There is something special about a finely crafted handmade book. My shelves are home to a number of them and some of the best are from PressBoardPress. Beautifully rendered with letterpress covers and stitched bindings, they are a great representation of an art form more bibliophiles should have in their collection.
PressBoardPress is the creation of Lackawanna native Patrick Riedy, and through its publications Riedy has been instrumental in bringing well-deserved exposure to the work of local poets.
He received his BA in English at the University at Buffalo, where he also had the opportunity to work at the Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo for two years.
His schooling however hasn't ended there as he explains, "I recently finished my MA in English from Syracuse University and in the upcoming fall I will be starting the MFA program in Literary Arts at Brown University."
I asked him about the start of the press, to which he replied:
"I started the press in 2011 with Letson Williams and Michael Koh after we and a few other undergraduates at UB started a journal called 'We, the notorious pronouns'. PressBoardPress started by experimenting with print on demand before developing a website and finally Michael and Peter went on with other projects while I learned how to letterpress and make small chapbooks. I think we all saw the press as a means to explore what we wanted to achieve in our own poetry, but I also think it was a way to be a part of the active poetry community in Buffalo."
I like to think the press has evolved with me as an artist and reader
As active as that community is and considering the number of poets looking to be published, one wonders how PressBoardPress goes about it.
"PressBoardPress does not accept unsolicited manuscripts." Riedy goes on to say, "I publish poets I admire or referrals from poets I’ve published in the past. In this way, I feel like I can manage the press with my school and teaching responsibilities. I like to think the press has evolved with me as an artist and reader as well as providing a space for discourse with the poets I admire and am lucky to publish."
All of the volumes put out by PressBoardPress are personally hand crafted by Riedy. After designing and letter pressing the covers he will digitally offset print the insides. Finally, he folds everything and sews each chapbook. Riedy remarks: "It’s a long, crazy process to some people, but I enjoy it. If anything goes wrong I can only blame myself!"
Most writers, when asked, can name the spark that started them on their particular path. For Riedy it was an early interest in poetry.
Now, if I hadn’t grown up in Buffalo, if I hadn’t been courageous enough to share my poems, if I hadn’t had some teachers that encouraged me, would I be here?
"In high school I began writing after we read some of poems, I particularly remember Adrienne Rich’s “Diving into the Wreck” and Wallace Stevens’ “The Emperor of Ice Cream”. I think there was an assignment, something like “write a ‘Where I’m From’ poem”. It was then I caught the bug—both the reading and the writing in relation to each other. A year later I mustered the courage to share some of the poems I was writing with another English teacher. He mentioned how they reminded him of Robert Creeley’s poetry, so I went out some time after that and picked up Creeley’s Selected Poems. Now, if I hadn’t grown up in Buffalo, if I hadn’t been courageous enough to share my poems, if I hadn’t had some teachers that encouraged me, would I be here? Who knows exactly? But I can say that early on it felt authentic to how I relate to others and to myself, it was a kind of interaction with the world I wanted and maybe needed."
Here are a couple of Patrick’s poems:
THE LARGER SHADOW
Innocence for breakfast
Along the way Your eyes turn sky
Toward cluttered grey
This hill you’ve known
The shameful door
The silence of a window--
The emptiness of incandescence
Upon an off-white wall
A blue tree
All omens Signs of things
THE FACE AS MOON
round as it will ever be
bright as only the moon is able
leaving so much hidden at night,
so much inside already hides
and the fact of the matter is that this too
is shaded, this also leaves one stranded
with nothing more to say other than
regret and disappointment
forever beginning, setting out
to say something insignificant
or, at the very least
of little use
others may not give it half a thought
but look at the moon or
in the mirror at your face
and say “I see what you did there”
now it somehow seems more
clear, maybe that is
only on the face of it
since words seem to be of no use
as this recollection hums bright
in the sky, going around the earth
just as the moon—round
and round one’s head
so that there is something left,
from the house to the crunch of snow underfoot to the store to the cold lights alone too long, to the way I want to call to say all the things never said to moticos that remind me to destroy it all, to send off to the moon everything under the moon
"Poetry is the only means of relating to myself," Riedy says "to others and to the larger nature of experience in a way that feels authentic. And I suppose it’s also because poetry allows me to desire the authentic and still be skeptical about these questions of authenticity and sincerity. It’s in the poems, too—“Very well then I contradict myself; (I am large, I contain multitudes)."
Here is a short list of a few of the poets he has published:
Most recently PressBoardPress has published Nava Fader’s Prynne Poems and Kate Colby’s Engine Light. Some other poets include Michael Basinski, Edric Mesmer, Janet Kaplan, Joseph Massey, Kayla Rizzo, and Tyler Cain Lacy.
Visit https://pressboardpress.com to see learn more of what he and PressBoardPress has to offer.
Contributor Focus: "News, Reviews & Interviews"