Twenty years ago Dan Carr, with little more than a passion for poetry, especially that of William Blake, and a bachelor's degree in English from Clark University, opened a print shop in a former coffin factory in Charlestown, Mass., so he could publish chapbooks of his own poems. He hawked the books for $5 apiece in Boston. He had no way of knowing that someday he would be setting the words of James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, and Maya Angelou in type -- the old way, not with a computer. He did not know he would become a leading practitioner of an art form that has all but died in this country. He did not know his work would become the subject of exhibitions.
Likewise Julia Ferrari, who had earned a degree in studio art and art history at Mount Holyoke College, did not know what she was getting herself into when she responded to an intriguing ad in the now-defunct Boston weekly The Real Paper. "Press Your Own Poems," it said. Carr had placed the ad in an attempt to interest someone in apprenticing in his shop. In giving it a try, Ferrari had no idea how the world of words would become entwined with her work as a visual artist.
But spring came, Carr shaved his beard and cut his hair, Ferrari shed her fabric bulk, and romance bloomed. As husband and wife for 15 years, they have operated the Golgonooza Letter Foundry and Press in what was once a rowhouse for millworkers in Ashuelot, 25 miles south of Keene. Carr named the business after a city in William Blake's mythology, where the human faculties of reason, imagination, art and the flesh unite and regenerate.