16 April 2009

Don McKay and The Muskwa Assemblage

Don McKay is one of Canada’s most celebrated poets. Last year, Gaspereau Press released a short book of his poetry called The Muskwa Assemblage, a reflection on a visit he made to the Muskwa-Kechika wilderness of northern British Columbia.

Making the book was an adventure as well, as it was the first time that we have produced a trade publication that was printed letterpress, inside and out. Gary also produced a handmade paper for the book jacket here as the press – also a first. I had a good chuckle last fall when I had to explain to the patient but perplexed editor from The Walrus that, no, we couldn’t provide him with a ‘cover image’ to run with their review of the book because we hadn’t made the paper yet and didn’t quite know what the jackets would look like. In fact, I said, we still had to build some of the papermaking equipment. It seems that’s not an excuse they hear every day.

Finally finished, the book won an Alcuin award for book design last week. Tra-la!

from The Muskwa Assemblage
Don McKay

Cladonia borealis: aka
Red pyxie-cup lichen, aka little stoplights
clustered on a stump. Pause here,
hiker. Consider such symbioses
as these creatures so ingeniously
accomplish in their fungal-algal
love-and-death affair.
     And spare another moment
for the first frail
single-celled companionships
cultured in earth’s ancient amniotic
oceans. Think
of the mother of the
mother of the mother-to-the-nth
of thought.

Copyright © Don McKay, 2008

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