Thanks to Your Printer at Mission and Cesar Chavez and the folding-and-stapling efforts of my fabulous interns, the new tiny book from Burn This Press is done. It’s my translation of a poem called “Mala piel”, Bad skin, and is by Chilean poet Carmen Berenguer.
A few other poems of hers that I translated years ago were supposed to appear in Five Fingers Review, but after many delays, the journal folded before being able to print that issue. Some of them will be coming out soon in the next issue of Specs – including the awesome poem about the Chilean flag with difficult typography that makes the poem look like the flag. It’s a complicatedly gendered, visceral stance, or experience, of national identity under oppression.
I had to reprint the book and its covers, as I had a page order error in the first batch, and couldn’t stand the light green covers, and the first printer put the rough side of the cover facing inwards instead of putting the textured roughness on the outside. So I went back to Kelly Paper, a fantastic paper store, and got a supply of interesting cover stock for the next few books, going with a warm brown “Kraft” cardstock and paper with tiny random flecks.
Part of the point of my tiny book design was setting it up so I can print copies anytime at home from my laser printer. But once I realized I needed at least 250 copies, it seemed best to go with a copy shop, bringing my own paper.
So anyway, I went to pick up my fabulous Intern, Ellie, from high school and had to chase her down with text messages. She demanded to be taken to the drugstore to meet her “husband” who was going to mock-propose to her with Ring-Pops but I counter-proposed that we go immediately to my cafe haunt, The Grind, get some coffee and start working on assembling the books, and the Ring-Pop Bearer could meet us there. I had all my prints and supplies in two cardboard boxes — aside from the paper, I have a little kit with saddle stapler, bone folder, extra staples, tape, stickers, return address labels, pens, and scissors. I especially love bone folders because they feel so slippery and solid and strong, and it’s neat to think it’s a special tool. My mistake was in not having more than one bone folder. I wore out my thumbnail doing creases! Ellie’s friend then turned up with the ringpops and a half gallon of Rocky Road ice cream, wearing a Hello Kitty hat with built-in pigtails.
After he proposed, I informed him that he was hired. We ate the ice cream and folded books for the next couple of hours and had a great time gossiping. I told them they might not want to read the poem because it was “inappropriate” which is what the kids say when they want to describe the generation over them being embarrassing.
It was an especially nice way for a book to come into the world. Thanks very much to Ellie and Ubaldo for the help and entertainment!