Random Reports is the ongoing publication series begun in 2006 by artist Barbara Henry, who works under the press name Harsimus Press. Harsimus is the native Lenape word for her neighborhood in Jersey City, where her press/home/studio is located.
Each issue of Random Reports consists of a set of poems constructed out of vocabulary lists compiled from the first section of the New York Times. The poems are titled with the date of the paper that they originated from, handset in metal type, letterpress printed, and accompanied with hand carved illustrations. They are all bound in simple handmade stiff paper covers.
Random Reports are simple, elegant, and are a lovely use of things that are obsolete to comment on things that are current. They are some of my most favorite books that I own.
These books are a reflection of years of practice of a set group of hand skills; of a long-established tradition of poets writing and publishing their own words (Walt Whitman, Anaïs Nin, Virginia Woolf are a short list of the many examples); and of a commitment to a very particular kind of medium.
Barbara Henry had been printing letterpress books by hand for many years and served as the curator of the collection at Bowne & Co. Stationers, a functioning replica of a nineteenth century printshop in the South Street Seaport here in Manhattan for over twenty years. She is an expert in nineteenth-century type, hand composition, and many other secrets of the letterpress arts. She is less agile in the digital realm, which is why I cannot unfortunately link to her website, though she understands that this is something she should tackle in the future.
Barbara says of the series: “The last issue was Cries and there is now a large backlog of unpublished material. I have listed each book of the original series (1-3) as $75. RR4-Extra and Cries are $50. I think I still have copies of everything, but I may have to do some binding. They are all bound in paper, with tackets. There is an offshoot of Random Reports in 2 volumes: Noise and Now. These are also NY Times-based poems but with a different method. I plan to do another RR after I finish the project I am working on now.”
You can purchase copies of Random Reports directly from Barbara herself, by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.