Red Wing: Poetry, one letter at a time

Typeset letters
Letters set into words are waiting to be sent to the press.
MPR photo/Marc Sanchez

A hissing, pumping printing press yields to the tiny click-clack of typesetting at Scott King's Red Dragonfly Press. King's shop is set up at the Anderson Center in Red Wing.

When you enter his light-filled studio, you're greeted with sheets of poetry hanging on racks, waiting to dry. There's a collection of antique typesetting machines, a printing press and a bunch of individual letters in various fonts.

Red Dragonfly Press is made up of mostly poetry chap books, which King lovingly assembles by hand. He starts out small, placing by hand each letter, each punctuation mark and all the spaces between words. He works line by line, until the pages are filled.

Then it's off to the press, which takes the letters that King has assembled and imprints them on to paper, with ink. The whole process seems slow, but meditative. King uses a lot of love and a little elbow grease to make it happen.

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