Poetry Pamphlet Reviews & Features

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‘Tapsalteerie’ is a great name. Where did it come from?

Thanks very much! I spent ages casting around for a name and had tried quite a few different Scots words before coming to ‘tapsalteerie’. It just stuck, and I found myself thinking of the press as Tapsalteerie before I’d even really fully made the decision, so I just went with it.

Tapsalteerie is an old Scots word for chaotic, upside down, or topsy-turvy, and I think it fits in well with the character of the press. There’s a great verse in James Robertson’s translation into Scots of ‘The Day o Judgement’ an 18th century Gaelic poem by Dugald Buchanan:

As the universe gangs tapsalteerie
An awthin in it dwines awa,
The time draws in when aw maun staun,
Afore the judge an his dreid law.

The line ‘as the universe gangs tapsalteerie’ seemed massively suitable and so I’ve appropriated it as a tag-line for the press. Tapsalteerie – as the universe gangs. To me it speaks of the connection between poetry and the universe, of our attempts to understand our place in the whole vast chaos of it all through poetry.

Who does the typesetting and design? And if it’s you, how did you learn the necessary skills?

All the publishing work is done ‘in-house’ as you would say. The only thing I don’t take on myself is the actual writing of the poetry, the drawing of any illustrations, and the printing of the pamphlets. But everything else is cooked up at home, in my spare room, in front of my trusty PC.

I’ve gradually been learning the obscure art of book-design and typography over the past five years. I graduated from the MLitt in publishing studies at the University of Stirling in 2008, where I was shown how to use the necessary software and got a basic grounding in typography. After that I set up a wee thing called Lumphanan Press, where I offer publishing services to – mainly, but not exclusively – self-publishing authors. Through that I’ve designed and typeset quite a variety of different publications including technical manuals, children’s books, and novels. I just jumped in at the deep end and taught myself how to do it through a combination of experience and reading typography books. It was cpagesertainly a bit nerve-wracking at first, but I’m definitely getting the hang of it now.