Archive for January, 2014

Granite & Cypress

January 24, 2014

By Reader Services Assistant, David Eng

When I was shown my office during my first day of employment at the Clark Library there was a framed broadside hanging on the wall announcing the establishment of William Everson’s Equinox Press in 1947, which also featured a block print by his partner Mary Fabilli.

Equinox

I considered this an auspicious beginning having been an admirer of William Everson’s work as both a poet and a printer since I was a teenager after becoming enamored with the writers of the Bay Area literary renaissance of the 50’s and 60’s. I was excited to discover that we not only had a number of his works in our fine press collection but also 31 boxes of his correspondence, working drafts, proofs and various ephemera.

Raised on a farm in the San Joaquin Valley Everson became skilled in the craft of printing while at a Civilian Public Service camp in Oregon as conscientious objector during WWII. Encountering the work of California poet Robinson Jeffers confirmed Everson’s own poetic convictions. His epic and dramatic verses about the California landscape resonated deeply with Everson: “It was an intellectual awakening and religious conversion in one . . . Jeffers showed me God.” Everson converted to Catholicism in 1951, entering the Dominican order as a monk under the name of Brother Antoninus and becoming known in the news as “the Beat Friar.” After almost 20 years Everson eventually left the monastic order and became poet-in-residence at UC Santa Cruz where he started Lime Kiln Press.

GandCslipcasefront

It was Lime Kiln Press that published the work of art which has become my favorite piece in the Clark Library’s holdings: a collection of poems entitled Granite and Cypress by Robinson Jeffers. The standing wooden slipcase is made from Monterey Cypress and features a square window of polished granite from Jeffers’ very own stoneyard, from which he constructed his Tor House and Hawk Tower in Big Sur. The book itself is exquisitely printed as an oblong folio bound with open-laced deerskin and featuring woodcuts by William Prochnow.

GandCslipcaseback

When I want to show students and patrons a rare and singular specimen of fine binding and printing, this is primary work I’m most eager to display.

GandCTitlePage

Advertisements

Letters in the Landacre Archive

January 15, 2014

By Library Assistant, Nina Mamikunian

Over the Fall quarter I had the pleasure of working in the Clark’s Paul Landacre archive. Landacre, born in Columbus, Ohio in 1893, was a self-taught wood engraver and illustrator who was active in fine press printing in Los Angeles beginning in the 1930s until his death in 1963. He first showed his work in Jake Zeitlin’s bookshop, and over the years illustrated books for Zeitlin’s Primavera Press and the Ward Ritchie Press. Landacre’s engravings are incredibly detailed and his prints (he printed his work himself on a Washington hand-press) are stunning: dramatic and sultry, capturing both the tumult and serenity of the California landscape in stark black and white. Landacre’s skillful and patient hand is evident in each line.

My research focused on Landacre’s professional and artistic achievements but I couldn’t help but lose myself in some of more personal material contained in the archive. There was the lock of Margaret’s (his wife of nearly forty years) hair, the dance cards and track numbers from his college-athlete days, and scores of letters from friends from around the country. While not every letter related directly to my research questions, they helped immerse me in the Landacres’ world. One of my favorites came from Delmer Daves, writing from a hotel in Berlin. The text of the letter outlines a particularly visible watermark on the hotel stationery.

photo(1)

Other favorites include a series of letters from a friend serving in the Navy in the 1940s who grew more and more exasperated with Landacre’s lack of letters. (And Landacre did procrastinate with his correspondence. The majority of his own letters start with some variation of “sorry I haven’t written to you yet”!)

photo(2)

Dear “friend”, Do you have a broken arm? Or don’t you have a stamp?

photo(3)

Dear Mr. Landacre, You make me mad. For godsakes, can’t you write?           

Also striking were letters that reflected some of the turmoil of the times, such as this letter expressing support for Sueo and Mary Serisawa, good friends to the Landacres. Sueo, a painter, was a Japanese immigrant, and after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Serisawas left California for a time for fear of internment.  In the letter, Landacre says “It is my hope that Mr. and Mrs. Serisawa be accorded courtesy and consideration under all circumstances. They deserve it.”

photo(4)


I wish to assert emphatically that Sueo and Mary Serisawa are two of the finest people it has ever been my good fortune to know.

There are many more treasures in the Landacre archive. And for more info on Landacre, check out Clog posts, here and here!

2013 in review

January 2, 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 17,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.