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:



Light in the Darkness


Winter Snow Streetlights small

New Poetry & Photobooks for Winter Days


Opens Saturday, December 8th, 12-8 pm
On view Sunday, December 9th, 12-5 pm
Saturdays and Sundays, noon-6 pm
Wednesdays, 7-9 pm by appointment
Fridays noon-6 pm 
Through January 6th, 2019


December is the darkest month, when we dwell indoors and search for comforts against the cold. We begin to miss our dear ones and other habitats, so by the time the holidays arrive we are quite ready for outings, contact and news.

Of news, what is poetry but that which brings insights and truth, even if imaginary? What is a photobook but illuminations of places you’ve never been and the faces of total strangers that become increasingly more intimate and familiar with each reading?

This month’s selections include rare and out-of-print books, along with new selections from independent presses producing fascinating works that take you out of place and time, or illuminates the time and place you find yourself in. And, as this is the gifting season, there are an abundance of new and rare poetry and photobooks available for purchase at all price points, including local presses and international publishers.


The Floods book

The Floods by Joseph Wright


Juanan Requena book

Al Borde De Todo Mapa by Juanan Requena







New Poetry Titles from Wave Books


If you get cabin fever this month, come visit the Reading Room and browse. If you need something extraordinary and luminous for yourself or a loved one, there are many new experiences waiting for you and yours. It’s cozy and warm and the lights are on in the darkness. And for the month of December, I’ve added extra hours, especially for locals who don’t have to travel very far to get far away.

PBW at night


 Recent Small Press Poetry & Photobooks in Close and Unexpected Proximity


13213_15.17.tifPassengers by John Schabel

Opens Saturday, November 10, 12-8 pm
On view Sunday, November 11, 12-5 pm
Saturdays and Sundays noon- 6 pm
Fridays by appointment.
Through December 2nd, 2018


An overheard bit of conversation, a glimpse of a face on a passing subway car, words exchanged with a stranger on an elevator, or in line. We are placed in random proximities with others on a daily basis, yet how often do we stop to consider them beyond the moment, or allow a deeper connection? Sometimes, when we do, these encounters lead to life altering relationships. Other times, we never see that person again despite being left with a deep impression and possible longing. So much of what we experience of others happens at a distance.

Take for example the photobook Passengers by John Schabel (Twin Palms Publishers, 2011). There is no text except for acknowledgements and publishing information at the very end. About this book, the writer Laura M. Andre writes:

John Schabel’s series of photographs depicting anonymous airline passengers effectively captures the curious blend of impersonal efficiency and poignant humanity that pervades the experience of contemporary commercial air travel. Like products on an assembly line, the planes carrying Schabel’s subjects churn down the runway; and with the same regularity the individual passengers emerge, identically framed, from his camera and onto the gallery wall. Interestingly, it is precisely this mechanized process that lays bare the active, but often overlooked, emotional and intellectual relationship between human beings and flight.”

As a reader, however, the book creates an intimate space in which I become closer with each individual presented. They must have no idea their image exists in this body of work and the photographer doesn’t know who these people are, so anonymity is nearly assured. Because of this, my gaze- indeed, my stare, is not imposed on them in real time which permits me a voyeuristic, but also sympathetic human connection as I look at each face framed in an airplane window. In flight and on their way somewhere unknown, the image offers up all kinds of speculation, which can be based simply on their expression, or on my projection of all the feelings I’ve had when traveling, which allows me to make that leap to a bond with a complete stranger. Our shared humanity makes it possible to develop the empathy that, in times like these is an important condition made possible through viewing this book.

Another book of random portraits is the unusual and disconcerting Unspeaking Likeness by Arne Svenson, also published by Twin Palms in 2016.  Compiled as “a series of images of forensic facial reconstruction sculptures … (made) shortly after an unidentified corpse (or part thereof) is found, a forensic artist constructs an artificial face made of clay or plaster to better aid in victim identification.”

Unspeaking Likeness by Arne Svenson

The proximities of each person in this book are arbitrary. Their only common bond is their death, probably through violence, with names unknown and remaining anonymous until a reconstruction of their remains produces a face in a state of frozen animation waiting for someone to recognize the approximation and return its selfhood. Chilling and deeply moving all at once, gazing at these faces engenders a sadness and pain, as each likeness is a story with a fatal outcome and the hope of a prolonged mystery solved for loved ones, or justice for the victim by those charged with seeking it. It’s not easy to view, but I find it profound when considering the meaning of existence.

