Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands

Manos Sucia cover blog

Traffic Street Press presents Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands

 the sixth title in the Trafficking in Poetry series.


Exhibit extended through February 24, 2019

Saturday, February 9, 12-6 pm
Sunday February 10, 12-5 pm
Saturday/Sunday February 16/17th 12-6 pm
Saturday/Sunday February 23/24th 12-6 pm


Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands, is a collaboration between the visual artist Greg Slick, the poet Seán Monagle and the book artist Paulette Myers-Rich. The poetry is letterpress printed, with pigment printed illustrations on Zerkall book paper and handbound in paper covers in an edition of 30. There will be a limited number of copies available for purchase at the book signing at No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works on Beacon’s Second Saturday, January 12, from 3-8 pm. Greg Slick’s original artworks will be on display, along with supporting materials and books accessible for study, including earlier titles in this series.


Manos Sucia title spread blog


Of her project, Paulette Myers-Rich writes:

I began Traffic Street Press as an artist and poet striving to produce strong personal work, yet along the way I decided to also publish chapbooks for poets I admired whose work was bypassed by gatekeepers. I founded the Trafficking in Poetry series after years of frustration with the distinct lack of representation of poets within mainstream and academic publishing who speak on behalf of marginalized people without condescension. I am an artist and poet from the working class. Blue collar and steel toes. I make these books by hand, using my skills to bring beauty and meaning into the world through voices not typically heard in such forms. Beauty and radical voices are not mutually exclusive- indeed, truth and beauty work hand-in-hand with integrity and respect to offer power and presence to the words. And when certain words hit a nerve with me, I’m willing to set each one, one letter at a time in metal type, print the pages on my No.3 Vandercook cylinder press and bind them all by hand, working long days and late nights to do so. I do this as a labor of devotion to these poets and their readers. “Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands” is the sixth publication in the Trafficking in Poetry Series and the first to be published in Beacon, NY.


Manos Sucia image spread blog


Of his images, Greg Slick writes:

Let us consider “Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands” as both art object and as activism. This project, through its carefully chosen content, composition, papers, and type is an aesthetic encounter. It beckons to be experienced in a time signature suggested by the hand of the paper, the poems’ meters and music, the images’ lines and objects. The form of the book-object itself holds meaning, and in doing so reveals the specifics of that meaning. As activism, Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands raises uncomfortable questions about workers’ rights and employer abuse. In the stanzas and images the nature of work itself comes under scrutiny as we the authors remind ourselves that human life and dignity are at stake.”


Of his poems, Seán Monagle writes:

“Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands” is intended as both an invitation and a provocation. In suggestive relation to their neighboring images, the poems represent the feelings and thoughts of speakers in the mesh and grip of human relations determined by capitalist values and regimes in voices ranging from transparent and compelling to obscure, suggestive and/or repellent. As the images and poems together in this volume suggest, labor is no less fundamentally and profoundly a subjective experience than a social one, obviously of those who have labored, certainly though less obviously even of those who have not. These images, these poems, this book, stand as a challenge to our faculties of sympathy no less than of discernment: that we begin to see the sights and to hear the sounds of human suffering.


In the poem Beck and Call, which opens the volume, a seemingly benevolent voice is offering comfort, but it’s true aim is grooming workers to have full faith in the enterprise with the result that they learn to be satisfied with their compensation despite the tremendous gains reaped by their “superiors.” Within this clear and stated hierarchical structure, cynicism pervades the relationship. The form of buy-in that keeps workers happy with their situation regardless of how exploitative, keeps them passive. Yet when these workers are cut from the ranks, they feel blindsided when they learn their loyalty isn’t reciprocal.


Beck and Call

I come like a shepherd; you are my sheep.
They have betrayed you.  Whom will you trust?
Let my dark song lull you to sleep.

Great is your toil, praise of it cheap.
Find here your rest; abide as you must.
I come like a shepherd; you are my sheep.

With humble demand, your innocence deep,
You offer with heart what is taken with lust.
Let my dark song lull you to sleep.

Yours the Lord’s bounty, a bounty I reap:
your following constant, your numbers not least.
I come like a shepherd; you are my sheep.

Like the spring lamb trusting its keep,
Graze where I lead you, prepare for the feast.
Let my dark song lull you to sleep.

If not you, for whom shall I weep?
My arms are open to first and to last.
Let my dark song lull you to sleep.
I come like a shepherd; you are my sheep.


Of course there are workers who clearly understand the terms of their employment. They know that they’re entirely dependent upon the benevolence of their boss for stability, safety and income. And they know this is a voice not to be trusted, that the relationship is fraught with betrayal and exploitation despite one’s hard work and loyalty, yet they are trapped. The worker is quite aware that, on a whim, one could be cast out, losing everything while their skills and hard work have enriched someone who sees them as expendable.


Manos Sucias/Dirty Hands exists through work ranging from writing, artistic practice and design that incorporates hand skills and simple manual labor. The range of voices and images reflect the ways individuals provide for their needs on levels from working-class to management and attempts to make visible the instability and diminishing returns for those who labor in what we’re calling “the new feudalism.” We, the authors count ourselves among those who have endured these conditions. As artists, our most important job is “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” We present this work as a critique, with hope that these conditions will change.


To see more of Greg Slick’s work visit his website:



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