Archive for October, 2015

Halloween Village in the Rare Book Room

October 30th, 2015

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The animatronic Halloween village will be on display in the Rare Book Room from 9-5pm on Friday, October 30th and Monday, November 2nd. The village is on loan from Amy Gilgan, one of the creepy reference librarians at the Gleeson Library.

zombrarian


INSPIRATION FROM OUT THE ARCHIVES: Translating a Jorge de Sana poem in honor of Albert Huerta, S.J. & Michael Kotlager, S.J.

October 28th, 2015

broteria cover

When I first began working at Gleeson every other year or so at least a few students would stop by the former Periodicals Desk on the second floor looking for material from the 1950s and 1960s relating to poet Allen Ginsberg and/or other Beat Generation material. The Beats were countercultural literary mavericks who broke onto the national scene not long after Ginsberg first publicly read his poem “Howl” in 1955 at the long gone Six Gallery on Fillmore St. here in San Francisco.

Familiar with Ginsberg and the Beats I was curious about the class which was directing them over to Gleeson to dive into our microfilm holdings of newspapers in search of primary source material. I learned that it was Professor Albert Huerta’s class which was dedicated to introducing students to local San Francisco literary history.

Huerta passed away a few years after I first became aware of his class. I never met him but I know quite a few local personalities from the poetry crowd who did and attended gatherings at his book strewn apartment near Alamo Square. From former Board of Supervisor and attorney Matt Gonzalez to poet Neeli Cherkovski, biographer and friend to the novelist Charles Bukowski along with San Francisco Beat poets such as Gregory Corso, Philip Lamantia, and Bob Kaufman, Huerta reached out to the ongoing political and social literary circles of the city.

After Huerta’s death, much of his personal library was donated to Gleeson and is slowly being absorbed into our collection. All of the individual books have book plates noting that they belonged to Huerta. Many of the poetry books have been personally inscribed to him by the author. These include North Beach’s own Jack Hirschman’s terrific, massive, and ongoing, The Arcanes and my pal Cedar Sigo’s first book of poems Selected Writings.

In addition, my fellow co-worker at Gleeson, Kelci, took Huerta’s class herself as a USF undergraduate and remembers it fondly. As does Andrew who now works for USF’s ITS department and Connor likewise employed by USF down at the School of Education. No doubt there’s dozens of alumni whose educational lives were impacted by Huerta.

Just a couple weeks ago the USF community suffered the loss of our University Archivist, Michael Kotlager, S.J. Father Kotlanger was a delightful member of Gleeson’s team. In the aftermath of losing him some loose ends of work he had yet to tackle down in the University Archives must now be sorted out and straightened up.

As part of this project some issues of the Portuguese literary magazine Brotéria dating from 1977-1981 came across my desk for evaluation. While Gleeson does have this title shelved in Periodicals our holdings stop with 1975. These loose issues are not appropriate to add to our collection as they are not complete volume sets. However upon examining the issues I did notice they came from Huerta’s library with his personal seal stamped upon the table of contents page. Each issue also contains an article written by Huerta, such as “Jorge de Sena, Kenneth Rexroth e a Geração ‹‹Beat››”[Jorge de Sena, Kenneth Rexroth & the Beat Generation] from the July 1981 issue.

brotera toc

I recognize poet Kenneth Rexroth as one of the Beat Generation’s grand-daddies. He handled the introductions the night of the Six Gallery reading and I’ve always felt his poem written memorializing Dylan Thomas “Thou Shall Not Kill” in fact served as vital inspiration for Ginsberg’s own “Howl.” It’s worth listening to each for comparison: here’s Rexroth. Here’s Ginsberg. Gleeson also has a recording of Ginsberg reading several poems, including “Howl.” While we’re on Ginsberg, this is an excellent interview with him available via Gleeson’s subscription to the Kanopy streaming videos database. Huerta himself got in the long poem game, composing his own “Grito Mejicano,” or “Mexican Howl.” For years Gleeson held only a single copy in the Rare Book Room yet we recently acquired a second circulating copy.

