Books in Print

The following books are available from the Press with free shipping and any applicable tax waived. They can also be ordered from Amazon.com.

When Rembrandt von Rijin went bankrupt in 1656 he had to sell his large collection of antiquities along with a great many of his drawings and paintings. Prize-winning poet Charles Wyatt has used the long list of Rembrandt’s possessions—a carboy helmet, one head of Christ by Rembrandt, a Turkish powder flask, 2 pillows, etc.—as a window into the world of one of the greatest painters who ever lived. These poems show us Rembrandt, the ordinary, disorganized man, with a “nose always there in the middle, but not quite,” and the brilliant artist whose simplest drawings are so lifelike that they are “begging to exist.” Wyatt conjures Rembrandt and his world in clear, compelling poetry that paints a portrait of the great painter in words.

An evocative, startling and lyrical look at the natural world and our interior landscape. This collection of recent poetry by Heidi Morrell masterfully interweaves the natural world and our inner experience of life. In the first section, Nature, our voyage includes the rugged California coast, the sea and sky in all their moods, and the mountains and rainforests of Hawaii. In the second section, People, we visit the landscape of the mind as it explores the world of human relationships in all its complexity. Reappearances from the natural world, including the coyotes of the L.A. foothills, link the book's two main themes in a unifying arc. Images, colors, rhythms and sounds invite us to step in and savor the view. These refreshingly original poems are a pleasure to read.

2018


Rembrandt’s Nose


Poems by Charles Wyatt.

$21.50. 108 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-692-99541-9.

2017


Old as Rainfall: Nature & People


Poems by Heidi Morrell.

$17.00. 74 pp.

ISBN: 1539596417.

Using a narrative style and plain-spoken story telling, John D. Wagner’s Fake Cities is a collection of poems centered on the themes of families, loss, and what can be recovered from that loss.  As Wagner says in his introduction:  "Even though many of these poems are about such loss, I don’t have the market cornered on grief.  I’ve experienced no more or less than anyone.  I simply have an urge to render the passings, and how I miss my loved ones, through poetry’s power to slow down time.  Maybe the poems can slow time down so much that you can walk around the events and people – imaginatively held in mid-air or frozen briefly out of time – and gaze to your heart’s content.  Perhaps you’ll see what I see; maybe you’ll see something I can’t or won’t.” In fact, the poems are about so much more than loss, as discovered in poems like “Loving Stars.”  In that poem, when the narrator is jump-starting his van’s battery in a cold snap, he spots a pre-dawn sky, velveteen and rich with stars, and realizes “that my life could be wholly / carried forth alone / by this sudden small joy.”  Or, in the poem “Could Be Love,” the narrator wonders about the flower bouquet his wife brought home just after he was diagnosed with cancer.  He says the bouquet “hasn’t lost a single / delicate petal nor weighty / grain of pollen” after a week in the vase.  “Who can / say why? Could be / love, though. Could be.” In the epiphanies of these two poems, and others in this collection, Wagner again and again uncovers the wonders of discovery and the wonders of love.

2016


Fake Cities


Poems by John Wagner.

$10.99. 62 pp.

ISBN: 978-1519151674.

A lavishly illustrated memoir by one of the pre-eminent handpress printers of the late twentieth century. This remarkably candid book chronicles in great detail the printing and publishing of the forty-two items Rummonds issued with his Plain Wrapper Press and Ex Ophidia imprints, plus twelve interludes that move the narrative along as the story unfolds. Today, even with the perspective of six decades, his reputation stands firm. Fantasies & Hard Knocks is a wondrous account including Rummonds’s adventures as an American expatriate working in Verona in the 1970s. No holds are barred when he recounts the indiscretions of his personal life, often jumping from sensuous peccadillos to periods of deep frustration while trying to master his craft on nineteenth-century handpresses. The text is interspersed with over 450 images, most in color, including illustrations from all his books, as well as 65 recipes for dishes he prepared for his friends and collaborators.

2015


Fantasies & Hard Knocks:

    My Life As a Printer


By Richard-Gabriel Rummonds.

$ 45.00. 813 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-692-36404-8.

Publisher’s Note

Readers wishing to view the images of Rembrandt’s artworks that are mentioned in the poems can see them online at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_etchings_by_Rembrandt,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_drawings_by_Rembrandt,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_paintings_by_Rembrandt.


The author has taken poetic license with three of the paintings:

The official title and date of “Self-Portrait with Brushes, Maulstick, and Palette in Hand” (page 76) is “Self-Portrait with Two Circles” (1665–1669).

