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SWAN SONGS AT STRATFORD: THE BUTCH (MERVYN) BLAKE PHOTO GALLERY OF JUNE 1st, 1999

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Astrid BrunnerWE CAME SO FAR FOR BEAUTY; OR: 20 YEARS OF SIGNIFICANT PERIPHERAL CANADIAN PUBLISHING, 1990-2010.

COMPILED FOR THE FAA GALA AND AUCTION AT THE CHARLOTTE STREET ARTS CENTRE IN FREDERICTON , NEW BRUNSWICK , TO BE HELD ON THE 30TH OF SEPTEMBER, 2010 , AT 7:00 PM TO 11:00 PM .

AUCTION NOTE: THIS ENTRY IS ESTIMATED AT A VALUE OF $500.00 (FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS CANADIAN), AND SHOULD NOT GO FOR LESS THAN $200.00 (TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS CANADIAN).

Legend to the AB collector publishing FAA Auction Package:

Item 1/1990: UCA 20s Broadcast Videocassette Color Plus, Marlene in Academe, by Astrid Brunner. Film. col. 10 mins.

This is the beginning of AB collector publishing. The AB part, that is. Poised between academe and arts journalism on the one hand, publishing and writing books on the other. The video is a razzle for Tom Stoppard, who, about a half decade or more before, was the focus of AB’s doctoral dissertation. It is AB’s farewell fazit of academe, and is executed in a Marlene Dietrich-like take on the existential either/or between academe and whisky.

Conceived, scripted, directed, acted and produced at The Banff Centre for the Arts. ½ copies made from the master tape by Verne Hume, and stored in the Banff Centre/Leighton Artist Colony archives. Not commercially available.

Copyright ABcp/Astrid Brunner/Banff Centre for the Arts. Copying, distribution, or other than private viewing of this tape is infringing on copyright and subject to pertaining infringement laws.

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Item 2/1991: Glass, short stories, by Astrid Brunner. This is the first book production of AB collector publishing. Final version (from original German and English versions) written at the Leighton Artist Colony of The Banff Centre for the Arts. Designed by Jean von Neudegg, cover based on 1/1 AP print, “Magpie,” by Newfoundland artist Bill Ritchie. Printed by Sundog Printing, Calgary .

Widely toured, reviewed and distributed. Inspiration for Halifax photographer George Steeve’s Exile: A Journey with Astrid Brunner, Galérie Vu, Québec City , Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa , Gallery Connexion, Fredericton , and various international (European) exhibitions. Current listing price is $15.95 Canadian.

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Item 3/1992: Dreams of a Drunken Quaker: two plays and a rant, by Michael Green. One Yellow Rabbit Performance Theatre’s multiple award-winning Michael Green’s two plays had been performed and toured by the time this book was produced; the “rant” of this trilogy was written expressly for AB collector publishing, and later performed at Dalhousie University’s Grad House in Halifax, as a leg-up for its international tour (the poster for this is part of this ABcp auction entry). “Rant” was scripted at the Leighton Artist Colony of The Banff Centre for the Arts, and the book designed by Jean von Neudegg, and printed by Sundog Printing, Calgary . The book is illustrated by 3 b&w performance photographs; the cover is a Peter Moller/Jean von Neudegg design, based on a photograph of the author by Mark Oleksyn. Current listing price is $15.95 Canadian.

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Item 4/1993: LOVE.liebesgedichte, poems and prose dicht-ungen by Norval Balch, with German translations by Astrid Brunner. This hardcover, cloth-bound and slip-covered edition is AB collector publishing’s pièce de résistance of book design. Together with Jason Holt’s Feeling Fine in Kafka’s Burrow, it is the AB collector publishing most extravagant design and production extravaganza (within an otherwise peripheral production budget), which made headlines when both books had a gala VIP launching in Halifax’s Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery (the poster and invitation card are part of this ABcp auction entry); LOVE.liebesgedichte is designed by Montréal/Calgary designer Nelson Vigneault of ThinkDesign. The cover and frontispiece photo is by Halifax photographer George Steeves. The book was printed by Kaleidocolor. Its current listing price is “no more than $69.00” Canadian.

