29 November 2011

What You Will

After approximately two years of waiting, Aaron Cohick (and his Newlights Press) has finally released Kyle Schlesinger's What You Will. It will be immediately clear to readers why it took so long: Aaron wasn't being lazy; he just decided to make the most difficult book he could imagine!

When poet/printer Andrew Rippeon and myself used to make books together in Buffalo, we would joke about how our ideas were often impossible to execute, mostly because we'd think big first before thinking through the consequences of our decisions! Aaron (more than any printer I know, actually) is a conceptual printer. He takes on projects that are often incredibly difficult to execute, and he does so by taking the long road (even if he could simulate similar effects using shotcuts!).

What You Will was printed entirely on the letterpress, and, to make matters worse (for Aaron, that is!), most pages are printed a number of times to create an overlay effect. In total, Aaron completed 202 print runs on this book, which means, given an edition of 100 books, that he pulled the handle 20,200 times to complete this book object! To give some perspective for nonprinters, the most complicated Atticus/Finch cover I ever printed required approximately 5 runs; I don't think I've ever attempted more than that for a given book.

Above and beyond the sheer obsessiveness of this project, however, Aaron's design manages to retain a grace and simplicity that never seems overdesigned (and this is true of all Newlights projects, actually). What You Will is immaculately executed, and the book totally compliments Kyle's compact, tightly wound poems.

Here's Kyle's poem "I'm Always Being" as a sample:

I'm Always Being
Split in half rip-
Ripe film patterns the
Conspiracy normalcy
How to get to bottom

Looking into smeiotics
Really like syntactics
It makes the least sense
I need a job but dont really

Want one I need inspiration
But my stomach keeps this
And why there and how my
Brain says shut up I say

To my brain and the
Whirlwind continues to
Get frozen I care but I
Cant be sure

Sorry for the lack of
Punctuation right now
I do not care Ifeel good
For 7 minutes today

[And, because I can't help myself, here's "Just a Thought" on the recto:]

Just a Thought

Whatever ideas
I used to have
About a counter
Culture got shot
A long time ago
Like in the sixties
Or something

[Okay, one more little one because I hear Kyle's son Alasdair in the last few lines:]
There's Nothing More

To it
Than that

The sky is
Broken and

It's making
A mess

I'm sort of shocked that Aaron is only selling these for 20 bucks (some of his broadsides are going for upwards of $300), so if you have any interest in book arts or if you'd like to see what Kyle's been up to since Hello Helicopter, you need this. Pick it up here, and stay for a while to read through Aaron's meticulous documentation of the printing process.


  1. Wow. Looks to be amazing work! So fired up for it. Thx for the preview Michael!

  2. Seriously tedious and amazing craftsmanship. Aaron wow's me all the time.