A (Quick) Read of Kryss’ ‘Print Shop’

‘Print Shop’; a poem by Tom Kryss (4 pages, Bottle of Smoke Press)

‘Print Shop’ is a (very) small, elegantly produced chapbook that simultaneously eulogizes, mourns and celebrates the printed word, and does so in a neat little package.

This chapbook is a vehicle for Kryss’ obit on the slow demise of a family print shop, and with its passing, much of that family’s legacy. The bulk of the low-rumbling, very prosey poem is a description of how the mechanics of the press were at the core of the rhythm of the family’s existence: “…life flowed/both ways between kitchen and shop”, Kryss writes. He notes, with practical sentiment, how the “words flung at warm steel were constant,/recognizable, from generation to generation, and never,/right up to the end, changed.”

But things did change. The poem reflects, in low-key but densely-packed description, what disappeared from the business and the family when the shop lost its main job producing a local newspaper and was reduced to printing “invitations and waybills.”

There’s not much more to the text of the poem, but the whole package makes a fine point. The chapbook – produced in a limited edition of 76 copies in letterpress printed text, hand bound, and with a lino block cover – gives off the feeling of something produced by “warm steel” rather than just coded and posted. The act of placing so much value in, and putting so much work into, a single piece of verse in this day/age is a confirmation of the value of craft over the ephemera of the digital – at least to the dedicated. Swimming in the ether may expose you to a greater potential audience but – this cottage industry of micropresses seems to cry – dry land offers a certain solid permanence.

(And, for a nice piece like this, a prime spot on the bookshelf.)


Find this, and some longer works at: http://www.bospress.net


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