Recently, my friends Chloe and Pete moved to Gainesville, Florida. Chloe had been offered a place in a highly respected MFA programme. On their way to the US they spent a few weeks in Mexico, and Chloe sent me this book of Mayan love charms, which are like short poems. The book was made by Taller Lenateros, a publishing collective founded by Ámbar Past in 1975 and run by contemporary Mayan artists (Past translated the charms from Tzotzil to English). The collective has created the first books to be written, illustrated, printed, bound (in paper of their own making) by Mayan people in over 400 years. It is such a beautiful book.
At WORD Christchurch, I had a few conversations about books as art objects. I think books will always be relevant and bought and loved, but as any bookseller will tell you, the industry is changing. It made me think about how books, as cultural objects, have changed over time from the first rare and painstakingly created parchment and paper books, to the proliferation of books with the printing press, and now ebooks. I wonder what’s next. Mostly I’m thinking about poetry (in part because I’m a poet, but also because I buy a lot of poetry), which – I think – doesn’t do well in ebook form. Maybe I’m just old-school; I like my poetry on paper. It did make me think about how much I enjoy chapbooks, or the limited edition books produced by Sarah Maxey, or just poetry books that care about design.