For those of you who are disheartened by news of the poor economy, the demise of books, the decline of publishing and the all-around death of the arts…I offer good news. Some among us are not only imaging a different world, they’re making it happen. I’m speaking now of Architrave Press, an independent literary press specializing in poetry. I had the good fortune earlier this week of attending the launch of Architrave’s first edition at the wonderful Tavern of Fine Arts in midtown St. Louis. (More about that in a moment).
Architrave Press is the work of Jennifer Tappenden, a graduate student in the Creative Writing program at the University of Missouri—St. Louis (UMSL). Although her day job deals in the world of computers and data, she is first and foremost a writer who wants to share her love of poetry with the world.
As Tappenden explains on the Press website, she founded Architrave Press to offer a new kind of periodical literature: poems printed as individual pages that allow readers to curate their own collection in the same way that music lovers create playlists.
It’s an approach that has the potential to place poems in the midst of everyday life: tacked onto a bulletin board, mailed as a postcard to a friend, utilized as a bookmark, or whatever one’s imagination allows. The poems in the first edition are whimsical and serious and thought provoking. But they’re beautiful as objects too. The poems are printed on 5 ½” x 8″ archival card stock using an antique Vandercook letterpress (from those great folks at All Along Press in St. Louis). It’s the old way of doing things that—while labor intensive—makes all a difference. (I confess I took special delight in running my fingers over the lines and feeling the paper raised by the metal type.)
And the launch party at the Tavern of Fine Arts? It was packed with a lively mix of people who—whether in their 20s or 70s—came to support the Press. A few poets featured in the first collection read from work that was by turns moving, thought-provoking and made the audience laugh out loud. All in all, it was a celebration of vision and work…of respect for the written word and its possibilities—culminating in beautiful presentation.
Which brings me to Tavern of Fine Arts. It’s a find. The tavern— located at 313 Belt Ave., in DeBaliviere Place—consists of two lovely rooms and (my favorite) a shelf of used books for browsing. The Tavern offers seasonal small plates and classic cocktails. I also learned that co-owners Mathew Daniels and Aaron Johnson are both musicians who offer a venue for live classical chamber music from area musicians. (A chamber quartet was on tap for the next night.)
So do your part to support the arts! Order a copy of Edition One from Architrave Press (http://architravepress.com).
Then, stop by Tavern of Fine Arts for a glass of wine and a slice of their delicious flourless chocolate cake. Believe me, you’ll see the world differently if you do.