The Art (and Love) of Books (B+A Bulletin #226)

The Art (and Love) of Books (B+A Bulletin #226)

B+A Breaking

Bulletin crew! Take a gander at the London studio’s bookshelf! *heart eyes big heart eyes* Gotta say, us Portlanders might be a wee bit jealous…

Going to take to the tone of the beauty and talk a good lot about books today.

Let’s open-up Bulletin #226.

B+A Babble

Last week, Problem Solver (and former teacher) Mo attended a conference hosted by the Oregon Writing Project and facilitated by NYT best selling author, Matt de la Peña. It was held at the historic McMenamins Kennedy School in NE Portland, and was a deluge of emotions as Mo embraced teachers (friends) she hadn’t seen in months. As Mo corrected each of them, letting them know she was no longer teaching, their eyes widened and latched on like she was the last life boat. This year has been really hard for me, they confided. The kids are challenging, the work load is absurd, and administration is making it worse. Listening to their stories, Mo was feeling those familiar notes of melancholy, knowing the dis-ease of teacher burnout has infected nearly all parts of the invaluable profession. Teacher.

But still, she felt herself inspired by their resilience. The passion these educators have to bring emotional and raw literature into the classroom. Together the workshop read the children’s book The Adventures of Beekle : The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. It’s a tale of isolation and loneliness, taking life into your own hands, and having faith that connection is still possible. Greatest part? Matt de la Peña wittingly asked the crowd, is it necessary that a child understand all of the hidden messages and themes of this story?They roared an emphatic No—that would be an absurd ask. Then he refrained, why do we think it’s more important to understand something consciously than to understand something subconsciously?

*mic drop*

B+A Brilliance

Ever wanted to self-publish your memoir? Your zine you made with your kids one summer? Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to screen-print? Or hangout with other lovers of paper and letter-press?

Well. Allow me to introduce you to Portland’s Independent Publishing Resource Center. The IPRC began 21 years ago by the literary DIY community (ahem… B+A?) of Portland and the help of writer/publisher/bookseller/activist (and now City Commissioner) Chloe Eudaly and printmaker Rebecca Gilbert, along with the local literary community, activists, and artists.

The IPRC’s mission: provide affordable access to space, tools, and resources for creating independently published media and artwork, and to build community and identity through the creation of written and visual art.

As a member of the IPRC (the basic membership is only $10/month) you have access to all the equipment: Letterpress, Screen Printer, Risograph, Perfect Binder, MAC desktop systems, and other various supplies! You can sign up for classes and workshops where you learn how to use the more advanced equipment, and drop-in to the vast range of activities going on every day: zine making, button making, letter-writing, stab-stitch book-making, the list goes on and on….

The IPRC is committed to providing a place where makers and thinkers can share ideas and work together to foster the expansive and diverse creative community. As public spaces like libraries and public universities are being under-funded and closed, the IPRC has stepped in to fill the need of low-cost access to space, materials, and equipment, giving artists the support to create quality and innovative work that otherwise would not exist.

What would a place like this look like in your city?

B+A (more) Brilliance

Currently on at the Portland Art Museum is “The Art of Reading: American Publishing Posters of the 1890s”. Publishers were the first to adopt this particular kind of advertising, hiring young artists, students and print-makers to shout about their periodicals via colorful and keenly designed posters. Considered a “poster renaissance,” the medium was initially modeled after French theater posters, but quickly came to American-ness and was subject to a creative flavor that animated daily life and celebrated “the new American city”.

The poster mania was short lived, dying out at the turn of the century. Why? The posters were popular than the publications! And publishers saw this as a failure of the medium. Consumers sought to buy the posters as artwork, caring less for what they advertised, wanting after the thing to hang to the wall of their new domesticity. Lucky for us, collectors took notice of the student-led artistic movement.

Go check out the exhibition, on view at Portland Art Museum until June, 2020.

B+A (more) Books

Unless you’re a fan of The L word or a student of Greek literature and Philosophy, you may not have heard of Anne Carson. Her bio: “Anne Carson was born in Canada and teaches ancient Greek for a living.” She’s worshipped for her collection of poetry and theory; Eros the Bitter Sweet and Autobiography of Red are two books you should look into if you’re trying to step into that spring body of flowers and honey bees, or just have the artistic desire to ache.

Though today I want to talk about her book, Nox. It’s not traditional by any means, coming in it’s own shadow-box and extending out like a heavy-weight accordion you have to commit to mining if you ever want to reach its back body. It’s part poetry, part lesson in Latin, and part collage of family photos and letters, all coming together as an epitaph for her older brother. It defies what you believe a book can be or do. It cares deeply for its subject by an intimate engagement with form, making something ephemeral and personal, graspable to strangers. Reading Nox is alchemy. I never leave it the same as I entered. It’s a rare find, so if you come across, take it as a sign. It’ll be one of those books you can turn to for inspiration, medicinal melancholy, and dote over with the other book-lovers in your life. If I could only ever give one a book reco, it would be Nox.

B+A Bye…

Well dear ones, that’s all I have to share today. I hope this celebration of literature stirs whatever Creativity means to you today. And that you never fear sharing your unique gifts with your community. We respect your courage. Only you know what the world looks like to you, and we want to hear all about it.

Happy reading, or whatever.

Robi and Team B+A