While Rexroth is a known figure to me I had only the faintest hint of awareness for Jorge de Sena. As it turns out Huerta appears to have known de Sena, who I believe taught for a number of years down at U.C. Santa Barbara (as did Rexroth late in life), most of Huerta’s articles published in Brotéria are about de Sena. Curious to read some of de Sena’s poetry I performed an author search in our library catalog Ignacio and turned up a bilingual selection of his poems. After reading the short Foreword written by his wife Mécia, I opened up to the first pages of his work and was immediately struck by his poem “Manchas.”

Manchas

While I think this English version by Helen Berreto is just fine as far as it goes, I felt somehow stirred to attempt my own version. So I gave it a try using Google Translator (I know no Spanish, let alone Portuguese) along with Gleeson’s online access to the Oxford English Dictionary and its handy historical Thesaurus option.

SMUDGES

for Albert Huerta, S.J. & Michael Kotlager, S.J.

after Jorge de Sena’s “Manchas”

In sky above
sheeny smudges
come & go.

Here on earth
sheeny haunts
remain dark.

& nothing is
that which plays between,
one or the other.

Sky is always sky
however wishes look.

Earth often fails remember
& stays in water
—comes & goes,
but is not earth.

I dedicate the poem to the memory of both Huerta and Father Kotlanger as the loose issues of Brotéria no doubt came to be in the University Archives as a result of the friendship between these two Jesuit brothers. I emailed the poem out to some friends shortly after I wrote it. Neeli Cherkovski responded with some fond memories. Huerta blessed the home he shares in Bernal Heights with his partner Jessie and he recalled dining at USF’s Jesuit residence with poet and City Lights Books founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti as guests of Huerta. I like to think Father Kotlanger took part in that dinner as well.


INSPIRATION FROM OUT THE ARCHIVES: Translating a Jorge de Sana poem in honor of Albert Huerta, S.J. & Michael Kotlager, S.J.

October 28th, 2015

broteria cover

When I first began working at Gleeson every other year or so at least a few students would stop by the former Periodicals Desk on the second floor looking for material from the 1950s and 1960s relating to poet Allen Ginsberg and/or other Beat Generation material. The Beats were countercultural literary mavericks who broke onto the national scene not long after Ginsberg first publicly read his poem “Howl” in 1955 at the long gone Six Gallery on Fillmore St. here in San Francisco.

Familiar with Ginsberg and the Beats I was curious about the class which was directing them over to Gleeson to dive into our microfilm holdings of newspapers in search of primary source material. I learned that it was Professor Albert Huerta’s class which was dedicated to introducing students to local San Francisco literary history.

Huerta passed away a few years after I first became aware of his class. I never met him but I know quite a few local personalities from the poetry crowd who did and attended gatherings at his book strewn apartment near Alamo Square. From former Board of Supervisor and attorney Matt Gonzalez to poet Neeli Cherkovski, biographer and friend to the novelist Charles Bukowski along with San Francisco Beat poets such as Gregory Corso, Philip Lamantia, and Bob Kaufman, Huerta reached out to the ongoing political and social literary circles of the city.

After Huerta’s death, much of his personal library was donated to Gleeson and is slowly being absorbed into our collection. All of the individual books have book plates noting that they belonged to Huerta. Many of the poetry books have been personally inscribed to him by the author. These include North Beach’s own Jack Hirschman’s terrific, massive, and ongoing, The Arcanes and my pal Cedar Sigo’s first book of poems Selected Writings.

In addition, my fellow co-worker at Gleeson, Kelci, took Huerta’s class herself as a USF undergraduate and remembers it fondly. As does Andrew who now works for USF’s ITS department and Connor likewise employed by USF down at the School of Education. No doubt there’s dozens of alumni whose educational lives were impacted by Huerta.

