The other evening, John had the honour of speaking at the Alcuin Society’s Annual General Meeting in Vancouver. His topic: “The Printing of Poetry, the Poetry of Printing”. In 1980, he went with a friend to Prince George in a rented van and brought home an ancient Chandler and Price platen press which became the basis of our High Ground Press. John’s idea was to print poetry broadsheets in limited editions and for 30 years he’s done this in the belief that “poems warrant singular lives in the light, no less contemplative (and as compelling) as their lives in books, voice or imagination.”
It was interesting for me to watch as he showed images of our print-shop,
our presses (for the C&P was joined by a small Adana from England a few summers ago),
and a couple of the broadsheets he’s printed. This one was part of our second series of broadsheets and the image isn’t particularly crisp but the poem, by Jan Zwicky, is beautiful and I love the design:
And this broadsheet is from our Companions Series, for which we asked Canadian poets to respond to a poem in the canon. Sue Wheeler chose a poem by Don McKay (who had a poem in an earlier series so the sense of companionship extends into our printing history as well as in this series…):
In Mnemonic: A Book of Trees, I write about the history of printing and type in an chapter about my grandfather’s origins in Bukovina, and I say this about John: “My husband labours in our print-shop over type, chases, ornaments, and the unwieldy nature of ink. There are far more convenient ways to transfer texts to paper, this suits his meditative nature, and mine too, for I love to think of the slow work of poetry finding its way to a broadsheet. Paper impressed with ink, like a kiss, a tattoo.”
3 thoughts on “High Ground Press”
Are your broadsheets available to purchase?
Teresa- I am on linked In and I saw John had looked me up on the site. I gave been trying to reach him for several years but didn’t know how.
I read your book Based on living at your home I. The Sechelt- and love your writing- it’s gorgeous.
John called me just before he wrote The Four Quartets- don’t know how he found me, I lived close to the smallest town possible in rattlesnakeland wher I was very busy putting I. Hundreds of trees to change the balance of rattlesnakes to hawks and deer etc as the volunteer barley- dry farmed for the second World War-was so high the hawks couldn’t see the rattlesnakes… Anyhow I’d sure like to contact him -and see how he is- I am so glad he married so VERY well, he deserved it… He spoke so excitedly about his little girl Angela. Jenny was also my friend and I don’t know how she is either- I was a little concerned when in his writing he mentioned he’d lost so many people, I worried about Jenny. Reading his love for you and his children, and the Sechelt I was so very glad for him… Do you know in the one photo of you I think on your book but maybe his Quartets(?) you reminded me so much of his mum !!! Anyhow I hope you can get him to contact me! I hope to meet you someday …. Sincerely, Dulce Shepherd
Ducle, how lovely to find this message. I’m passing along your email address to John and I know he will write to you. You are such an important part of his past and he often speaks of you. Thank you for making contact. More soon!