Saturday, July 16, 2011
iowa city book festival
Braed and I went to the Iowa City Book Festival today. The supposed heat wave was surprisingly unoppressive as we wandered around the various tents set up in Gibson Square. We were sort of unimpressed with the over-all atmosphere and booth content, until we found one in particular. There we had a great chat with Matthew Klane, who we know through Kendra Greene: they both headed up the University of Iowa's Anthology reading series this last year which we attended fairly regularly. We found out today that Matthew has his own press, flim forum press, which prints young writers (not in terms of young in age but in terms of published works: young=nothing or very few published works). As we chatted with him at his booth Braeden picked up what he thought was just a stack of paper but was in fact a small book Matthew letterpressed and bound himself. The front cover is just plain white, but the inside end pages are beautiful paintings (well, prints of a painting) by Chelsea Finch that peak out ever so slightly as the cover pops up. The book, entitled Isle of Wight/Israel, is a collection of poems letterpressed by Matthew and double pamphlet stitched by he and his wife. It is a beautiful book and Matthew said we were the first to touch it all day: we were so enamored with it that we had to buy it. (He even threw in one of the press's books, A Sing Economy, for free!)
As we chatted with Matthew it came up that I work in the University library doing restoration work. He asked me how it was, emotionally, doing that work. It was a question I had never gotten before and caught me a little off guard. I started saying something about the work itself, how it's a lot of mud scraping and flattening and separating, then paused and said, "But it's pretty amazing to see these books that are so dirty and falling apart and once you clean off the pages and slap a new cover on sometimes you can't even tell that they were flood damaged at all." Matthew said, "So the work you're doing is heroic. You're rescuing these books." It was honestly an adjective I'd never before thought about to describe what I do 9:30 am to 2 pm, Monday through Friday. Tedious, smelly, frustrating, dirty, mundane, endless, messy...but, heroic? I like that. It makes working for barely more than minimum wage just a little bit more bearable.
The Zine Machine, a vending machine in the library re-purposed to sell zines. I'd told Braeden about it but he had never seen it, so we stopped by today. We got some little zines for free (that's what the price was labeled at) and some science-themed ones for a buck. They were great! And they scratched at my already itchy, zine-desiring self. I have wanted to make a zine for years and years, ever since my punk rock days back in high school. I actually made one with some of my friends my freshman year of college, but our audience was only ourselves. But I want to make one that we could put in the zine machine. I got excited. We stopped at Blick on the way home to get some rubber to carve into stamps (I recently purchased a book about making your own rubber stamps) and I felt like wonderful things were about to be created.
However, as soon as we got home the malaise that has been plaguing me for-what-seems-like-ever set in and I was paralyzed by both indecision and lack of motivation. To clarify, by lack of motivation I mean literally, a lack of ability to motate myself. I want to be better than I am. I want to draw better, to write better, to sew better, to bind better, to visualize the end product better, to finish projects better and I know the only way to get better is to do, make, create! but when it comes down to it I just can't seem to get myself up off the couch. It's becoming an all-encompassing, ever present issue in my life.