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Burn Down the Zendo, Michael Hannon 2004

This is the second Ninja Press publication of the poems of Michael Hannon. In these incisive poems the poet juggles the nature of being and not being while simultaneously traversing the shaky quicksand that defines the landscape between the conscious mind and the human heart. As Michael Hannon has written in a recent poem called ‘April,’ the real passes / the unreal endures.

The type is Spectrum with seventy-two point Felix Titling for the display printed in two colors on Japanese gasen-shi. Each text page, from the opening fly to the last poem, is inhabited by an ensō or emp­ty circle. The ensō, an image common to Zen Buddhist art, can mean many things: everything, nothing, unity, the moon or even a rice cake. In this text, the ensō grows in size on each subsequent page, giving the reader the impression of passing through the center of the ensō to the other side. The handmade paper covers are Egyptian tow flax from Cave Paper in Minneapolis, Minnesota and no longer available. The kanji on each cover was done by hand in sumi ink by David Brock. The kanji reads ‘sanzendo,’ and while not idiomatic Japanese, can be read to mean: the Zen meditation hall itself; sitting in meditation in the hall; and/or the periodic question-and-answer session that takes place between Zen student and teacher. The book structure is modeled after ledger books or chō-men, in common use throughout Japan particularly during the Edo period (1603-1868). They were sewn at one short end and kept handy by hanging the book on the wall from its sewn end. The structure for Burn Down the Zendo repeats this historical model and is meant to be hung on the wall as well. Each book is housed in an acrylic slipcase.

There are 110 signed and numbered copies in the edition with 10 lettered hors commerce. 5.75 inches by 15 inches. 13 pages.