A title from The Old School Press 

Figures in a Setting

A collection of six poems by James Kirkup, with line drawings by John Watts

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About the book

In print

To provide an early focus for its work in printing poetry, The Old School Press published a series of five books, each consisting of new work by a contemporary British poet, accompanied by illustrations by British artists.

James Kirkup is well known as a poet and translator, and he also published three novels, six volumes of autobiography, plays, and essays. He has been published in particular by the Sceptre Press, Rockingham Press, Hub Editions, and the University of Salzburg Press. His work appeared in various magazines in Britain, Japan, France and the USA, and he was a frequent obituarist for The Independent newspaper in the UK.

We collaborated with Kirkup on two other books: tokonoma and TankAlphabet. Unfortunately we never met (he died in 2009) but correspondence with him was always a pleasure and one would receive a haiku or two occasionally in the post as well as a copy of a recent book.

In this collection, I have printed twelve previously unpublished poems on the theme of the figure, giving an opportunity of combining each with a full-page line drawing, commissioned from John Watts.

There is now a website devoted to Kirkup's work.

One of John Watts's images from the book

About the edition

The text is set in 14pt Centaur italic. The line drawings were printed from line blocks. The edition is 185 copies signed by poet and artist, priced at £42 per copy. A further thirty sets of sheets were available for binders but are now all sold. 24pp.

The series is to a uniform external design: quarter bound in yellow cloth with boards covered with a hand-made paper from the Larroque mill. The Larroque paper comes in a range of delicate colours, and a different one is used for each title in the series. Each book bears its title embossed in gold on the front board. The text paper is either 145gsm Zerkall or 170gsm Magnani mould-made paper, and the end papers black Canson Mi Teintes. Each book is about 265mm high and 175mm wide.

Find out about other titles in the series - click on the green blobs

Desmond Post (out of print)

David Burnett

James Kirkup

Adrian Henri

Andrew Motion


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Copyright Martyn Ould 2023