Category Archives: Poetry

The name “Painted Tongue” reflects a marriage between imagery and the written word. Some of our participants enjoy sharing their poetry from time to time, particularly when it relates to the artwork.

Our Bill Denham & Bettina Pauly read at the Zen Center

On Friday, April 2nd from 7:30 to 9:00 – San Francisco Zen Center, 300 Page Street, San Francisco, California. 415-863-3136

There is a special presentation during the exhibition opening of the al-Mutanabbi Street Broadside project at the San Francisco Zen Center. Two of our artists and printers, Bill Denham and Bettina Pauly, will be among the readers.

Bill will be sharing The Diameter of the Bomb, a poem by Yehuda Amichai, translated by Chana Block. A broadside of this poem was designed and illustrated by Kim Vanderheiden, and printed and assembeled by Bill. It’s an interactive piece. A ring of black rays hug the poem and image. To view them, the reader must unfold the rays, exploding the broadside.

Bettina Pauly will be reading a translation from Abdul Satar, shown in the documentary: A Candle for the Shabandar Cafe, Baghdad, 2007, which corresponds with her broadside – a powerful piece that’s been two years in the making. It features testimony about the bombing in Arabic and English, with a hole carefully burned out of the center, between the two languages. Across the hole, the broadside is stitched back together.

Both are very powerful pieces, and are on display at the Zen Center, along with 130 other works commemorating the 2007 package bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street – a street of booksellers in Baghdad; a street renown intellectual exploration and freedom of thought and speech.

The event is free and open to the public. Donations and purchases of broadsides benefit Doctors Without Borders.


Letterpress Printing in Hard Times

Recently we had a little fun with a Bailout business card promotion and we did make a little money with our fun and learned a few things, as well.

This economic crisis we are in, however, is no fun.

It is serious and though one can always use humor to help get through hard times, humor, generally, for small businesses does not pay the rent.

So I’ve been thinking, lately, about letterpress printing, which is not unusual for me, being a printer and loving it the way I do, I do think about it a lot.

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The Heidelberg

The Heidelberg


I had one of those weeks

on the Heidelberg—

the kind that can only happen

two or three or more years in,

when one knows a little more of what one’s looking at,

after hours and hours and hours of trial and error,

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From the Printer Poet

Spoken Word Poetry and Paper Sculptures


Mary Oliver says,
Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand,
this, too, was a gift.
from The Uses of Sorrow by Mary Oliver

I know exactly what she means. Darkness, the kind she’s talking about, is there, along with the light, as surely as night follows day. Wendell Berry says the same thing, in his way,

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Isabel and The Printer

This poem was written by Bill, our Head of Production, as he was printing a birth announcement for little Isabel. Her mom is one of our clients.

Isabel’s  tiny hands and feet
have found a permanent place
somewhere, down there in my heart.
I have studied them with such care and intensity,
bringing them to life (again)
with just the right shade of pink,
delicately debossed into the crisp elegance
of the rough textured, heavy, fine art paper—
her chubby little left foot, slightly crooked right pinky,
and on her right foot, the nerve-like cluster of creases
that caught the light just so, each time I pulled the print from the press—
studied it for color and coverage and placement,
to get as close to perfect as those little feet and hands
had already gotten.

Bill Denham
December 21. 2007