The official title and date of “Self-Portrait as Democritus” (page 79) is “Self-Portrait as the Laughing Zeuxis while Painting an Old Woman” (1663).

The official title and date of “Self-Portrait, Hands Clasped” (page 80) is “Self-Portrait at the Age of 63” (1669).


Praise for Rembrandt’s Nose

Charles Wyatt’s wonderful poems are constructed around the bankruptcy inventory of 1656 that caused the Old Master to sell off his paintings and household possessions – and what possessions! Not only did he own a kings’ ransom of his own works and those of his contemporaries, but a museum of exotic weapons, clothing and artifacts brought to Amsterdam from around the world. Wyatt leads the reader through Rembrandt’s fascinating possessions as well as his fabulous body of work, poem by elegant poem, year by year, until the whole arc of Rembrandt’s life is displayed in lucid, imagistic poems. This book is the ultimate in ekphrasis – art described by art: Rembrandt’s world of painting, by Wyatt’s art of poetry, and the beautiful book artistry of Ex Ophidia Press. Not only will you love these poems, but you will see Rembrandt – and his ever-present nose – in a new light, as the visionary who could look at a rat-catcher, a hat, or a moment in the life of Christ with equal penetration. Charles Wyatt’s deft pen is as precise and evocative as his subject’s brush – a marvelous and unforgettable pairing.

                    – Sharon Cumberland, author of Strange with Age


Imagine what might happen when an accomplished poet with a pitch-perfect ear immerses himself in the life and work of one of the West’s great visual artists, and you will begin to know what it is to be carried away by Charles Wyatt’s Rembrandt’s Nose. In this volume, consisting of ekphrastic poems punctuated by lyric interludes and footnoted by inventories of Rembrandt’s possessions auctioned off in a bankruptcy agreement, his famously prominent nose serves as a trope for the sights, smells, sounds, and appetites that made up the world of his perceptions. Wyatt’s project is to restore all these items to their place in a life: the young artist drawing his first wife Saskia in a wide-brimmed straw hat, the ever-curious artist etching a rat poison peddler, the artist casting a cold eye on himself in the many self-portraits that chronicle his aging. The artworks themselves, described with sensitivity to both the dark and the light of the affections, become the vehicle through which the reader sees “in his, our own eyes” and comes to feel anew the wonder of being alive and sentient.

                    – Lee Sharkey, author of Walking Backwards


Rembrandt’s Nose celebrates the mystery of art even while demystifying it.
An accomplished musician, Wyatt has composed a “score” of three distinct voices that bring Rembrandt to life with sharp and startling immediacy. The first documents the bankruptcy that forced the artist to sell off his large personal collection. The second is a series of meditations on specific works by Rembrandt. These take us into the artist’s mind, looking over his shoulder, sharing his thoughts: “He’s looking for something new: / a hat, sword, feather, / but the nose is always / B-flat in the key of C.” (“Twenty Self-Portraits”). A third voice, italicized and untitled, is that of Wyatt himself, a lyric commentary on the artist he admires from the distance of more than three centuries and whose triumphs and failures he has researched so diligently: Oh, nose, nose of Rembrandt, ancient hand weapons, / etchings, of Cranach, Raphael, Mantegna, Durer, / Titian, thirty volumes of sketches by Rembrandt / himself – Oh nose, eyes, old face in the moon. This inventive polyphonic play invites us to ask profound questions about the relationship of art to artist and of artist to life, “How much it costs to see.” Notable is the poignant relationship with his first wife, Saskia, who died before thirty after childbirth: “she has an earache, / or just a tied-on nightcap, / and it’s dark around her face.” The artist’s ink rendering fails, by comparison, to capture the actual woman, the mystery of her subjectivity: “Hold her upside down / and you’ll hear it better. / It’s like mice in the cupboard, / that subtle sound. / Study her face again. / She’s listening now” (“Saskia Sitting Up in Bed”). Turning the visual into music and fact into vision,
Rembrandt’s Nose is a rare blend of passionate intelligence and structural mastery. Like Rembrandt’s legacy, it’s a work of enduring value.

                    Stan Sanvel Rubin, author of There. Here.


