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Fine Books and Loyd Haberly

The Haberly Collection by Jim Hetherington – March 28, 2019

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Written, decorated, printed and bound by Loyd Haberly, Again is a joy to behold. A 1953 treasure, every page splashed with color introducing the intriguing typeface telling poetry commands attention. Spanning 26 pages, this copy from the Loyd Haberly Book Arts Collection is one of 50 copies made on a hand-press in the old stone Castle of Fairleigh Dickinson College. Known for printing his books, Haberly taught at Harvard, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Massachusetts, and Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he was professor and dean for 27 years. This specific collection contains over 800 examples of fine press books, as well as works on typography, binding, and illustration. Including his own collection of works on printing history and the private press movement, as well as the books of poetry written, illustrated, printed and bound by Haberly himself, there is a plethora of material to be taken in.

Born in Ellsworth, Iowa, on December 9, 1896, he would have been over 100 years old when I was born. Again is such a clever title as we all have experiences that feel the same, that are nearly a repeat. He kicks off the book with a self-titled poem called “Again” that spans six pages. Atop each page is an original colored-in drawing from a man and deer to gems and an airplane. With a font reminiscent of medieval times scrolls, the words fill the page without it feeling too cluttered (he even has a book called Mediaeval English Pavingtiles). None of the poems spill onto the following page giving a sense of belonging and purpose the way of having the poetry fit together like puzzle pieces. If there are two poems on a page, the top one is always titled in a Christmas red and the bottom titled in a familiar green. Every page feels like it’s a pulpy construction paper, like parchment.

Fancying myself a poet and among more writers in my poetry outreach class on campus, real recognize real. Beyond Again being a sensory experience, as it is handmade, it’s a treat to take it all in and feel how Haberly used his poetic license. Had he been alive I would have cherished speaking on Again and his experiences in life just a campus over. Imagery from “Fangs of ice” to “a buzz the beetle jets” really gets the gears turning. While we won’t be covering more from Loyd Haberly, this is not the last of him. He kept publishing his creations until 1979 just two years before he left us here on Earth. It is awe-inspiring to be keen on a legacy and find another great poet hidden from plain sight here in the archives. Special collections are indeed a treat. Until next week, enjoy the weather!

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