about this piece
paper, bookcloth, metal leaf, ink
A Pocket Book of Forms is a letterpress-printed, travel-sized guide to poetic forms-a reference to be used on the train, on adventures, or when a small book is all that’s needed. It is meant to be both aesthetically pleasing (to heighten the enjoyment of such adventures) and durable (to withstand repeated use). The text, written between 2009 and 2012, is set in Bembo and Twentieth Century, with hand-drawn headings, and printed on Legion Bamboo paper. The majority of the text is hand-set type; the introduction, headings, and schemas are printed from photopolymer plates. The covers are Canson Mi-Teintes, and the title is set in Chamfered Gothic Condensed. The book was printed and bound in 2013 and 2014 in two editions, standard and fancy. Both editions are pamphlet stitched, with rounded corners. The fancy edition (shown here) has orange covers, hot-pink title text overlaid with faux gold leaf, and hot-pink lokta endpapers. It includes a bookcloth slipcase for safekeeping.
I first conceived of this book when I was planning for a long train ride. I wanted to write as I traveled, and although I own many hefty volumes on poetic form, I didn’t know of any travel-sized reference on the subject. So I determined to create my own. I made many iterations (hand written, Xeroxed, revised, revised again), before finalizing the text, setting the type, and printing it on a Vandercook no. 4 proof press at Penland School of Crafts. I did additional work on the book at Asheville Bookworks. A Pocket Book of Forms, the first of several planned pocket guides, covers well-known forms-including the sonnet, ballad, rondeau, blues, and pantoum-and a few of the less-often-remembered French forms, as well as some stanzas. The standard edition is priced to help ensure that people interested in the book can access it; the fancy is, well, fancier. The book is made for working poets, students of the craft, and people who love small, precise works of reference.
Anna Lena Phillips is a poet, teacher, editor, and maker. She teaches in the creative writing department at UNC Wilmington and is editor of Ecotone, the literary magazine that seeks to reimagine place.