The notable anecdote regarding this production is that the designer and publisher never met in person, but negotiated by telephone (email being then as yet a novelty, even for publishers). When it came to choosing the exquisite paper, the francophone Nelson Vigneault convinced the publisher of the paper’s excellence with those words in English, tendered with French accent: “This paper,” Vigneault said, “does not yield to the temptation of being yellow.”

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Item 5/1994: Feeling Fine in Kafka’s Burrow, poems by Jason Holt. The book design and production information is the same as for Item 4, except that Jason Holt’s book of poetry is in paperback, smythe-sewn, with full French flaps, and endpaper. This is AB collector publishing’s first book by Jason, who was then in his early ‘20s. ABcp has since published 4 more of his books, and Jason is now an established poet, and professor of philosophy at Acadia University in Wolfville , Nova Scotia , with, in addition to his poetry, several novels and philosophical books and papers to his credit. The cover design is based on a painting by Nova Scotia artist Onni Nordman. The book is currently price-listed as “no more than $39.00” Canadian.

The book is a regular part of the poet’s public readings, and has been used in university curricula for English studies. It was ABcp gala-launched in tandem with Item 4.

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Item 6/1994: Gunner Schmidt at the Crossroads, an author-illustrated and annotated historical play for High Schools, by the late Saint Mary’s University Art Gallery curator, and Dresden Art Gallery owner, Robert Dietz. Another AB collector publishing design and production extravaganza, this time with support by the then Nova Scotia Department of Tourism and Culture. Eventually launched at the Park Lane complex on Halifax ’s Spring Garden Road . (The original launching was scheduled to take place at the Cambridge Military Library on Queen Street in Halifax , and the enclosed poster and invitation for this auction read that way: they are collectors’ items, as the author changed the venue after the invitations were sent out, and without informing the publisher). Richly illustrated with the author’s World War II memories in charcoal, biographical photographs, and with a Preface by the late Duncan Fraser, Professor emeritus of Political Science and Strategic Studies at Acadia University in Wolfville , Nova Scotia . Annotated by the publisher. Designed by Halifax graphic artist and designer Paul-Michael Brunelle MGDC. Cover design based on a charcoal drawing by the author, and a photograph of the author as a child drummer. Printed by McCurdy Printing. Current listing price is $21.95 Canadian.

This book was used as a text book at Dalhousie University, but its distribution and success was eventually hampered by the law case (by the author against the publisher) ensuing from the author’s change of launching venue. A case of inverse justice. The book, as well as its history and publication history, though troubled, is a tribute to an eccentric and far from easy survivor of the Second World War, who came to Canada to save his soul, but did not quite succeed in the end. The ghosts he made haunted him way to “the other side of air” (Rainer Maria Rilke). Requiescat in pace.

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Item 7/1995: 3817:gender evocations. Anthology. This auction copy is the last available. The book is now out of print. It is a collection of student writings, written, edited, and discussed in class as part of one of the publisher’s classes in English at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s , in 1994/95. Contains brief biographies of authors. The book was designed by the publisher and printed at Memorial University’s print shop. The cover is based on a collage by Stratford actor, aesthete, and antiquarian, Nolan Jennings. Listing price N/A.

This book was launched at Memorial University , and broadcast on radio. One of its authors, Jo-Anne Soper-Cook, is now an established novelist, also published by Fredericton ’s Goose Lane Editions.

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Item 8/1996: The Dog That Wasn’t:der Hund der keiner war. Anthology. This book is an anthology at the other end of the age spectrum from 3817:gender evocations. The latter was an ABcp writing and publishing experiment with young students at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Item 8 was a bilingual (German/English) ABcp writing and publishing experiment with senior citizen students of English in Switzerland (for Pro Senectute Glarus). Both experiments came out of classrooms in which the publisher taught language and literature. The Dog That Wasn’t:der Hund der keiner war was the groundbreaking text book that established the English programme for senior citizens (Pro Senectute) in the publisher’s own childhood valley of Glarus , in Switzerland . The students were told to tell and write their stories in as much English as they could command, and to tell the rest in German; the class would then go over the texts in both languages, and make decisions regarding the final bilingual texts. Many of the students had never written before. Even fewer had read in public. The book was launched, to great local acclaim, at the old Glarus train station “Buffet,” and several senior citizen students read their stories in front of a sizeable audience. The book features brief biographies of the authors, a lexicographical vocabulary, and has space for classroom notes; it was eventually acclaimed as a text book for similar seniors (Pro Senectute) programmes throughout Switzerland .

