At the end of 2001, I looked back on the fifty books that Timberline Press had published since beginning in 1975. Not a large number of publications for twenty-six years, but when one considers nearly all of the fifty books were completely produced by hand–handset letterpress printed on manual presses and then handstitched and bound–fifty is a more impressive number. The printing and designing were major reasons for the creation of the press. The other main reasons were the love of poetry and the desire to provide an outlet for writers. I was able to combine these so that I could print good poetry in an attractive book for a reasonable price. That has been the guiding principle of Timberline Press these twenty-seven years.
Although I had originally proposed to publish poetry drawing its imagery, rhythms, and themes from the natural world and many of Timberline’s publications have done so,* I soon decided that any poetry that is sincere and well-crafted would receive a sympathetic reading. As a result, our publications have ranged from works like William Heyen’s Annuli (2001), a mystical-ecological meditation on turtles, to Emily Borenstein’s Night of the Broken Glass (1981) and Charles Fishman’s The Death Mazurka (1987), two moving collections of Holocaust poetry. The latter two have been among the more successful books from the press, with Fishman’s book being selected as a book of the year by Choice, the American Library Association journal. Being started in the Southwest and now headquartered in the Midwest, Timberline has always promoted regional literature, often with great success. Jim Bogan’s Ozark Meandering (1999), a mixture of poetry and prose celebrating the people and land of the Ozarks, and Walter Bargen’s trilogy--Yet Other Waters (1990), The Vertical River (1996), and Water Breathing Air (1999)–have done well. Both writers are well known in Missouri, and they deserve wider recognition.
Since printing and print-making helped draw me into publishing, the design and graphics of a book are very important. Whether the main design feature is just a well-composed appropriate typeface or more elaborate illustrations, the harmonious blending of literary message and graphic design is Timberline’s goal. I use various print methods for the illustrations: linocuts, etching, and silkscreening and sometimes zinc-cuts from line drawings.
Timberline Press’s logo or device, to use the more correct printing term, is a “W” with a stylized fir tree atop the middle peak of the letter. The “W” refers to my name and symbolizes a mountain range associated with the timberline, further referred to by the tree. Besides reflecting the Western roots of the Press–the idea of the press was conceived in the late 1960's in New Mexico–the timberline suggests heights and rareness.
For more information about Timberline Press, write for a copy of a historical catalog that traces the development and describes the publications from 1975 through 2001 (Timberline Press, 6281 Red Bud, Fulton, MO 65251). Timberline has no website or e-mail address; after all, we still use letterpress.
*To satisfy my love of literature about the natural world, Timberline created the Cedar Tick Natural History Series of short essays of natural history in 1988. Five booklets have been published in that series.