Come the heart of wintertime, I start to think about the Grimsby Wayzgoose. Nestled at the base of the Niagara Escarpment, Grimsby is a lovely and historical town in southern Ontario – and has been host to an annual gathering of printers, bookbinders and book-artists for over 35 years. The Wayzgoose is always held on the last Saturday of April at the Grimsby Public Art Gallery and Library; it usually features about 100 exhibitors from both Canada and the US – and draws thousands of visitors.
The Wayzgoose is a joyous day of meeting friends (old and new), moments spent marveling over the beauty of their various works, and delighting in demonstrations of vintage equipment or traditional book making techniques. Whenever I’ve managed to attend, I leave with an armful of treasures – and cheeks that ache from smiling so much.
Perhaps the most valuable treasure one can take away from the Wayzgoose is a copy of the annual anthology, a beautifully bound edition of signatures by contributing artists. Each year the Wayzgoose organizers manage to wrangle contributors to submit 115 copies of their hand-worked signatures so that the Art Gallery can publish a lasting keepsake for each year. How they manage this feat is nothing short of miraculous.
While I’m not often able to submit a signature, there’s not a year that goes by that I don’t think about doing so. Occasionally, the planets align so that I can submit a signature – but more often, the mundane obligations of work and life get it the way. But this year…I’ve cleared the decks, squelched up my courage and I’ve jumped in!
I’ve chosen to print a text that has long been a favourite: a poem I memorized when I was a literature student, eons ago – and one that’s become even more meaningful to me over the years. It’s a superb example of a contemporary villanelle – a poetic form that is highly structured and restrained, and nearly impossible to get it right.
Dylan Thomas got it right. “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” is his plea to his ailing father. Everything about the poem is beautiful. It’s subdued alliteration, the contemplative reflection on the lives of men, the steady rhythmical cadence that culminates in a childlike cry — all resonates with me now, more than ever before.
The only glitch is that it’s still under copyright. While I dreaded the red tape I expected as I wrote to the publishing house that owned the copyright, I was thrilled with their prompt and cooperative response. Within a week I had secured copyright permission – and could get started on my project.
So it begins. I am not formally trained in book design – and for this reason, I spend many hours combing through my books on the subject, examining samples, measuring page layouts, and trying to understand that elusive “golden section” on the page that Bringhurst describes. To this day, I don’t quite understand his geometric formulae, but somehow I’ve managed to develop a layout that – I think – does credit to this text. And so, typesetting, proofing, dissing begins. And despite the dog hair that shows up on the rollers (aarrgh!!), I’m loving every moment of this.