Mike first acquired his press in 2009, and while researching forgotten material to bring back to print, he found Paris A Poem, which became the first book project for Pegana Press.
The history of this work is fascinating. Written by Hope Mirrlees in 1919 who is best known for her book Lud-In-The-Mist, the poem has been cited as a lost masterpiece of Modernism, pivotal and influential to those poets of fame to follow. Mirrlees becomes our eyes and ears for a journey through the wonders of the metropolis.
It was first published at the Hogarth Press by Leonard & Virginia Woolf, and typeset to exact specifications as directed by Hope Mirrlees. Movement becomes personified by typographic layout, guiding us through the city. The gardens of Tuileries are laid out on the page to represent their exact spacings; Lilies of the valley become one on the page.
Portions of Paris A Poem were later suppressed by Mirrlees herself, and the originals have now become virtually unobtainable, locked away in museums and private libraries. After reading the poem and its history, it seemed important to bring this work back to publication in as close to the original typography as possible.
Working from a scan of the original, the spacing and typography were laboriously reproduced by hand for the Pegana Press edition by Mike. This process took about a year working in the middle of the night and on his days off, while also employed full time at a local business in town.
In 2010 Pegana Press finished printing Paris A Poem by Hope Mirrlees. Fifty copies were sent to Ars Obscura in Seattle to be bound by master binder Joel Radcliffe, who provided us with the beautiful blue cloth binding with gold lettering and inset cover image designed for this edition by artist Brian Dunning.
But what became of the unbound copies? Recently Mike decided to offer them in an alternate binding with newly printed paper covers in gray French Canson heavy stock paper with the original cover image printed in reflex blue ink.
I am hand sewing each with white linen thread using a Coptic stitch. Then adding a touch of glue to add durability to the stitching.
You may find both editions of Paris A Poem by Hope Mirrlees, published by Pegana Press on our website. We invite you to take a look.
Now I'll leave you with a quote from Paris A Poem.
The Seine, old egotist, meanders imperturbably to-
wards the sea,
Ruminating on weeds and rain...
If through his sluggish watery sleep come dreams
They are the blue ghosts of king-fishers.