1991: edition of 33 plus 7 APs
380 x 254 mm; 86 pp.
Printed by polychrome letterpress deploying hand-worked zinc plate, type-high nails and sandpaper. Set in Monotype Spartan, Stephenson Blake Bodoni and a variety of woodletter styles. Printed cover and slipcase.
While progressively exploiting a traditional format for the book page, worn out pieces of type turned on their side and made type-high, the metal plates used for images and the usually unseen nails used to fix them, I tried to marry our world order of waste with an aesthetic of decay and lost form. The texts include brief Biblical quotations and six of my poems about waste in some of its modern forms in Bodoni type, set out rigorously to contrast with textual echoes in woodletter within the dark margins where can be found the admonition 'want not, waste not'.
I took short phrases from each of the six poems and reversed their order in relation to those poems. I then placed the phrases in the dark margins of chosen pages (first done in 'In the Door stands a Jar'). So with poem number one sat a phrase from poem number six; with poem number two a phrase from five, and so on until poem six had a phrase from one. The idea was that from the beginning the hidden phrases would be predictive of poetics to come and, increasingly towards the end, the phrases would echo what had been read during the journey through the book. I do not know if this device works.
An arrangement of printing plates, drilled with holes and secured to their mounts by nails whose heads would not normally be high enough to print, was worked on in the bed of the press with a small modelmaker's drill to give almost calligraphic, negative marks when printed. This process was pursued through the progress of the book until the plates registered accelerated decay (another process first employed in 'EXECUTION'). An old problem for the judgemental has been that the negative, frightening, ugly and sinister can yet produce beauty. The final pages hint at this difficult truth and also at the page as a painter's format. From dung may roses grow.
At the beginning and at the end the aforementioned nails are set to a pattern and printed to suggest mechanisation and the dirt of flies, the spoor of Satan. Three thunderbolts, courtesy of Jove, increasingly resemble rockets, F16s, or stinging scorpions. 'Firedogs' was started during the First Gulf War.