This Sunday at Shelf Life: Double the books, double the fun

At Free First Thursday this week the poet and translator Alejandro de Acosta read from Gertrude Stein’s The Geographical History of America or The Relation of Human Nature to the Human Mind. Meanwhile, members of Wave Books checked the sewn bindings on the books they’ve been making for their upcoming Poetry Festival in November. I sat nearby, listening to the rhythm of Gertrude Stein’s words float over the soft tapping of bone folders on book spines.

During their residency at the Henry, Wave Books is hosting a series of workshops/readings in the model of a Cuban cigar factory, where workers are read to by a ‘reader’ as they make cigars by hand. The tradition of the reader on the factory floor has existed in Cuba since the 1860s; often the names of favorite books are bestowed on brands of cigars, like ‘Montecristos’ after The Count of Monte Cristo or ‘Romeo y Julieta’ after Romeo and Juliet.

It was a beautiful sight: the making of a book and the reading of another happening simultaneously. It has never occurred to me before to collapse the two ends of the bookmaking process into one space, but now I can’t imagine why it’s not always done this way. It almost feels like weaving a spell, one book christening the launch of another.

This Sunday, August 7th, Wave Books is back with a tutorial on bookmaking and Alejandro de Acosta returns to do more reading as visitors make books. You’ll learn how to make single-signature sewn bindings while being serenaded with literature and poetry. The event starts at 11 am, when the museum opens, and goes till 1 pm.

But wait! Hang out until 2 pm and you’ll get to see more of the physical poetry of the book world. Sandra Kroupa, Book Arts and Rare Book Curator at University of Washington Libraries’ Special Collections, returns for a second Book Arts: Performance Exhibition. As you’ll notice from the second rotation of Artists’ Books now on display — featuring a vintage doll’s bed, a game, and books morphed into sculpture — bookmaking is rarely so simple in the world of Book Arts. For this Performance Exhibition Sandra brings with her more rare and exciting examples from the UW Libraries’ Book Arts Collection to illuminate our understanding of what books can be.

If you find yourself in need of refreshment between the Wave workshop/reading and Sandra’s presentation, make your way to Molly’s Café located on the mezzanine level of the Henry. Molly’s features fresh and healthy salads and sandwiches; not to mention the staff makes a mean cup of Stumptown coffee. (The Café will be open until 2 pm on Sunday.)

Join us! Sunday promises to be an amazing double-header with Wave Books and Sandra Kroupa, two pillars of the Seattle book community.



Wave Books: Bookmaking tutorial and reading with poet and translator Alejandro de Acosta
11 am – 1 pm

Alejandro de Acosta attended Hampshire College and received his Ph.D. in Philosophy, Interpretation, and Culture from SUNY-Binghamton. Recent publications include a translation (with Joshua Beckman) of Carlos Oquendo de Amat’s Five Meters of Poems, and numerous contributions to anarchist anthologies and websites. He currently lives in Austin, Texas.

Book Arts: Performance Exhibitions with Sandra Kroupa
2pm – 3 pm

Sandra Kroupa is the legendary Book Arts and Rare Book curator for University of Washington Libraries’ Special Collections. The University’s Collection contains over 21,000 pieces, both historical and modern, encompassing all aspects of the physical book: bookbinding, typography, papermaking, letterpress and offset printing, illustration, book design, paper decoration, calligraphy and artist’s books. A mission of the University’s Book Arts Collection is to assist people in defining terms, not to formulate authoritative definitions — the Collection provides all possible definitions of the word book.

Shelf Life is the Henry’s summer ode to BOOKS and READING. From July 1 – October 16th, the Henry has invited book lovers from various fields — independent publishers, librarians, poets, writers, designers, and, most importantly, readers — to share with us what they do and why they love to do it. For a complete list of Shelf Life related programming, please visit this page.

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