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Richard Denner, poet, founder and sole operator of his own press, D-press, is a maker of beautiful little books. One calls them “little” without condescension because they are chapbooks, of various dimensions, each worthy of contemplation as an object in itself, and also as an example of what can be done by way of self-publication if one is ingenious enough. Denner has made a place for himself as an artist while remaining entirely outside the mainstream—a possibility for which we have few examples. Designed on a computer screen with the aid of a color copier, his dazzling books require no special technique, expense, or equipment. Even as an illustrator Denner tends to favor media—collage, linoleum block—which needn’t intimidate the novice, and he steals from others (in line drawing, from Cocteau and Matisse) so unabashedly that theft becomes a resource.
Whatever is dubious about this—self-publication, minimal craft, plagiarism—falls before the authority of the books themselves, with their certitude, vitality, and evident integrity. (To see for yourself, go to the D-press website). The process of making books has become for Denner an integral part of the creative process of writing poems. Denner does not first write the book and then make the cover; the book and its contents are created at the same time. “In the early letter press editions, I wrote some of the poems right in the type case, utilizing the limitations of the size of the type and type case (how much poem can one print in a 4x5 inch area using 60 pt Bodoni bold)? Now that I use a computer, I pour my poems directly into the book using a publisher file, many poems evolving by their placement in series...” Much about Denner’s approach recalls another artist for whom pictorial and poetic ideas were born together in the imagination, William Blake. Blake invented a new method engraving in order to be able to combine it with letter-press printing, unifying the two processes into a single act of creation, as Richard has done with his computer.
Denner, Richard, "The Collected Books of Richard Denner Volume 1" (2003). High Mountain Valley Local Authors Collection Online Content. 14.
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