Just a couple weeks ago the USF community suffered the loss of our University Archivist, Michael Kotlager, S.J. Father Kotlanger was a delightful member of Gleeson’s team. In the aftermath of losing him some loose ends of work he had yet to tackle down in the University Archives must now be sorted out and straightened up.

As part of this project some issues of the Portuguese literary magazine Brotéria dating from 1977-1981 came across my desk for evaluation. While Gleeson does have this title shelved in Periodicals our holdings stop with 1975. These loose issues are not appropriate to add to our collection as they are not complete volume sets. However upon examining the issues I did notice they came from Huerta’s library with his personal seal stamped upon the table of contents page. Each issue also contains an article written by Huerta, such as “Jorge de Sena, Kenneth Rexroth e a Geração ‹‹Beat››”[Jorge de Sena, Kenneth Rexroth & the Beat Generation] from the July 1981 issue.

brotera toc

I recognize poet Kenneth Rexroth as one of the Beat Generation’s grand-daddies. He handled the introductions the night of the Six Gallery reading and I’ve always felt his poem written memorializing Dylan Thomas “Thou Shall Not Kill” in fact served as vital inspiration for Ginsberg’s own “Howl.” It’s worth listening to each for comparison: here’s Rexroth. Here’s Ginsberg. Gleeson also has a recording of Ginsberg reading several poems, including “Howl.” While we’re on Ginsberg, this is an excellent interview with him available via Gleeson’s subscription to the Kanopy streaming videos database. Huerta himself got in the long poem game, composing his own “Grito Mejicano,” or “Mexican Howl.” For years Gleeson held only a single copy in the Rare Book Room yet we recently acquired a second circulating copy.

While Rexroth is a known figure to me I had only the faintest hint of awareness for Jorge de Sena. As it turns out Huerta appears to have known de Sena, who I believe taught for a number of years down at U.C. Santa Barbara (as did Rexroth late in life), most of Huerta’s articles published in Brotéria are about de Sena. Curious to read some of de Sena’s poetry I performed an author search in our library catalog Ignacio and turned up a bilingual selection of his poems. After reading the short Foreword written by his wife Mécia, I opened up to the first pages of his work and was immediately struck by his poem “Manchas.”

Manchas

While I think this English version by Helen Berreto is just fine as far as it goes, I felt somehow stirred to attempt my own version. So I gave it a try using Google Translator (I know no Spanish, let alone Portuguese) along with Gleeson’s online access to the Oxford English Dictionary and its handy historical Thesaurus option.

SMUDGES

for Albert Huerta, S.J. & Michael Kotlager, S.J.

after Jorge de Sena’s “Manchas”

In sky above
sheeny smudges
come & go.

Here on earth
sheeny haunts
remain dark.

& nothing is
that which plays between,
one or the other.

Sky is always sky
however wishes look.

Earth often fails remember
& stays in water
—comes & goes,
but is not earth.

I dedicate the poem to the memory of both Huerta and Father Kotlanger as the loose issues of Brotéria no doubt came to be in the University Archives as a result of the friendship between these two Jesuit brothers. I emailed the poem out to some friends shortly after I wrote it. Neeli Cherkovski responded with some fond memories. Huerta blessed the home he shares in Bernal Heights with his partner Jessie and he recalled dining at USF’s Jesuit residence with poet and City Lights Books founder Lawrence Ferlinghetti as guests of Huerta. I like to think Father Kotlanger took part in that dinner as well.


Classic Rounded Back Binding

October 16th, 2015

Classic rounded back binding is the epitome of a sturdy binding that holds up well against the ravages of time/use and will be the featured binding of this post. This post also marks the last installment of my series about examples of bindings found in Gleeson Library’s Rare Book Room. Thanks to John Hawk, Head of Special Collections, and Brianna Cockett-Mamiya, Reference Department Student Assistant, for helping make these photographs possible.

When discussing classic rounded back binding, there are three primary aspects of anatomy to be considered: its characteristic rounded spine, the way the boards (or covers) are laced in, and its dutiful and often ornate headbands and tailbands.

