Errant Press is an independent press based in Los Angeles. They create, print, and distribute books that challenge the traditional form and reading dynamics. Run by Mexican artists Alan Sobrino and Tania Chaidez Ibarra, Errant Press was started as a self-publishing project in 2019 by Sobrino to explore the book form. Alan made his first book-objects at the kitchen table as a birthday gift for Tania, who later joined the team.
Digitization and Special Collections Librarian Rosemarie Knopka met Alan at a UCLA California Rare Book School class called Movement in Print: Radical Publishing in Contemporary Latin America, which Dr. Magalí Rabasa taught. A week later, Rosemarie recognized Alan tabling for Errant Press at Printed Matter's L.A. Art Book Fair. She was drawn to Sobrino's "book," Cinta para Medir, an artists' book printed on measuring tape draped around his neck. Knopka recalls via email liking that association of "a book being like an essential tool you would keep close to you on your body."
Sobrino writes that he wanted to "play with the relationship between the content and the container, so for a poem about measuring reality with verses, we decided to print it into a measuring tape." Showing Rosemarie the screen-printed poems on both sides of the tape, one in English and the other in Spanish, Alan said he did the labor-intensive printing himself. Knopka "thought it was touching, the idea of measuring life by love poems." Sobrino originally wrote the poem in Spanish and explains, "30 Love Verses'" is a poem that questions how we measure things and proposes love verses as a single measure of everything."
30 Love Verses
There are those who want to measure poetry
it makes me laugh
the naivety, the aesthetic poverty
the banality and the audacity
it makes me sad
How do you measure the silent
space between two mouths
the thread of magnetic saliva
and the simultaneous current of air
from the breath in one of our kisses?
How do you measure the length of the waves
in the memory of the seas
of childhood vacations
when grandpa was still alive
and I didn't know we all someday will die?
Or how to measure the obvious relationship that exists
between the weight of the heat of your body
my desire and the rotation
of the celestial bodies?
It's a human error to forget that poetry
if we don't use the verse as the sole measure
of quantity, of price, of distance
of time, of pain, and of success
"What time is it?"
"A frozen moment of eternity."
"How much does it cost?"
"The same as drowning a blow to the ear."
"How long is it?"
"Thirty love verses on a tape."
Knopka acquires items for the Library's Book Arts Collection that are bilingual in English and Spanish, including works by Felicia Rice, Mary Heebner, and Daniel González.
The LAPL Rare Books department materials are Special Collections, which includes rare books and maps as well as the archived Menu Collection, the Los Angeles Public Library Institutional Archive, the Brockman Gallery Archive, and the Lydia R. Otero Archive. There are approximately 22,000 rare book monographs and a substantial cookbook collection. The Books Arts Collections holds about 900 items, including fine press and artists' book materials.
An introduction to Special Collections can be found here. Items in the Rare Books Room are available by appointment only between the hours of 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The application can be found here.
When Alan Sobrino discovered that his book was in the Rare Books Collection, he felt honored to be part of the Library's collection. "We are exhaustive users of the Library and value the Library's mission and vision. Being part of the rare book collection is more relevant than any private archive or gallery as we become public and accessible."