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The Horseshoe Press

Grenfell publishing house telling local stories with handmade books

By Melanie Callahan

For some avid readers, there’s no replacement for a physical book.

The cover design, the feel of the pages and the smell of the ink are important parts of reading experience.

Three professors at Memorial’s Grenfell Campus, Drs. Tom Halford and Adam Beardsworth from the School of Arts and Social Science, and Prof. Andrew Testa from the School of Fine Arts, had an idea to create a publishing operation that included not only author and literature selection, but the actual physical creation of the book.

The result is the Horseshoe Press publishing house.

Supporting local

A magazine, The Horseshoe, created in 2022, has published two issues of literary work, but book publishing is a different project.

The Horseshoe Press is collaborating with the Corner Brook Public Library and working with the local library writing group to publish original works of local authors in book format.

The Grenfell Campus-based publishing house is seeking local community members who are interested in publishing their own short work and will use resources (equipment and faculty) at Grenfell Campus.

The hope is to foster a sustainable local publishing house that will continue to propel local authors and encourage local community members to participate in creative writing, according to Dr. Halford.

“The material book, for me, is an extension of the story,” said Prof. Testa. “The font, paper, cover, size, weight, construction and overall feel all play a role in how someone experiences a story. My favourite component of this book is the cover made by local paper maker, Leslie Lundrigan (Purple Butterfly Paper). By using her paper, we not only produce one-of-a-kind book covers, but get to continue our celebration of local creatives.”

Memorial’s Office of Public Engagement provided a Quickstart grant to buy equipment to cut and staple books. Student assistants were hired to help with the copy-editing and the physical construction of the books.

Celebrating the first book

A stack of books sit on a desk with one on display; white cover with an ink drawing of camera
The first publication of the Horseshoe Press is by local author Mervyn Dean.
Photo: Submitted

An event was held recently to celebrate the first book to be published: a collection of short stories by Mervyn Dean titled The Photographer and Three Haunting Tales.

Dr. Halford says the collection is “exactly” what he hoped to do with the project

“Mervyn is an active member of the writer’s group here in the library,” he said. “He’s been writing and going to readings for years. He knows his stuff and he’s a strong writer. Sometimes, at university, maybe we ignore genre authors. We focus on the literary. People outside of the university might, however, be more interested in ghost stories or crime fiction or science fiction.”

The project is also about the partnership of artists supporting other artists, as noted by Prof. Testa.

“We also have a chance to celebrate some local tech at Grenfell by using the laser engraver to create a unique way of etching the cover, which depicts a drawing of the Leica camera mentioned in Mervyn’s story, drawn by local artist and current bachelor of fine arts Grenfell student, Laine Skinner. This project is a celebration of local creativity and it is so exciting to be a part of.”

Copies of the book are available in the Grenfell Campus bookstore.

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