The spines of sewed books often swell due to the extra mass of thread and folded edge of the signatures, as well as the pressure from the boards being fitted into the joints and laced in. In these cases, it’s preferable for the swell to create a rounded spine with a concave fore edge because it takes pressure off the hinges and provides the joints in which to fit in the boards. This all leads to longevity. Around the year 1500, bookbinders realized this, and started to deliberately round spines, which is done by placing the sewn textblock in a metal press or vise and gradually pushing the spine into a rounded shape with a hammer. Once the rounding is completed, the spine is backed (often done to even out the valleys between the cords and produce a flat spine), which includes adhering a tube-like device that will allow a hollow of space between the spine and the spine cover, once it is covered.

As I mentioned, when the spine is rounded, it folds over on either edge just enough to create joints in which to insert the boards that make the covers. In this scenario, the hard case is not made separately and then glued in like in flat back hard case binding; each board has holes and grooves bored through it, and the cords around which the textblock are sewn are left long enough to be threaded through the holes/grooves, fanned out, and glued down on the inside of the board. The rounding, backing, and lacing in the boards is called forwarding—basically getting the book ready for its final covering and decoration.

After the book is forwarded, the headband and tailband are sewn in, which strengthens the sewing of the textblock, provides protection to the edges, and serves the aesthetic appeal of the book. Then the entire book—boards and spine—is covered with cloth or leather and the endsheets are pasted down, completing the binding. I invite you to read more about the process and its history on my blog.

Shakespeare’s sonnets. Introduced and edited by Helen Vendler; published by Arion Press (San Francisco)

IMG_1423
Clear view of the title embossed in gold foil on the spine of this beautiful edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets by Arion Press
IMG_1424
In this image, the rounded spine, joints, and beautifully sewn headband are apparent. It is possible to observe how the rounding of the spine has left joints for the book boards, so that the covers lay flat. It is also possible to observe the three-quarters binding, in where the spine and part of the cover, as well as the corners (not pictured) are covered in leather, while the rest of the boards are covered in cloth.
IMG_1426
Sonnet 130 (“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun…”). Beautiful letter pressed black text with one red initial signaling the beginning of a new sonnet. Also notice the texture of the hand-cut edges of each quarto and the glimmer of the gold in the covering cloth on the fore edge of the front cover.

Through the looking-glass, and what Alice found there. By Lewis Carroll, with fifty illustrations by John Tenniel. First edition, 1872.

Cover, demonstrating one-half binding as the proportion of the red leather on the spine and corner is 1:1 to the cover material.
Cover, demonstrating one-half binding as the proportion of the red leather on the spine and corners is 1:1 to the cover material.
Detail of spine, in where the rounded spine is apparent, as well as the raised cords around which the textblock is sewn and through which the boards are laced. This is a great example of the raised cord binding style.
Detail of spine, in where the rounded spine is apparent, as well as the raised cords around which the textblock is sewn and through which the boards are laced. This is a great example of the raised cord binding style.
Detail of interior hinge and marbled end papers. If you look closely at the hinge, you can see where the cords run from the textblock into the boards.
Detail of interior hinge and marbled end papers. Click to enlarge. If you look closely at the hinge, you can see where the cords run from the textblock into the boards.
Detail of content, including one of Tenniel's illustrations (of a kitty cat).
Detail of content, including one of Tenniel’s illustrations (of Alice holding up her kitty cat).

In case you missed my previous posts on styles of bindings found in the Rare Book Room, you can view them here. Are there styles of bindings about which you’re curious? If so, leave a comment and I’ll investigate for you.


Classic Rounded Back Binding

October 16th, 2015

Classic rounded back binding is the epitome of a sturdy binding that holds up well against the ravages of time/use and will be the featured binding of this post. This post also marks the last installment of my series about examples of bindings found in Gleeson Library’s Rare Book Room. Thanks to John Hawk, Head of Special Collections, and Brianna Cockett-Mamiya, Reference Department Student Assistant, for helping make these photographs possible.