The book cover is designed by the late Markus Wolleb, based on his class-in-action photographs, and printed by Braunwald Druck Switzerland . Markus was the owner of the longest established photo establishment in Glarus, and a considerable photographer, dancer, and Renaissance man. He died a tragic death just when he was on the verge of beginning a new life in Austria . This auction copy, too, is the last available, and the book is now out of print. Listing price N/A.

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Item 9/1998: RawSilk Soie Ėcrue RohSeide, poems by Astrid Brunner. This trilingual book of poems had its first reading in Stratford , Ontario . Subsequent readings across Canada , and in Germany and Switzerland . The auction material includes an illustrated trilingual printout on the book’s subject, published by Neujahrsbote Verlag in Linthal , Switzerland , which for a few years collaborated with AB collector publishing overseas. The book is an inspired innovative form of authobiography: each poem is titled by a figure from Mythology, Shakespeare, or the Bible. The paradigmatic characters are ordered alphabetically from A-Z-A-Z-A-S, that is: forming a full alphabetical W (for Woman), followed by an incomplete alphabetical W, thus making a statement on the incomplete state of “Woman,” no matter how extensive “woman”’s reading, or “women”’s mythology. Designed onto the flaps, and repeated at the beginning and end of the book, is the author’s war-torn biography in prose, in 3 spired columns corresponding to the 3 languages of the book, English, French, and German. The biography ends with the death and burial of the author’s long-searched-for, late-found, and only thrice-met biological mother.

Extensive background material on this story is to be found in The Reader, the weekend addition to The Telegraph Journal in Saint John NB. (At the time of writing this auction report, the publisher is still looking for a hardcopy of this report, for inclusion in this auction package).

This book is the first of many future AB collector publishing productions, designed by Fredericton designer Pete Stafford, of Cambridge Pen & Design. Pete based the design of RawSilk SoieĖcrue RohSeide on 3 action-in-studio photographs, taken by George Steeves in the dance studio of the well-travelled physical theatre company Jest in Time, in Halifax . The author wears a raw silk dress (hence the title), purchased near the Place Pigalle in Paris , on a dark journey driven by forces she failed to understand at the time (hence, again, the title, metaphorically this time), and dancing/wrestling with one of the Jest in Time’s Christmas angels. As most ABcp books up to date, RawSilk SoieĖcrue RohSeide is smythe-sewn, and has full French flaps and exquisitely fine paper. Printed by McCurdy Printing Limited. Current listing price is $23.95 Canadian.

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Item 10/1999: MEMOS to No One, poems by Jason Holt. This book is listed for completion’s sake. It is no longer available from the publisher. The perspicacious auction collector of this AB collector publishing package may perhaps get a copy from the author, via Acadia University , Wolfville , Nova Scotia . Design by Pete Stafford. Cover design based on photograph by T. Calder and author photo by W. Vanderburgh. Printed by Centennial. Formerly distributed by Impresses/madltdcom.

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Item 11/1999: Lies:the Old Man in the Mountains, short stories by Astrid Brunner. This is the English draft of the German expanded version, Mimosen:die grossen Leiden des Alten S., and another experiment in autobiography, and the unravelling of childhood pain, by the author/publisher. Design by Pete Stafford, based on photographs by George Steeves, and Nicholas Bechgaard. Frontispiece sketch of the “Old Man” by the author. Printed by Quebecor.

