‘I am reading a book on Kafka. It is a library book, and someone has marked a passage in the margin with a long, wavering line. I pay the passage special attention without finding it particularly rewarding. As I turn the page the line moves. It is along dark hair.’

Alan Bennett diary entry.

Bringing to mind a piece by Nina Chua and Pavel Büchler – ‘Psychology of Forms’, with strands of hair printed on pages of a book, from 2017.

“The other day I had a word to say about the necessity for the professional book-handler, a person who will maul the books of the illiterate, but wealthy, upstarts so that the books will look read and re read by their owners.

Premier handling- each volume to be thoroughly handled, eight leaves in each to be dog eared, a suitable passage in not less than twenty-five volumes to be underlined in red pencil, and a leaflet in French on the works of Victor Hugo to be inserted as a forgotten book-mark in each.”

Flann O’Brien Buchhandlung ‘The best of Myles’

“I write in the margins.” Found in the top right-hand margin from the opening essay ‘The Page’, a short rumination on the conventions of the printed page, in George Perec’s ‘Species of Spaces and Other Pieces’.

Annotation was taught as a routine learning tool to develop a discourse between reader and text. Marking down, copying, and written observations were all traditional devices for remembering but why in the margins.

One argument for this is that readers know exactly where to find their notes since they are permanently attached to the text the reader has a better chance of understanding the intention behind the notes.

Moreover, because of the immediacy of note taking in the margin it allows for a continuous engagement with the text, a quick thought or idea gets noted down where it occurs.

Barthes notes in his essay ‘sur la lecture’ that reading is subject to the structure imposed by the text, it needs and respects it, but it also perverts it. This is also the case with marginalia.

Although the original text is not the same as first intended, causing problems for future readers, note takers tend to imitate the style of the writer they are commenting on.

The margin is like a space left for the reader, a site for reaction or dialogue, the annotator breaks with their anonymity marking down reactions, raising questions and listing observations. Derrida talks of the marginal space as a metaphor for challenges to otherwise closed systems.

‘In a polemical context if I want to be sure that my reply or attack will be read and not passed by, indeed read before the main text, I put it in the footnote’1

The margin functions as a boarder inside which the text appears and in this sense, it has a frame, a limit, but the margin can also operate as a space for additions, becoming a place for marginalia.

The link between the text and its margins is determined by the page. The importance of the physical ground of the text, bringing attention to the edge, emphasising the page as an object in space, one of which aspires to blackness or clearing.

1. Jacques Derrida, “This is Not an Oral Footnote” in Annotation and Its Texts, ed. Stephen A. Barney (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 194.

A review of How Pam Felt Before Pam Fled.

Daniella Watson Hughes’ ‘How Pam Felt Before Pam Fled’ offers droplets of half woken thoughts which spiral into a place where past and present marry in future longings. Edited by Tessa Berring, with accompanying drawings by Joanne Robertson, the pamphlet injects the haze of forgotten night minutes, hastily cemented into the subconscious.

Four poems, introducing Watson Hughes’ two short fiction pieces, set a botanical scene. They resemble important notes scribbled on a coaster in a bar; a reminder to not forget anything when nipping to the off-licence on the way home. Essential. Mundane.

Unforgettable feelings. Rooted in arbor images, Watson Hughes’ pamphlet grows in garish greens and feels like the bark of a young tree. Blindsided, the reader takes sides only to eventually come full circle.

Full of hope and regret and converge, ‘How Pam Felt Before Pam Fled’ is for the reader who appreciates that time is all but linear and who is not afraid of the transience of all that is.

Review by Lisa Lorenz of Team Trident Press.

A short interview with derek beaulieu

1. Firstly, your thoughts on the book as an exhibition space and how this continues to be a valid site.

i think that the book completely retains the import that it always has. i believe that the worry that digital publishing will supplant or endanger the book aren’t thinking wide enough. the internet and digital publishing can swerve and augment our publishing ideas and how we use the book as an exhibition and distributive space, but it doesn’t endanger it. what writers can do now is think of a means of writing and publishing which more accurately reflects contemporary reading – tablets, PDFs, websites, desktops, icons, swiping, posts, etc. – and see how fiction, poetry and the book can reflect those changes.

