A title from The Old School Press 

Henry James Sat Here

Reflections on Siena with poems by Anne Coon and images by Kurt Feuerherm 

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About the book

Out of print

In April 2002, over a lunch of panini and Sienese ribollita soup, two long-time friends, Kurt Feuerherm and Anne Coon, were enjoying a chilly spring day in Siena, Italy. Siena’s Campo was filled with children, their parents, and the gathering tourists, when the conversation turned to the past and to the painters and writers who had once sat where Kurt and Anne were sitting. That conversation marked the beginning of a collaboration that led to Henry James Sat Here, a volume of poetry and mixed media artwork (watercolour, collage, and ink) blending Anne’s words and Kurt’s images. Some pairings evoke the moods and colours of the Tuscan landscape; others capture the faces and figures seen in the streets of Siena; still others suggest the abstractions of dream and memory, the troubled sleep of a person far from home.

As a Professor of Language and Literature in the College of Liberal Arts at Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, New York), Anne teaches Creative Writing, Italian Poetry, Modern Poetry, and Patterns in Poetry and Mathematics. The poems in Henry James Sat Here have been selected from a longer poem cycle, Via del Paradiso, in which Anne created an intimate record of the months she lived in Siena. Living alone and learning the language, she comes to know the city, its people, and its cultural past; at the same time, she begins to understand herself in a new way, as outsider, observer, and then participant in a world where she is 'always among others'.

During the 1990s, Kurt lived and taught in Florence, Italy, and travelled extensively throughout Tuscany, and his art focuses on the abstraction of nature-related subjects. Kurt’s artwork for this book – some pieces taken from sketchbooks he kept while living in Florence and others done while sitting at a cafe table or later in his studio – complements and illustrates the poems while also comprising a powerful, independent body of work.

One of Kurt Feuerherm's paintings from the book

About the edition

I have printed nine poem-image pairs and I wanted to do something manageable in a small edition and in an interesting way. I have always been looking for ways of allowing a book to act as a display of its contents as well as a straightforward codex, with pages that you turn. tokonoma was one such attempt. Henry James Sat Here (the title of one of Anne's poems) is in a format that allows it to stand open on its own for display, sit on the knees for reading, and fold into a container for storage on the shelf - click on the button above to see how it works. Basically the nine poem-image pairs are joined together to form a zig-zag of openings, the ends of which can then be turned to face each other to form a circle for display. When folded up, the zig-zag can be dropped into a Japanese-style portfolio, strictly a shallow box with four drop-over flaps. One half-height flap come down from the top, and a second up from the bottom. Two further flaps fold over from right and left, and on the inside of each are the title page and the colophon page respectively which, in this way, become part of the container rather than of the book itself.

This has been a good opportunity to use our 14pt Octavian again - it stands up so well in poetry, especially with strong images - and I have used the same inkjet technology for Kurt's images as I used for Peter Harris's watercolours in The Bricks of Venice. It is capable of rendering both subtlety and intensity on 100% cotton papers and with archival quality. The entire book is printed on 225gsm Somerset watercolour paper.

There are ninety-five copies of which only sixty are for sale. £150.

On 26 October 2006, in Rochester Public Library, Kurt and Anne had a reception, a brief reading, and exhibit of the book and Kurt's Italian paintings. Kurt's work and Henry James Sat Here were then on display for a month in a gallery at the library.

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