The Breather
By Billy Collins
Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Red Hydra Press, 2008. Edition of 55.

117 x 11" single sheet. Painting printed using an Epson R2400 inkjet printer. Text letterpress printed in two colors. Edition of 55: 25 copies on Epson Velvet Matte Fine Art paper (11 x 17"); 30 copies on Somerset Enhanced (11.5 x 16.5").

Red Hydra Press: "This is a fresh poem broadside, with an evocative painting by Dana Moore, published by Red Hydra Press, 2008. While working on a book at Penland School of Crafts during the fall of 2007, letterpress printer Steve Miller saw some amazing oil paintings by North Carolina artist Dana Moore. One of them, two distant trees, stuck, so Miller called Billy Collins from the letterpress studio and described it as a metaphor for a kind of relationship. Based on this conversation Billy Collins sent the printer some new poems, and 'The Breather' was selected to partner with the painting."

Steve Miller: "The final piece is an experiment in two ways. First: to get the painting to print well on two different Epson printer-suitable papers was a challenge. The Epson R2400 inkjet printer is finicky, and the color printing was a real challenge. Thanks to the help of The University of Alabama Art professor Brian Evans I was able to print the painting.

"Second: in consultation with John Horn at his Shooting Star Press in Arkansas, I decided to bite the bullet and for the first time, instead of making fun of it, to use Linotype for Billy's poem. Linotype is a type-casting technology that was often employed by newspapers to cast a line at a time in the form of a single slug, rather than the individual pieces of type that are more often used now by letterpress printers. Linotype seemed not to be a very flexible medium, but in the hands of the right person it can fairly sing on the page. In his collection of Linotype matrixes, John showed me 14-point Weiss, and then he cast some lines. I decided to go with it and am pleased with the printed results. John cast the poem text and I used hand-set foundry Weiss for the titling.

"So, on the sheets with Dana Moore's printed painting the poem was printed in reflex blue-infused black ink on the large, automated Vandercook proof press. This was the first time I ever printed with a press that automatically rolled the cylinder, and it was truly fun."