In Praise of Colophons
A poem by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Aimee Nezhukumatathil, colophon, typography, type design, Carolyn Porter, P22 Marcel, monk, France, letter cutting, Marcel's Letters
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In Praise of Colophons

In Praise of Colophons


Just when I think I’m finished reading my book,
I turn the last page and find that the lettering
of this softened paperback was first cut
by a monk in 1739, just off the Northern coast
of France. How delightful, this production
by the sea——no talking, only the small splashes
of wave against rock, a plover’s squawk,
the metal plink of each letter into the carriage.


Another book states that in spite of the youthful age
of Berling Roman‘s typeface, it carries an old face’s
personality: the serifs thick and blunt, inclined,
and most importantly, the g has a straight ear.
How I’d love to pinch its bulbous nose! The tufts
of silver silk hair like a low crown around its head!


My favorite colophon reports that another monk
designed Carlyle over two centuries ago. Its letters
sit round and open as fishbowls on a windowsill.
The balance so delicate, one strong wind
could spill the glass and its slippery contents
across the stone floor. O, but the light in each
watery leaf, the small transparencies in those fins——
the arc of orange fish that leap and leap and leap.

–Aimee Nezhukumatathil


Thanks to friend and fellow writer/graphic designer Shari Albers for sending this poem my way!