My first encounter with Johanna Skibsrud was reading her Giller-prize-winning novel “The Sentimentalists.” Whole pages of that book stuck with me the way poems might, and I copied a few passages down into my notebook of inspirational nuggets. It wasn’t until later that I learnt Skibsrud is, in fact, a poet. The thing that grabs me most about her writing is her ability to teleport me into a specific mental moment, a precise mood, that I recognize as having had in the past myself, but never would have imagined anyone else experiencing. Maybe what I just wrote is too vague or doesn’t really make sense, but I guess it boils down to the ability for art to dissolve the barriers we’re constantly erecting between “my” self and all the other selves.
Skibsrud’s publisher/printer, Gaspereau Press, is a boutique hand-binding letter-pressing shop in Nova Scotia. They got some publicity around the time of Skibsrud’s Giller win due to the sudden demand the high profile book put on the small-batch-style house. If you are a fan of the physical art object that is a book, or if you want to be converted, order something from Gaspereau. The quality of the paper and the binding and the whole thing really makes for a different reading experience than digital. In my opinion. Plus they have been super helpful and open minded about my experiment of setting these poems (one on Paper Birds, more to come) to music.
This post is part of a non-hierarchical 10-day countdown to the launch of the EP, and to the first date of our tour, expressing my immeasurable gratitude to the many folk who’ve contributed directly to realization of the music that’s happening on Paper Birds and/or to the the physical object that is the CD itself. The names are weblinks, so go see/hear what these folks are doing out there in the wide world web.