both electronic screen and conventional perfect-bound print-on-demand artzine formats.

Retrofit 'arfur shilling logo (above) with English music hall "half a sixpence, what a picture what a photograph" association appears to have been superseded by typographic and/or print-kit stamped 'a' (space) (stop) (space) 's'.

In the age of the internet UK small presses don't wish to play to solely domestic audiences at local bookfairs or litfests. Post-Brit special Chicago Review generation of poets have achieved wider recognition within an international, expanded European, Anglo/American axis. Old new little presses fill the bill with letter-pressed modernist dissent.

Arguably, there is also suggestion of postmodernist play with pre-electronic mechanical reproduction. Thinking of 'gentleman-amateur' Critical Documents, or 'calendar man' Punch Press.

From its online shop Damn the Caesars/Punch's variegated editions employ what looks like Linotype/Monotype setting on selected paper types, some with added wraps. Using pre-electronic printing methods and complementary styles of advertising availability (or non-availability). Initial impression is one of post-modern commodified hawking. Ordered Punch Press's HAX-Crot to test delivery and own reader response.

At the moment Punch's
concretised press seems as if it's zooming out of the Class Consciousness print-shop chapter in EP Thompson's The Making of the English Working Class and zooming into some uncertain poetic future presence.

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