This is the first ABcp book distributed by the late Malcolm Somerville’s Impresses, Saint John , as ABcp’s regular distributor. From here on, Malcolm acted as ABcp distributor till his much too early death on the 10th of March, 2005 . See Item 20 of this auction package: A Quiet, Bashful Man:remembering Malcolm. Current listing price is $17.95 Canadian.

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Item 12/1999: A Winter in the Life of Bundles Mustardseed, short stories and odes by Norval Balch. When the author moved to the “camp” (now “Owl’s”) by French Lake near Fredericton, with his aged Mom, and golden retriever puppy Bundles Mustardseed, waiting for spring to begin building his dream solar house, he kept a log of puppy’s daily discoveries of the world around him: the frozen lake (there is a fold-out map of the interactive steps on that winter’s French Lake, with paws and rubber boots and pee stops all mapped out), the forest, the snow, all so new. Book design by Pete Stafford. Cover photo by Sabina Balch. Printed by Centennial. Distributed by Impresses. After this auction entry this book is utterly out of print. Listing price N/A.

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Item 13/1999: With Love From Butch: A Stratford Actor, a biography by Audrey M. Ashley. This is a fulsome, lavishly illustrated biography of Stratford Shakespearean Festival’s longest-acting character actor, written by one of the festival’s longest-standing local theatre critics. With introduction (Prelude) by the publisher, and concluding remarks (Postlude) by Stratford and Shaw Festivals actor, Tony van Bridge, and a Preface by the late Stratford Festival Artistic Director Richard Monette. A must for any Stratford Festival and theatre fan.

This auction entry includes poster and invitation to the Festival Theatre Lobby launching of the book, with William Hutt proposing the toast; Artistic Director Richard Monette, festival founder Tom Patterson, and notable festival actors and friends lauding Mervyn Blake’s (Butch’s) career. This book launching happened to be Butch’s last performance at the Stratford Shakespearean Festival, as he had earlier fallen just before the 1999 season’s dress rehearsals, and was now confined to a wheel chair, never to return to the stage again.

Design by Pete Stafford. Cover based on Butch’s role as Dogberry. Printed by McCurdy Printing Limited. Distributed by Impresses. Current listing price $29.95 Canadian.

Additional auction material: Stratford Visitors’ Guides with half and full page ads for With Love From Butch: A Stratford Actor.

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Item 14/2000: Mimosen:die grossen Leiden des Alten S., autobiographical short stories in German by Astrid Brunner. See Item 11 entry. Expanded version in German of the English sketch, Lies:the Old Man in the Mountains. Design by Pete Stafford. Cover design based on George Steeves and Nicholas Bechgaard photographs. Author sketches of the “Old Man” (der Alte S.), and of Linthal, by the author. Canadian distribution by Impresses. Swiss/European distribution by Verlag Neujahrsbote (may no longer apply, as editorial and administrative committees have changed). Current listing price $26.95 Canadian. Price in CHF available via Baeschlin Buchhandlung, Glarus , Switzerland .

This book was launched on two evenings (due to overflow of audiences) at the Café Winkel in Glarus , Switzerland . It was much written about by the local press, where it was mainly praised; outside the press, it enthralled and bamboozled, and created adoration and hatred in equal measure.

The book is now part of the folklore in the Swiss valley whose equivocal distinction it is to have executed the last “witch” in Central Europe as late as the latter half of the 18th century.

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Item 15/2001: Wind, Frost and Fire, poems by American poet Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard. Travels extensive, external and internal, and concerns historical, architectural, and social, these are the topics of academic poet Marguerite Guzmán Bouvard. New territory for AB collector publishing, though unpursued after this book. Designed by Pete Stafford. Cover based on “original cover art” by José Mimó y Mena. Distribution by Impresses/M.Somverville Distribution Ltd./murderhill.com. Printed by Print Atlantic . Current listing price $13.95 Canadian. American N/A.

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Items 16/17/18/the 2003 “redendpaper trilogy,” launched at Le Caveau, Grand Pré Winery, Wolfville , Nova Scotia (poster/invitation is part of this auction package).

