Poetry Month, Day 19*: Rebecca Gayle Howell Recommends Larkspur Press

April 19, 2013

I want to draw your attention to Larkspur Press of Monterey, Kentucky. Larkspur is a letterpress with an admirable ambition: to publish emerging and established writers in editions that can be described as both fine and affordable. The Larkspur catalog includes new works by writers like Wendell Berry, Bobbie Ann Mason and Michael Moran and each book is set and printed on a hand-fed Chandler and Price, many of them hand-bound, and all include commissioned illustrations. Classical broadsides are also available.

The master printer and founder, Gray Zeitz, is a man who stands at what feels like seven feet, with a white beard long enough to make any hipster covet. He moved to the artist commune of Monterey, KY in the 1970‘s with a press and some type given to him by his teacher, the historic printer Carolyn Hammer.  Since then he has stayed true to his original vision to be both publisher and printer; boutique printing did not interest him. Sometimes he had to raise tobacco or cattle to make ends meet, but for almost 40 years, Larkspur has printed new works of literature at prices competitive to mass market collections, in a process that can take up to two years to complete.

These days, despite rumors that ‘books are dying,’ Larkspur is making and selling more editions than ever. This is local literary economy at its best. Or, as one reviewer put it, ‘This is publishing on a human scale.’

Rebecca Gayle Howell

*Throughout Poetry Month 32 Poems will use this space to praise presses, journals, and readings series that bring poetry to us in a special way. Our hope is that we can point new fans in their direction and publicly thank editors and curators for their work. Check in with us again tomorrow for another poet’s recommendation.

Rebecca Gayle Howell’s awards include a poetry fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center and a Jules Chametzky Prize in Literary Translation. Library Journal chose Howell’s translation of Hagar Before the Occupation/Hagar After the Occupation (Alice James Books) as a 2011 best book of poetry. Hagar was also a finalist for the Best Translated Book Award (BTBA). In 2012 Howell received the CSU Poetry Center’s First Book Prize for Render/ An Apocalypse, selected and with a foreword by Nick Flynn.

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