The photo and poetry books on display in the Reading Room offer numerous chance encounters through various combinations and readings. Curation is given over to instinct and the seeming randomness of the piles of new books on my archive table. Some photobooks contain portraits, some are of landscapes, some are conceptual, some are documentary. The poetry selections are some old favorites with new discoveries to be read and considered in proximity and relationship to each other.

Consider the poem Dear Sir or Madam by Dessa in relation to the above two books:

We changed your name while you were sleeping,
you’ll find your new one on the form that you’ll receive at lunch.

You’ll be given a numbered pound of steam
and a tool which may reveal its purpose to you
or not
in which case it is a handweight.
Please mind it,
we regret that we cannot issue another
in the event that you misplace it.

There will be other people seated at your table,
we ask that you cultivate a fellow feeling.
Toward the people seated at the other tables
you may develop any attitude you like.

Sensation will be almost constant.
Patterns will emerge, some significant, some by sheer and simple chance.
You’ll receive the full agenda at the end of the conference
at which point, you’ll be asked to exit through the second door
and hang your pound of steam on the hook provided.

( From the volume A Pound of Steam, Rain Taxi, 2013)

There are many other possible connections to be made between works published by A Brother in Elysium Press, Gnomic Books, Doublecross Press, Ugly Ducking Press, Rain Taxi, photographers Ronnie Farley, Kate Orne, Raymond Meeks, Tim Carpenter and others. One actual connection is the Hudson Valley, home to several of the presses, writers and artists on display. Come in and take a chance- read, discover and make some new connections of your own.



Reverse Punctuation Constellations  

A collaboration between artist Melissa McGill

and writer Sam Anderson

Opens Saturday, October 13, 12-8 pm
On view Saturdays & Sundays 12-6 pm
Fridays by appointment, through November 4th, 2018

McGill image

          Eridanus (a-RID-a-nuss)  The river constellation   2016    (detail)


No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works is pleased to present works from Melissa McGill’s Constellation project, a large-scale sculptural installation that was installed around the ruins of Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island in the Hudson river near Beacon from June 2015October 2017.

 On view will be five works from the Reverse Punctuation Constellationsseries, a collaboration with the writer Sam Anderson who responded to Melissa’s public art project via typewritten quotes and original pieces. McGill marked the verso of the typewritten pages with graphite, pastel, watercolor, Sumi ink and charcoal, then punched out the periods, punctuation, pauses and/or spaces in the written works with a Japanese hole punch, creating new constellations resulting in two-sided pieces that are illuminated when light shines through the work.

Four of the series are framed with the painted side facing, yet the presence of the text and the “constellation” offer a strong presence with the text telegraphing in relief from behind, as though through clouds. There will be one piece that is specially framed to reveal both sides, along with full color postcards and votives of the island and castle ruin with laser-cut stars of Constellation transforming the two-dimensional image into a luminous experience when lit from behind (all are available for viewing and purchase).

Also available will be limited copies of McGill’s book Constellationby Princeton Architectural Press. A reader’s copy will be on hand, as well as books by several writers who have contributed to the text. Poets Richard Blanco, Tracy K. Smith, Edwin Torres and Jeffrey Yang, along with other authors who have contributed to, inspired or informed the Constellation project will also be available for viewing in the Reading Room.

Come celebrate the opening day of this new exhibit on Beacon’s Second Saturday, October 13th, open from noon- 8 pm, up through November 4th.






Photo compositions by Donna Turner

also featuring photo books, digital video
& concrete poetry by various artists.
Opens September 8, 12-8 pm
On view Saturdays & Sundays 12-6 pm and by appointment
through October 7th


September will be devoted to pattern in photography. Inspired by the kaleidoscopic images created by Donna Turner for Beacon’s Windows on Main St. project, we’ve brought her work into the reading room where individual elements of her larger construction can be viewed in detail.

Also on view are photo books by several photographers who employ or present pattern in their image making. Whether it’s observations of patterns in nature, random aspects of the built environment that give way to patterns, or patterns constructed by various mechanical means, the visual connections between these artists are fascinating and poetic.

And despite my “no screens” tendencies in the Reading Room, I’m delighted to present a variety of digital videos I’ve collected over the years that relate to the analog books on display. I was once a young experimental filmmaker on a similar path and am thrilled to see the sophisticated visual work done by contemporary media artists and how this new digital visual experimentation and its analog predecessors have strong correspondences. A revelation, and relevant to be viewed in context with these photo books.

There are some hands-on, interactive offerings to enjoy and supporting materials available for deeper dives into the world of pattern on display, so give yourself extra time to fully engage with this installation devoted to this special form of visual poetry.