Details of redendpaper trilogy:

Item 16/2003: On the Night the Flowers Caught Fire:poems and otherwise words, by Astrid Brunner. Still autobiographical but now imbued with unbearable lightness of language, if not of being. Caustic, allusive, brief, esoteric, too all too human, intimate, intellectual, and full of tempest-tossed laughter. The book concludes with “an allegory for Carol Fraser [1930-1991],” the book’s title being only a slight adaptation of the title Halifax painter Carol Fraser gave to what she considered her most successful rendering of fire in watercolour. Design by Pete Stafford. Cover based on Carol Fraser’s watercolour “one night the flowers caught fire.” Printed by Print Atlantic . Red endpapers. Distributed by M.Somverville Distribution Ltd./ImPresses. Current listing price is $19.95 Canadian.

Item 17/2003: Exposures. Poems and photographs, by Liane Heller and George Steeves. Expository introduction by the publisher. Halifax poet Liane Heller’s gesamtkunstwerk poetry in full sail. This is an excruciatingly emotional and intellectual book. A perfect collaboration of two artists at the height of their craft and joint vision. Book design by Pete Stafford. Printed by Print Atlantic . Red endpapers. Distributed by M.Somverville Distribution Ltd./ImPresses. Current listing price is $21.95 Canadian.

Item 18/2003: A Hair’s Breadth of Abandon. Poems by Jason Holt. Foreword by George Elliott Clarke. Designed by Martha Moore / Seafoam Graphics. Cover based on photographs by Elana Geller. Printed by Gaspereau Press, Kentville , Nova Scotia . Red endpapers. Distributed by ImPresses.

“…almost tyrannous demand for le mot juste” [Clarke] poetry, and unique marriage of avant-garde design and old-fashioned printing. In its way, this book is another ABcp production extravaganza, and a definite collectors’ item. Current listing price is $19.95 Canadian.

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Item 19/2005: Relics for an Open Vault. Poems by Jason Holt. Exegetical introduction by Liane Heller, “Essaying the Vault: on the poetry of Jason Holt.” Heller’s in depth summing up of Jason Holt’s poetry so far, is learned, insightful, enriching, a poetry unto itself. Together, poet Heller turned scholar on the poetry of scholar Holt, they illuminate each to each, and make a brave new world of words and meaning in Canadian literary thinking and writing.

Two unfortunate printing gaffes—thanks to accelerated, preemptive technologies, which make a mockery of traditional blueprint proof-reading—make this book a worthy item in a collector’s library by way of documenting watersheds in ways of publishing. Design by Pete Stafford. Cover design based on author photo by George Steeves. Distribution via M.Somerville Distributors & ImPresses 2006 Memorial Website (no longer available). Printed by Transcontinental. Current listing price $18.95 Canadian.

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Item 20/2006: A Quiet, Bashful Man:remembering Malcolm. Anthology. Tribute to the late Malcolm Somerville, historian, writer, publisher, distributor. This book is a collection of the ABcp Malcolm Memorial Literary Competition entrants, of memories by friends, colleagues, family. It contains photographs of and by Malcolm, and photographs by the late R.E. Balch, of Malcolm’s favourite places in New Brunswick ; photographs from the Somerville family album; and samples of Malcolm’s own creative and professional writing, and of his visions as a publisher and writer. 3 colour reproductions by goldsmith and painter Eve Llyndorah (one, “Gateway,” specifically made for this book), punctuate the roughly 3 sections of the book. An annotated correspondence between Malcolm and the publisher forms the introduction, entitled “courting the shadows—a dusting of words for Malcolm”; and the footnotes throughout may be regarded as illuminating subtext, a kind of separate book in the manner of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Kreisler and Kater Murr. There are brief biographies of the contributors at the end of the book, and there is an extensive index for reference and further illumination. A Quiet, Bashful Man:remembering Malcolm is a bedside coffee table book; and if there hasn’t been such a kind of book until now, well, there is one now.