2. Could you talk about writing as dialogue and the importance of (unexpected) collaboration. Why small presses are relevant or, going a step further, crucial to expanding dialogue and linking disparate practices?

i post all of my publications as free downloadable PDFs on my website in order to facilitate the unknown. i imagine that the writing set free on the internet is like a student who goes off to college: they come home in the summers with dyed hair, piercings and new points of view – they return stranger, more unusual and exhibit growth (ideally) in ways that their parents wouldn’t expect. THAT is what i want in my own writing – i’m not here to teach with my writing, i’m here to learn from it and from the conversations that it emboldens.

small presses also support that, they can take risks by publishing in forms, papers, inks and formats that are often out of reach of larger presses due to either financial reasons or means of production. by working with smaller presses, authors and artists can learn how their writing can work when allowed to exist within a collaborative conversation of production.

3. Next, can you say a little on the paradoxical liberation often provided by working within strict limitations?

limitations and constraints force the writer to solve problems that they wouldn’t have created otherwise, to build new pathways, new furrows in the fields of their practice. if nothing else it can make writers discover that they can push against their own perceived limitations, which is, in my opinion, why we become artists — to do things we didn’t think we could do.

4. Turning to the act of erasure, in writing, as a creative act, I’m thinking specifically about your ‘a, A novel’ – leaving the punctuation and sounds of the city in place – and ‘Local colour’.

erasure, if done thoughtfully and defensibly, is a way of writing which mines existing texts; it is ultimately a readerly practice – the ultimate close reading. My books Local Colour and a, A Novel both turn to reading as a productive practice — a way of revealing physically the generative quirks in the way that we read, the way that we create meaning. that isn’t to suggest that erasure can be applied without consideration; all artistic gestures should be open to questioning and defense, it’s a conversation.

5. An educator used to ask me “what have you done today?” In a recent interview you spoke about asking your students to write a page a day, a task they said was impossible. Could you explain the rewards that come through a continued engagement with “extreme” projects and a daily practice?

I strive for a daily practice (though recognize that it has been ever harder during CoVid-19). I argue that writers imagine a map in their head of everything that writing could be — the lands of poetry, the mountains or prose, the shoreline of nonfiction — and then walk to the edge of what they can imagine and then add just a little more. find the edge of your map and then see if you can add just a wee bit more to your own understanding — and thus the understanding that we all have.

6. Finally, name a few individuals who have had an influence on your practice – past and present.

certainly the most important influence on my own writing practice is the Canadian poet bpnichol (1944-1988). His believe that he was “an apprentice to language” – not a master of the form or an expert, but an apprentice — continues to remind me of why i want to be a poet; i want to be in apprenticeship to language. There are so many contemporary poets who are creating work who i highly recommend: Nasser Hussain, Gregory Betts, Helen Hajnoczky, Cecilie Bjørgås Jordheim, Jen Bervin, Astra Papachristodoulou, Nick Montfort, Christian Bok, Kevin Stebner — each of them is creating work surprising me and enthralling me and each is redefining what a poet can create.



Working through files at work this week the following line leapt out at me – “A collection of ink rubbings of stone inscriptions, pasted together in an accordion-style folding format.” It triggered thoughts relating to the history of concertina books, from early orihon folded configurations through to artists’ books utilising this unfolding leporello design.

As noted in the beautifully crafted ‘A Concertina of Concertinas’ by Coracle press, a ten-panel object detailing most of the fold-out publications produced by them, in the opening lines on the front page – “The concertina-form is always with us quietly, openly presenting its facets to the world. Packed away in a box or awkwardly stacked, or standing almost closed on the bookshelf, it may genuinely be the closest to sculpture the printed artefact ever comes.”

Further publications that have arrived with me this year using this layout include- Cloud Cover, a miniature permutational poem by Greg Thomas (Essence Press), various pieces from Moschatel press, and “Brevfoldslette” by derek beaulieu (Non Plus Ultra), all to be folded and unfolded over time.

For an extensive overview of accordion publications visit Simon Perkins’