Tag Archives: poetry

A visit from poet Aaron McNally










After Aaron’s piece on his trip to Caveworks Press for a day of letterpress printing was published on the North American Review’s blog, (which was a total surprise to me) I thought I would share some pictures from the day here.

Here is the lovely, insightful, and introspective essay: http://northamericanreview.wordpress.com/2014/12/09/publishing-with-a-letterpress-printer-by-aaron-mcnally/

Some background: Caveworks Press published Out of the Blue by Aaron McNally in 2007. Though officially, we had a book launch in Winter 2008 at Bought Again Books in Cedar Falls. Click here for more info on this book.


The spiderwebs image is a glue collograph plate fixed to a multi-purpose type-high plate.

While I finished printing the silver background in this tiny edition of bookmarks, Aaron was writing a revision to the text.

Aaron setting type using my small amount of Engravers Old English, a blackletter style.

Setting up the text and copper cut in the Vandercook press after the background image has been printed.

The "type matter" locked up in the bed of the press using "furniture."

The final design: bookmarks for Halloween

Caveworks Press featured in the North American Review: “NAR Staffers Out in the World”


the North American Review features Caveworks Press

The article as it appears in the Summer 2012 issue in
the North American Review

Back when I was attending a poetry class at the University of  Northern Iowa

—amid the concentration and depth of a single class that fit with my work schedule, amid the mornings spent, bent to my drawing table, crafting language, I became a reader at the North American Review. It was an experience that I will never forget. We readers lounged in the office absorbing earnest poetry submissions, noting our reactions, inner ears attuned to rhythms in word patterns, sound sense, the overall “Mono no aware”, a Japanese term that refers to the essential meaning of an artwork, beyond the superficial, housed in the moment of discovery. I was looking for such moments in the poetry I was reading.

At poetry review meetings, armed with our copies of poems that had been culled from submissions, a stack at least an inch thick, we discussed which poems we liked and why. We got to know each other’s likes and dislikes. I became an unsung champion for poets who had written a poem I thought was outstanding and should be published. I am proud to say, because of me, that poem was published, though the poet will never know what I had done. My duty was to support excellence.

Now as a publisher of small press poetry titles, the same fire burns. It is my pleasure to get to know the poets I work with, to support them more fully by designing books myself, printing them, arranging readings, and being so closely involved.

I am working on another poet’s book plan presently, and I hope to be posting some details in the near future, as well as a Kickstarter campaign.

THROWAWAY, a new artist’s book completed

Throwaway, an artist's book by Julie Russell-Steuart

January 2013

I’m pleased to announce the completion the first in an edition of 20 for the current BookArtObject Edition #4, one of one hundred titles taken from an artist’s book by Sarah Bodman. Below is the colophon for Throwaway:


 BookArtObject Edition Four, Group Five, http://bookartobject.blogspot.com

Title #99 of 100 taken from An Exercise for Kurt Johannessen (2010), by permission of the author, Sarah Bodman.

Throwaway (2013) by Julie Russell-Steuart explores ways in which our culture/economy tosses aside things.
With permission from http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com, two people’s stories have been adapted poetically.  “Throwaway” materials like cereal boxes and string were used to make pressure prints on hand-painted DuPont Tyvek, a spun polyester material that is 100% recyclable and safe for landfills. The format is an accordion style booklet that opens up on the other side to a map style folding.The text is letterpress printed with hand-set types in English Caslon Oldstyle 37, Century Bold, Della Robbia, and Style Script. The box enclosure was constructed with the design and engineering skills of David Steuart, and is made from boards covered in hand-painted Tyvek.

“Human Acquisitions” by Julie Russell-Steuart

Letterpress printed broadside of poem “Human Acquisitions” by Julie Russell-Steuart.

Human Acquisitions BroadsideOriginally printed for the 2010 APA poster bundle, with 55  prints reserved for sale. Handset type in gray and linoleum cuts in two colors on gray Stonehenge paper. There are about 45 left.

$45.00 Human Acquisitions Broadside

The subject matter is a sci-fi inspired, somewhat fantastic account of growing up with hearing loss (based on my experience). It is the story of a boy and a girl, brother and sister, who find the world of reading, particularly sci-fi, much more attractive than the real world, who escape into fantasy as a means of coping with the social alienation of hearing loss. A bit of a surprise ending, too.

It was chosen in 2002 as the winner of the Roberta S. Tamares Sci-Fi
award at the University of Northern Iowa, while I was taking a
single poetry class with Vince Gotera and volunteering at the North
American Review.

It was featured in a Atelier 6000 Broadside Exhibition at Atelier 6000 in November of 2010.

Crazy Eddy on the Judgment Day by Mary Swander

Crazy Eddy on the Judgment Day

by Mary Swander

2004, Edition of 125, Sold Out

Swander writes the roiling river; her language moves with elemental force, unstoppable. Upturned, near familiar phrases momentarily surface like a favorite article of clothing and are submerged again, often with comic results. Humorous stories within stories emerge, like “Samson of Wisconsin,” dwarf Crazy Eddy’s giant nemesis, and how he defeated him. Swander’s rural midwest roots cling tight to her stories and capture their idiosyncratic characters with a close relative’s unflinching eye.

Cover of Crazy Eddy on the Judgement Day

Colophon: Hand set in Garamond and Engraver’s Shaded type and printed on Mohawk Superfine. Bound in Fraser covers with Thai Mango endpapers. Binding assisted by Margaret Whiting and Julie McLaughlin. Printed in an edition of 125, and illustrated with linoleum cuts by Julie Russell-Steuart in one of the coldest summers on record.

Out of the Blue by Aaron James McNally

Out of the Blue by Aaron McNallyOut of the Blue, poetry by Aaron James McNally, 2007, 32 pages, letterpress edition of 250.

$20.00 Out of the Blue

Aaron McNally’s poetry is driven by rhythm and sound, but guided by emotion. As readers, we are challenged to pinpoint the complexities of emotional expression each poem contains. Simultaneously, a strong cerebral bent works an angle on meaning that uses metaphor, imagery, juxtaposition, poetic form, and an inner narrative voice. Where we end up rests on our ability to take a journey, propelled along by rhythm, absorbing the emotional atmosphere, our destination up for grabs as McNally sets our heads spinning, then gently, with careful consciousness, sets us down.

Out of the Blue (open) by Aaron McNallyColophon: “Illustration: Julie Russell-Steuart. Composition type set by the printer on an antique Intertype, thanks to Jim Daggs at Ackley Publishing. Typefaces: Palatino, Baskerville. Printed on the Vandercook UNI III at Caveworks Press in the year Cassandra was two. Paper: Mohawk, Neehah cover, and Thai endpapers. Hand-bound by the printer, poet, and Jim Russell. No. ___ of 250.”

cluse up of intertype casting

A line of poetry from Out of the Blue is cast on the Intertype






About the poet:

Aaron James McNally is a master’s candidate in English at the University of Northern Iowa. His collaborative poetry with Friedrich Kerksieck has appeared in several magazines and as two chapbooks.  He has edited and published several local chapbooks and small publications and served as the design editor for The Cream City Review. His reviews of poetry have appeared in Rain Taxi. Out of the Blue is his first book.