Book design by Pete Stafford, Cambridge Pen & Design. Front cover based on painting of Malcolm, by Saint John NB artist, Stephen E. Scott, “Man about town”; the back cover is based on the same artist’s sketch of Malcolm, “Study for man with cape.” Printed by Transcontinental Printing. Distribution via publisher. Information through Westminster Books, Fredericton . Current listing price $19.95 Canadian.

This book inspired the History Department of the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton , to create an annual scholarship in Malcolm Somerville’s name. The prize was awarded for the first time in 2007.

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Item 21/2008: My Aschi, My Pericles! / Mein Aschi, mein Perikles! A tribute by Astrid Brunner,  to a waif, a gigolo, a philosopher, a musician and Swiss hotelier, who came to die at French Lake . The subtitle of this mix of scholarship on Shakespeare’s Pericles, and the 13 German and English poems based on Shakespeare’s play and Aschi, reads: (this being the first part of corruptus delicti: Aschi’s Story) / (der Liebesgeschichte corruptus delicti: Aschis Story erster Teil). Designed by Pete Stafford, front cover based on bookmark photo by Terry Manzo, Stratford, and Ross Mavis’s photo of Aschi playing accordion at the A Quiet, Bashful Man:remembering Malcolm book launching at Inn on the Cove, Saint John NB, on the 13th of September, 2006. Back cover based on “Stubete” (folk music session) in Switzerland . Inside photos of Aschi’s heyday drumming days, and his last performance in Switzerland before coming to Canada .

This is a limited collectors’ edition distributed among friends; it is hand-embossed, and numbered 1 to 99 (the auction’s entry is 99/99), and contains the embossed bookmark reproduced on the cover. Currently listed as “no more than $49.00” Canadian.

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Item 22/200-??: Canadian Ceramics: A Collector’s Passion. This is the long projected book of the publisher’s 30years-in-the-making collection of Canadian ceramics, which has been with the New Brunswick Museum since 1997. The book should have been published several years ago, and thus be part of this auction package. NBM’s part in both the travelling exhibition of this significant Canadian collection of ceramics, and in their contribution to the book, have been much delayed. It is anticipated that this may be rectified within the coming year or two. For updates—if you are a ceramist in the Dr. Astrid Brunner Collection of Canadian Ceramics, or a librarian, or otherwise interested—please send your contact address to darklady@nbnet.nb.ca.

The collection is photographed in its entirety by ABcp/Norval Balch since 2000. The book is projected as a hardcover, fully illustrated and annotated coffee table book in the best sense, that is, as a lavishly illustrated bible, and reference tome, of Canadian, and especially Atlantic Canadian, ceramics. The historical-contextual introduction is incumbent on the collection’s NBM curator, Peter J. Larocque; the main text is anecdotal with reference to the acquisition of each piece by the collector, Astrid Brunner, for whom the 30 years of collecting ceramics was one way of acquiring English and Canadian ways of seeing the world.

Whenever this book, and its concomitant travelling exhibition, do come into being, a copy of Canadian Ceramics: A Collector’s Passion will be reserved for whoever acquires this AB collector publishing package submitted to this 30th of September, 2010, FAA Charlotte Street Arts Centre auction.

Please observe all copyright conventions applying to this auction package, and as stated in and about the individual items of this entry.

24.IX.2010 for 30.IX.2010 ©Astrid Brunner, French Lake , New Brunswick , Canada E4B 1K5

   

 

Copyright © 2006 © 2007 © 2011 AB collector publishing. All rights reserved.


AB collector publishing publishes mainly in English and sometimes in German or French. "We engage writers, artists & scholars coast to coast & in Europe… We publish poetry, photography, short stories, art, history, biography, ceramics, drama… With us each book is a thing of art, a dusting of poetry, a meaning of life, & always a passion.” [Visitors’ Guide 2007, Stratford Festival of Canada]

Our books

Our designers include Nelson Vigneault, Jean von Neudegg, Paul-Michael Brunelle, Martha Moore and Pete Stafford.

Our artists include Nolan Jennings, William B. Ritchie, Onni Nordman, Markus Wolleb, George Steeves, Stephen E. Scott, Rob Roy, Carol Fraser and Eve Llyndorah.