Rembrandt’s Nose combines ekphrastic and lyric poetry to reveal what’s beneath the surface of the painter’s work and behind the eyes of those self-portraits, including smells, sounds, tastes, and tactility. Wonders and mysteries are found even in the humblest places: in chairs, brooms, feathers, dust motes, “cows pissing.” And there, like a refrain: the nose, “that sackbut, that viol, that harmonious bagpipe” – herald of imperfection, irony, appetite, and mortality. The mundane world also abides in the framing of the poems with lists of Rembrandt’s belongings compiled in petitioning for voluntary bankruptcy. There’s an echo throughout of Auden’s remark about paintings of the Old Masters: “That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course / Anyhow in a corner / some untidy spot / Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer’s horse / scratches its innocent behind on a tree.” This is a book to read and reread.

                    William Trowbridge, author of Vanishing Points


The editors of Ex Ophidia Press Prize for Poetry have awarded a book that is as deeply moving as it is profound. Charles Wyatt’s poems offer us a close study of Rembrandt’s paintings, his pen and ink drawings and his black chalk drawings while succeeding in exciting a deeper understanding of ourselves.

    Among the many lines I will forever call up are these from “The Amstel Dike near Trompenburg”:

            – the frame we carry everywhere – think of
            that edge of thought, the book, the room,
            the square windowpane, the eye’s fading

            periphery, the world’s – somewhere between
            a man’s horizon and his soul, the line

            he draws, and stays behind, over and again.

This book is, as Wyatt writes of Rembrandt’s black chalk drawing “Standing Beggar,” “something / drawn to flurry, / begging to exist.”

    After you read the poems and learn about Rembrandt’s supplies and his furnishings, you will feel as deeply as Wyatt does in “Manoah’s Sacrifice”:

            Everything that isn’t bolted down
            is blown away,

            every line, curved and tangled like wire,
            every splash of ink,

            is blown and flying off.

And so you will come to realize, as Wyatt writes in “The Good Samaritan Arriving at the Inn”:

            it’s not what you see that draws you.

            It’s where you’ve been.

Rembrandt’s Nose, with its unique approach to evoking the life of a master and his art, is an important reading experience.

                    Sheila Bender, author of Behind Us the Way Grows Wider



A Note about the Author

Charles Wyatt is the author of two collections of short fiction, Listening to Mozart, (University of Iowa Press) and  Swan of Tuonela, (Hanging Loose Press); a novella, Falling Stones: The Spirit Autobiography of S.M. Jones (Texas Review Press); and three poetry chapbooks, A Girl Sleeping (Sow’s Ear Poetry Review Chapbook Series,) Myomancy (Finishing Line Press,) and Angelicus ex Machina (Finishing Line Press.) He is the recipient of the Beloit Poetry Journal’s 2010 Chad Walsh Prize and the Writers at Work 2013 Fellowship in Poetry. A poetry collection, Goldberg-Variations, was published by Carolina Wren Press in 2015.


In addition to Wyatt’s winning manuscript, there were five finalists: Robert Cooperman’s The Ghosts and Bones of Troy; David Ebenbach for Disappearing Cities; Deborah Fleming for River of Lost Souls; Jim Nawrocki for Vanishing Point; and Art Ó Súilleabháin for Mayflies in the Heather.

A Note about the Author

Heidi Morrell lives and writes in Los Angeles. She has been writing since age nine, but started submitting her work to publications only in the last three years. Some publications where her work has appeared include East Coast Literary Review; Poised in Flight Anthology; Hurricane Press; Emerging Literary Journal; Poetry Pacific; Rotary Dial; Outside in Literature and Travel Magazine; Tomato Anthology; Mothers Always Write. She has a poetry chapbook, Also as Well, from Finishing Line Press.


In addition to Morrell’s winning manuscript, there were five finalists: Lauren Davis for Sleeping Through the Earthquake; Jayne Marek for The Tree Surgeon Dreams of Bowling; Peter Morrison for The Consolations of Philosophy; James Najarian for An Introduction to a Devout Life; and Adrian Potter for The Blues Almanac.

A Note about the Author

John Wagner is an award-winning poet and non-fiction writer. He received an undergraduate degree in philosophy from St. Michael’s College in Vermont and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Alabama. He makes his home in Vermont, with his wife Leita Hancock and their two sons, Asa and Micah. This is his fourteenth book.

A Note about the Author

For almost twenty-five years, using the imprints of Plain Wrapper Press and Ex Ophidia, Richard-Gabriel Rummonds printed and published illustrated limited editions of contemporary literature on iron handpresses, primarily in Verona, Italy, and in Cottondale, Alabama. Rummonds has had several exhibitions of his work in Rome, New York, San Francisco, and Verona, culminating with the major retrospective exhibition held at the Biblioteca di via Senato in Milan, Italy, in 1999. His books can be found in many of the world’s most famous museums and libraries, as well as numerous private collections of fine printing.