No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works will be on a summer break from August 12-September 8th, when we will reopen with an installation of newly acquired poetry and photobook projects from small, independent and micro presses. We’re also participating in Beacon’s 13th annual Windows on Main St., a project of Beacon Arts, featuring the photographs of Donna Turner.



Purgatory Pie Press: 40 Years & Counting

A celebratory exhibition of the renowned Purgatory Pie Press’s 40+ year partnership of Dikko Faust & Esther K Smith
On view from July 14 – August 11, 2018
Opening: Beacon’s Second Saturday, July 14, 12 – 8 pm
Closing: Beacon’s Second Saturday, August 11, 12 – 8 pm
Hours:  Sunday, July 15, 12 pm – 5 pm
Saturdays/Sundays July 21 through August 11,  12 pm – 6 pm

Due to the rarity of this artwork and mature content of many works on view, this exhibit is intended for adult viewers. Works on display may not handled by visitors, but may be shown by the gallery attendant by request. 

Contact to make an appointment or if you have any questions.

PPP@BAT_April VolmerPortraitPPP’s Dikko Faust & Esther K Smith  Photograph by April Vollmer

PPP books

Purgatory Pie Press began in 1977 in Madison, Wisconsin when Dikko Faust pied (spilled) an overfilled job case of 8-point Century Oldstyle metal type. Dikko sorted that type for weeks, made his first two books and the paper for his third, and moved to New York City. In 1980 Dikko Faust married Esther K Smith and Purgatory Pie Press merged with the EK Smith Museum, a museum of found art, including The Apron Collection. Their wedding invitation was their first print collaboration. Dikko Faust uses letterpress as an experimental relief printmaking medium. Artistic director, Esther K Smith comes up with projects, designs structures, edits words, and stitches books. making limited editions and artist books. For some projects, they collaborate with other artists and writers. Faust and Smith bounce things back and forth. Starting with production limits–press size, paper size, number of colors/printings, they talk about approaches, Esther scribbles something on paper. Dikko hand-sets wood and metal type and proofs the words. Smith cuts up the proofs and pushes elements around on paper the size of the finished piece. Dikko arranges that design on the press and proofs it. They tweak spacing, try colors and papers. An accident can solve a design problem.

One night, researching on-line for his CUNY Non-Western Art History class, Dikko had EUREKA! moment. He saw a 3-color pattern in the oldest known wall-painting (c.9000 BC!) He began drawing this pattern on every available surface, set it in type–and his tesselation series began.



IMG_7519 copyDikko in his new studio in the Brooklyn Army Terminal.         Photograph by April Vollmer


Esther K Smith’s How to Make Books, (Random House 2007) is now a classic text for teaching and learning book art basics and remains one of the most popular books on making books. With charming designs and illustrations, Esther guides makers through the steps for various forms while encouraging originality and experimentation. Magic Books, (Potter Craft, a division of Random House 2008), offers instructions for a variety of more complex books such as accordion books, pop-ups, map books and other forms, with clear instructions for the beginner. Limited copies of these two books will be available for sale and signing the evening of the opening.



Esther’s sixth and most recent book is the fabulous facsimile copy of Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, Etc. (Rizzoli International Publications (2017). Originally published as a catalogue for William H. Page’s Connecticut wood type foundry, considered one of the best in the world in it’s day, this 1874 type specimen book features elaborate display typefaces meant for eye-catching posters and advertisements. Long out of print and rare, Esther’s 21st Century edition with essays and history, will be featured in the July 14th Second Saturday workshop at the Traffic Street Press studio adjoining No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works. (See below for details).

Chrmoatic Wood Type Cover Smith



Limited copies of Esther K Smith’s book arts books will be available for purchase and signing at the opening, along with Purgatory Pie Press limited editions,  small works, subscription series postcards, artist books, posters and prints from their archive.

Faust and Smith travel as visiting artists, lecturing, demonstrating, and making collaborative projects in art centers and universities. Faust teaches letterpress at School of Visual Arts, NYC.  Smith had taught the long-running Artist Books course at Cooper Union–and now offers workshops at museums and for small groups and highly qualified individual artists. After decades in Tribeca, their studio has just re-located to the landmarked Cass Gilbert Brooklyn Army Terminal, accessible by ferry among other forms of transportation.

Purgatory Pie Press limited editions are collected in public and private rare book libraries throughout the world including: Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA Museum of Modern Art, Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Walker, SF MoMA, Tate, V&A Victoria & Albert, London, Miniature Book Museum Azerbaijan, Baku, Yale, Harvard, Smith College, New York Public Library Spenser Collection, University of Washington, University of Puget Sound, University of Ohio, and of course, in the archive of No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works.

