31 July 2009

Letters from a Small Town: Letter A

Here in the Town of Kentville (TOK), when it comes to wayfinding and signage, we’ve got the usual dog’s breakfast of letters hanging around on our shops, posts and fences. Being somewhat fond of letters, I’ve started to document the local alphabet – the good and the bad – and am assembling them under the general title Letters from a Small Town. I’ll post some of the images here on the Gaspereau Press blog from time to time.

Before computers and vinyl cutters, stencils were a cheap, utilitarian way for the average citizen to make a pre-fab letter. The rough texture and deep colour of these plywood Town of Kentville signs greet me when I bike through the parking lot by Town Hall.

Even the stencil isn't idiot proof, as this sign with its backward Ns proves. If you zoom in at the bottom of the sign, you can see some renegade hand lettering which makes reference to the 'LIKER STOR'.

Like the LIKER STOR letters, most of my favorite local letterforms are one-off originals, made on the spot specifically for the function and context they serve. This sign hangs on the back of the local curling club, visible from the old railway line which is now a public walking trail. Why is it around the back? Was it replaced by a more 'sophisticated' modern sign with pre-fab letters? I'll have to walk around the building and find out next time I ride past on my bike.

This post was brought to you by the letter A.

– AS

14 July 2009

Gaspereau Press in the Wild West

Gaspereau Press authors are almost always out and about somewhere, but recently they've been making their presence particularly known in Saskatchewan.

The Saskatoon Public Library Board announced that Anne Simpson will be their 2009-2010 Writer in Residence. Anne will be spending the year in Saskatoon, splitting her time between her own writing and her work for the library. Anne usually calls Antigonish, Nova Scotia, home and that's where she set her recent collection of essays, The Marram Grass: Poetry & Otherness. For more information about Anne's residency, read about it at the Saskatoon Public Library's website.

Carmine Starnino was in Saskatoon last week for a reading at the local McNally Robinson. He read from his new collection of poetry, This Way Out. Photos of the evening by Jennifer Varkonyi are posted below.

Two Gaspereau Press authors will be participating Moosejaw's Festival of Words this weekend: John Terpstra and Thomas Wharton. You can find out about their readings on the festival schedule. Information about Thomas Wharton's The Logogryph is on our website, where you can also find information about John Terpstra's forthcoming title, Skin Boat: Acts of faith and other navigations.

09 July 2009

Alcuin Dinner in Toronto

We got a nice package in the mail this week from Stefan Rose, author of The House That Stands, a book which I designed for Thaddeus Holownia at Anchorage Press last year. It was one of the six books that I designed at Gaspereau Press that was recognized by the Alcuin Society in its annual Canadian book design competition. Stefan attended the Alcuin awards dinner at the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto a few weeks ago and was kind enough to gather up our certificates and mail them to us. Never one to neglect to offer of a free meal in lean times, I asked wood engraver and long-time collaborator Wesley Bates to attend the dinner in my place. His report, in part, follows:

“It was a great honour to be your stand-in last night. You and Gaspereau were the darlings of the event. I got to stand at the front and receive four awards in a row for you. More that any other press. Bravo! As for me, well, I was warmed to the core in the spotlight that was cast on Gaspereau. I met people that I hadn’t seen in years. The meal was lovely. I had never been in the Arts & Letters Club before and Don McLeod of the Devil’s Artisan journal gave me a tour of the building. I had a little acceptance speech worked out but they didn’t give anyone the mic so I just smiled and waved at everyone for you. – Wes”

You can find out more about Wesley Bates by visiting his web site or dropping in to his gallery on the main drag in Clifford, Ontario. You can also read about his experiences as a wood engraver in his recently published book In Black & White, which was one of the books which was recognized for its design at the Alcuin dinner.

You can find out more about the Alcuin society by visiting their web site.