I’ve reached an age when anything accomplished invites the pleasingly macabre thought that it might be the last, and it is with something of this feeling I publish my new book.
The methods and the tools would have been recognisable to Gutenberg and Caxton. Slugs and leading, furniture and quoins, composing sticks, a small hand-cranked platen press for proofs, a big motor-driven one (ker-plunk, ker-plunk) for print runs.
I have been corresponding with Katia Kelly, the blogger in Brooklyn who uncovered Paul Manafort’s fiddle in Carroll Gardens. Not about that; rather about the fate of a church building at 297–299 Carroll Street.
It begins with a joke. The Yiddish phrase ‘Ikh hob fargessen’—I forgot!—uttered in panic to an immigration official, turns the hapless Isaac Reznikoff into Ichabod Ferguson.
Bindweed in the hedge, / Nasturtium on the leaf pile, / Owl glides on soft wing, / Am I—I ask a stranger— / On the way for The Ostrich?
The rock-hound’s use of the word Indian, rather than Mexican, opens fertile ground. A different idea of territory, of legitimacy, of history, of boundary, of intersecting identities. Who then the interloper? Who the immigrant? The undocumented?