Solo exhibitions include libraries at V&A, Metropolitan Museum, Athens (NY) Art Center, Pratt Institute, School of Visual Arts, Cooper Union, Ermitage Gransee (Berlin), Asheville Bookworks.

Esther and Dikko will be present in the Reading Room July, 14th from 1–8 pm to chat and sign books. A special studio workshop/demo will also take place on Saturday, July 14. See details below. Don’t miss this special opportunity to see this amazing work and meet the artists! 


Second Saturday Workshop: Wood Type, Chromatic Wood Type and its history

chromatic wood type

DES Chromatic Type

Please join Esther K Smith, Dikko Faust and Paulette Myers-Rich at Traffic Street Press, 469 Main St., Beacon, NY, for an hour-long in-studio demonstration and discussion of how wood type and color is used in the letterpress printing process for signage and broadsides, with special attention paid to the use and history of chromatic wood type. Attendees will receive a signed copy of the broadside printed during the demonstration, which will also be for sale later in the evening. Space is limited to six participants each session, first come first served. Please register by July 12.

Two sessions will be held on Saturday, July 14th

Session 1:  9:00-10:00 am

Session 2: 10:30-11:30 am

Cost: $200

Please indicate which session you prefer or if either is fine and you will be notified if there is a space available upon inquiry. Payment in full reserves your seat; Register by email inquiry at:





Here Now There Then Mississippi River

Bernice Ficek-Swenson

Color Photogravure Etchings & Artist Book

On view from June 9 – July 8, 2018
Opening: Beacon’s Second Saturday, June 9, 5-8 pm
Artist talk, Sunday, June 10 6pm



No.3 Reading Room & Photo Book Works is pleased to host Bernice Ficek-Swenson’s stunning color photogravure etchings and artist book from her Here Now There Then series. Of this work, Bernice writes:

“Why do we collect stones? They sit in our gardens, window sills and in our jean jackets.  Is it a memory keepsake? A talisman connecting us to primordial earth? Part of a collective unconscious? I collect stones and have used them in my imagery for over 25 years. This interest began as a 20-year-old map drafter working with geologists in New Mexico where I held a stone from the moon in my right palm. That moment was a revelation that enlarged my perception of time and space. Since then my artistic explorations have expanded to use stones as a metaphor suggesting not just landscape, but environment touched by human presence.

Prehistoric megalithic sites like the Stones of Stenness and Ring of Brodgar in the Scottish Orkney Islands, the Medicine Wheel in northern Wyoming and contemporary Land Art, such as Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty have long intrigued me. I’ve traveled to many of these locations and continue to be inspired by the meaning and the geometric arrangements of these sites. The Here Now There Then and related Stone Voices project began after a “pilgrimage” /research trip to Carnac on the French Brittany coast where I walked alongside 3000 Neolithic standing stones in alignment.  These stone rows, circles, menhirs and dolmens cover miles of terrain and are older than the pyramids.

Here Now There Then is a suite of 6 stones that represent a specific geologic feature or suggests a historic significance. The stones are borrowed from places like the headwaters of the Mississippi, an exposed mantle of the earth in Newfoundland, a D-Day Beach, Pompeii, and Varanasi, the cremation site on the Ganges River.

Related to this suite of photogravures is Stone Voices.  This artist book offers photographic and written reflections of 12 stones with narratives written by six contributors that portray the history or a memory-description of each landscape visited. Accompanying three accordion books are geological descriptions of each stone, a copper plate photogravure and letterpress printed title page, colophon, and essay by Minneapolis writer, Robert Silberman.”

Stone Voices book 1

Stone Voices book 2

Concept, photographs and direction, Bernice Ficek-Swenson; Design collaboration, Joanne Price and Bernice Ficek-Swenson. Stone Voices, consists of three accordion books and a folio housed inside a clothbound clamshell box. Each book contains four archival photographic images. Related narrative text is printed on translucent paper. Included in the folio is a copper plate photogravure and letterpress printed title page, colophon, and essay by Robert Silberman. A photographic grid of the stones and geologic descriptions complete the concept. Hand-signed by the artist and designer in a limited edition of 12, 2017. Book, 10 x 8 in.; box, 11 1/8 x 9 x 3 in.


Bernice will give an artist talk on Sunday, June 10 at 6 pm at 469 Main St. Free and open to the public, seating is limited and reservations are required. Please contact to reserve and for further information.