When discussing classic rounded back binding, there are three primary aspects of anatomy to be considered: its characteristic rounded spine, the way the boards (or covers) are laced in, and its dutiful and often ornate headbands and tailbands.

The spines of sewed books often swell due to the extra mass of thread and folded edge of the signatures, as well as the pressure from the boards being fitted into the joints and laced in. In these cases, it’s preferable for the swell to create a rounded spine with a concave fore edge because it takes pressure off the hinges and provides the joints in which to fit in the boards. This all leads to longevity. Around the year 1500, bookbinders realized this, and started to deliberately round spines, which is done by placing the sewn textblock in a metal press or vise and gradually pushing the spine into a rounded shape with a hammer. Once the rounding is completed, the spine is backed (often done to even out the valleys between the cords and produce a flat spine), which includes adhering a tube-like device that will allow a hollow of space between the spine and the spine cover, once it is covered.

As I mentioned, when the spine is rounded, it folds over on either edge just enough to create joints in which to insert the boards that make the covers. In this scenario, the hard case is not made separately and then glued in like in flat back hard case binding; each board has holes and grooves bored through it, and the cords around which the textblock are sewn are left long enough to be threaded through the holes/grooves, fanned out, and glued down on the inside of the board. The rounding, backing, and lacing in the boards is called forwarding—basically getting the book ready for its final covering and decoration.

After the book is forwarded, the headband and tailband are sewn in, which strengthens the sewing of the textblock, provides protection to the edges, and serves the aesthetic appeal of the book. Then the entire book—boards and spine—is covered with cloth or leather and the endsheets are pasted down, completing the binding. I invite you to read more about the process and its history on my blog.

Shakespeare’s sonnets. Introduced and edited by Helen Vendler; published by Arion Press (San Francisco)

IMG_1423
Clear view of the title embossed in gold foil on the spine of this beautiful edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets by Arion Press
IMG_1424
In this image, the rounded spine, joints, and beautifully sewn headband are apparent. It is possible to observe how the rounding of the spine has left joints for the book boards, so that the covers lay flat. It is also possible to observe the three-quarters binding, in where the spine and part of the cover, as well as the corners (not pictured) are covered in leather, while the rest of the boards are covered in cloth.
IMG_1426
Sonnet 130 (“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun…”). Beautiful letter pressed black text with one red initial signaling the beginning of a new sonnet. Also notice the texture of the hand-cut edges of each quarto and the glimmer of the gold in the covering cloth on the fore edge of the front cover.

Through the looking-glass, and what Alice found there. By Lewis Carroll, with fifty illustrations by John Tenniel. First edition, 1872.

Cover, demonstrating one-half binding as the proportion of the red leather on the spine and corner is 1:1 to the cover material.
Cover, demonstrating one-half binding as the proportion of the red leather on the spine and corners is 1:1 to the cover material.
Detail of spine, in where the rounded spine is apparent, as well as the raised cords around which the textblock is sewn and through which the boards are laced. This is a great example of the raised cord binding style.
Detail of spine, in where the rounded spine is apparent, as well as the raised cords around which the textblock is sewn and through which the boards are laced. This is a great example of the raised cord binding style.
Detail of interior hinge and marbled end papers. If you look closely at the hinge, you can see where the cords run from the textblock into the boards.
Detail of interior hinge and marbled end papers. Click to enlarge. If you look closely at the hinge, you can see where the cords run from the textblock into the boards.
Detail of content, including one of Tenniel's illustrations (of a kitty cat).
Detail of content, including one of Tenniel’s illustrations (of Alice holding up her kitty cat).

In case you missed my previous posts on styles of bindings found in the Rare Book Room, you can view them here. Are there styles of bindings about which you’re curious? If so, leave a comment and I’ll investigate for you.


seal-workrelease