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Barbarian Press
Books in Print


Wood engraving by Colin Paynton
(from The Chimes, 1985)

Fifty-six Ontological Studies
Poems by Jan Zwicky | Photographs by Robert Moody
May 2020

Ursus typographicus:
a Chronology of Bears

December 2017

Endgrain Editions 4
Simon Brett – An Engraver’s Progress

2013/2014

Cover scan

Click on thumbnail image above
for additional images

Fifty-six Ontological Studies

Poems by Jan Zwicky | Photographs by Robert Moody

May 2020

Jan Zwicky has published several volumes of poetry, winning the Governor General’s Award for Poetry in 1999 for Songs for Relinquishing the Earth and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize in 2004 for Robinson’s Crossing, which was also shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award. In 2012 Forge was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize. Her books Lyric Philosophy and Wisdom and Metaphor (which was shortlisted for the 2004 Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction) are luminous additions to modern philosophy and aesthetics. She is Professor Emerita of Philosophy at the University of Victoria. She is also – as will be apparent from the lyric grace of her poems – an accomplished musician. In 2000 we published Jan Zwicky’s 21 Small Songs, her first published collection of poems after winning the GG. It seemed about time that we caught up with her again, and we are delighted.

Jan shares this book with Robert Moody. As well as being a celebrated photographer, Robert Moody is an acclaimed mathematician and Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, whose work has concentrated on the mathematics of symmetry. In 2014 Robert Moody collaborated with Jan Zwicky on Vittoria Colonna - Selections from the Rime Spirituali, a volume of translations and photographs published by Porcupine’s Quill.

It is important to realize that Fifty-six Ontological Studies is not a book of poems illustrated with photographs, but a group of reflections on essences in verse and image. The two modes of reflection are entirely co-equal: as one moves through the pages of the book one slips among the verbal and the non-verbal, much as a bird slips between the branches of a tree, landing on one, gliding over another.

The characters of both poems and photographs are distilled, singular, and exquisite.

Some Comments By Readers

I love folio-sized private press books as much as the next guy but sometimes they inhibit spontaneous handling; volumes like this one and the Cavafy are proof of your commitment to making beautiful but eminently readable editions. Congratulations also to Apollonia on her work on this.
L. Schroeder, Subscriber

Fifty-six Ontological Studies arrived today. What a happy surprise! It looks a lovely volume indeed . . . a mix of poetry, philosophy, photography, mathematics and fine workmanship – what a wonderful combination!
Bruce MacKeen, Subscriber

Fifty-six Ontological Studies is royal octavo (10½ by 6½ inches), 84pp, with a Bradel, or German case, binding, with printed paper over boards. It is published in a single state in an edition of 120 copies. The text type is Van Dijck, the paper Zerkall Soft White with the photographs, printed by the photographer on Hahnemühle Rice Paper, tipped in.
PRICE: C$450.