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This article is taken from PN Review 236, Volume 43 Number 6, July - August 2017.

Tom Raworth, Incidentally John Wilkinson
A SHELF OF BOOKS by Tom Raworth holds delights not only in poems yet to be discovered, but as an anthology of thoughtful physical design – ranging from what are almost livres d’artiste (Logbook for instance) to the urgencies of obsolete technologies such as mimeograph, to Tom’s last trade book, Carcanet’s As When, maybe the most elegant design in the press’s history. Here, rescued from disappearance behind taller, stouter and thicker books, is Tom Raworth’s Common Sense, inscribed by Tom in April 1977, and as an object it merits formal description:


Tom Raworth, COMMON SENSE, 3 1/2 x 5 1/2’ wire spiral-bound notebook, printed in 10 pt Linotype Optima on blue lined paper, 18 leaves, plus two newsprint endpapers. Front cover is rainbow-colored C-I-S with title in 24 pt Cordon (a rare 19th-century type revived by Carroll and sold to L A Type Founders in 1963). Back cover is cardboard with ‘1.49’ in a circle (a linocut by Myers that looks like a dime store rubber-stamped price). Last leaf has a linocut by Myers of a salt shaker sitting atop two feathers. Three found zincs of business men. (Alastair Johnston, Zephyrus Image. A Bibliography. Berkeley: Poltroon Press 2003, pp. 208–9) [To add to this description – in my copy several pages have red vertical marginal rules.]


The Myers linocut represents ‘a common sense proverb: The way you catch a bird is to salt its tail.’ (Johnston, p. 117) This puzzling proverb (my common sense doesn’t come up to it) is explained by Farmer’s Almanac: ...


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