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This report is taken from PN Review 174, Volume 33 Number 4, March - April 2007.

The Tern Press R.K.R. Thornton

A month or so ago I visited St Mary's Cottage in Market Drayton, the home of Nicholas and Mary Parry and their Tern Press. I had known them and their stunning books for some years, meeting them at the annual John Clare Festival in summer, and fingering their rich productions. This time, I was so strongly struck by the visual impact of text and image that when shortly afterwards I visited the main summer exhibition at the Wordsworth Museum in Grasmere, The Solitude of Mountains: Constable and the Lake District, I couldn't help feeling a strange vacancy in some of Constable's sketches. They were elegant, spontaneous, full of life, impressively fluent, but the long landscape format seemed to be missing something. It finally dawned on me what that was. It was words. The images had similar proportions to those of the books - two open pages - but there were no words to balance against the picture. I was reminded of John Clare's lines in 'Pleasures of Spring' where the clown looks at the beauties of spring and feels

Joys of the soul which nature prompts to seek
The all of poetry but its power to speak.

This may not be everybody's response. Indeed, it wasn't Nick Parry's, who was horrified that I should not see in his admired Constable the masterful use of space. Nonetheless, I am a word-oriented individual, as I imagine many of the readers of this journal ...


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