Recent Acquisitions | October 2013

Ball, Nelson and Barbara Caruso. Points of Attention. Toronto: Weed/Flower Press, 1971.

I’ve coveted this book for years now, and finally have a copy on my shelf. Points of Attention was published in 1971 as a collaboration between Barbara Caruso and Nelson Ball in a tiny edition of 50 copies. Typesetting was done at Coach House and printing was done by the Bell Offset Company. It includes eleven poems by Ball, and six serigraphs by Caruso. My copy is number 20 of 50 (and each serigraph is similarly numbered 20/50). My copy does not have the two information slips originally issued, headed “The Poet” and “The Artist” according to Nicky Drumbolis in Nelson Ball Cited.

Points of Attention

Points of Attention 1

According to Kay Kritzwiser in the Globe and Mail (“The beautiful small books from Ball and Caruso,” 16 February 1972), “Points of Attention is their major production. It’s a rarely beautiful hard-cover book, limited to an edition of 50, of which 40 are for sale…the six silkscreen prints tipped into each edition of Points of Attention have an uncanny understanding of pure color relationships…”

Points of Attention 4

Points of Attention 2

Points of Attention is a nice companion piece to Ball’s 1970 Coach House collection The Pre-Linguistic Heights. The Pre-Linguistics Heights has a cover design by Barbara that is clearly a related piece of artwork to the serigraphs in Points of Attention.

pre linguistic 1

pre linguistic 2

The first volume of her published journals, A Painter’s Journey: 1966-1973 (Toronto: Mercury Press, 2005), details the collaboration. The first mention of the book comes on April 19, 1971: “We are working toward a book of poems and prints. Nelson suggests Points of Attention for the title. He is working on the layout now. I have begun drawings toward prints.” Barbara began printing the serigraphs on May 16, 1971, and finished the printing on May 28. Her journals reveal her tremendous labour and attention to detail—printing editions of between 60-75 of each print to ensure 50 clean copies, redesigning and reprinting two of the prints, and re-arranging their order in the book multiple times. The book went to the binders on July 2, 1971. It was finished and in their hands by the time Barbara returned to her journal on July 14: “After getting advice on how to price it from Marty [Ahvenus] ($50), Jim Lowell (17.50) and Jack Pollock ($75), Nelson decided on $47.50. Thirteen copies have gone out already and we have sales on four more. Nelson is still tipping in the prints” (127). The project was completed in time for their trip to Europe, funded by the Canada Council grant each received in 1971, and a copy was brought along to show art galleries and bookstores during their three months of travel.


Truhlar, Richard. Nicky Drumbolis Interview. Toronto: ROOM 3o2 BOOKS, 1990.

Drumbolis, Nicky. Let Literature Language. Toronto: CURVD H&Z 351, 1987.

Two Nicky Drumbolis items picked up recently from jwcurry. The interview by recently-deceased Richard Truhlar is enlightening, and says things about bookselling that I have been struggling to articulate in my ongoing dissertation proposal, including the notion of “contributive bookselling” wherein “the bookseller acts a kind of cultural…what?…midwife or traffic cop or something like this & not only stocks books but somehow contextualizes what he or she knows/has at his or her command.” He argues for a sense of responsibility on the part of the bookseller to the books, to the community, and to the history of small press. This should be required reading for anyone who sells or handles books.


Let Literature Language is a beautiful (and obscenity-filled) poem. This is the second edition of a poem originally published by Drumbolis himself through Letters in 1986. The CURVD H&Z hand-stamped process is something to aspire to in terms of the commitment to, labour in the service of, the work being published—“sheer fuckn majesty”.


above/ground press 20th anniversary fetish object. Ottawa: above/ground press, 2013.

Published on the occasion of the 20th anniversary celebration of above/ground press (23 August 2013 at the Mercury Lounge in Ottawa), the “fetish object” is stunning. Christine McNair performed the labour, detailed as followed: “All broadsides lightly trimmed by the butcherous bookbinder and collected into an edition of ten. Each set is housed in a leather and paper slipcase. Slipcase was covered in weathered calf-skin with laid paper sides and was fancied into being by Christine McNair.” If you missed this on the night, you truly missed out. At the price they were selling it, I should have bought two, but that would have been greedy as there were only 10 produced. I snagged copy 2 by dumb luck.

fetish object 1

The set includes 31 “poem” broadsides, and touches on the huge range of aesthetic and poetic interests rob has nurtured over twenty years. Poems from Marilyn Irwin, Jamie Bradley, Pearl Pirie, Sandra Ridley, Gwendolyn Guth and others show some of the Ottawa community represented, while poems from Stephanie Bolster, derek beaulieu, George Bowering, Phil Hall, Gil McElroy and others show how above/ground managed to reach beyond the city.

fetish colophon

Also included is a bibliography of the 332 “poem” broadsides published up to the date that the “fetish object” came into existence.

fetish biblio

I’ve still got copies of the extended interview with rob mclennan about the history of above/ground press that I published through Apt. 9 this past August as well. Copies can be purchased online here, or in person at the Ottawa Small Press Book Fair this coming Saturday.


Not a book, but there is also this wonderful 50-minute Jim Bryson concert up at VIMEO, performed in someone’s living room in Yellowknife. Wish we’d been there, but its got us pretty excited for his annual Black Sheep Inn Christmas Show.

Published by Cameron Anstee

Cameron Anstee lives and writes in Ottawa ON where he runs Apt. 9 Press and is pursuing a PhD in English Literature at the University of Ottawa.

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