Aaron Cohick, “What You Will”

The exterior jacket of What You Will, showing both front and back covers, as well as the spine. The layering and displacement of information on the outside of the book demonstrates the premise of its overall structure.

One of three spreads in the title page sequence. The title, like the rest of the text-book, emerges over time.

Image showing a later interior spread of the poems, printed in negative text in the black columns, and the successive layers of mirrored text printed in gray to the right.

Detail showing the many layers of transparent gray text.

The “mid-point” of the book, where the covers of the double-signature pamphlet stitch wrap around to the interior of the book. The entirety of the book is printed in white ink on the black paper of the covers, making the entire structure apparent at once.


Aaron Cohick
Colorado Springs, Colorado

What You Will
Letterpress from photopolymer plates
edition size of 100
44 pages
8.75″ x 8.75″
8.75″ x 4.375″


Artist Statement

What You Will is a collaboration between the NewLights Press and the poet, printer & book scholar Kyle Schlesinger. The design and structure of the book are a direct response to Kyle’s poems—tall,
narrow stacks of short lines that rhythmically build into modular “language-objects.” The book takes that principle of modularity, of rhythmic building, and extends it through the repetitive, temporal structure of the codex. The poems themselves are placed inside a black frame, the width of which is determined by the longest line on that page. To the left of each black column, the poem is printed in reverse (visually mirrored) in a transparent gray. Once a poem is printed in gray, it repeats on every page, and the text from each successive page is printed on top of all of the previous layers. Every previously read poem is always present, both in the vision & memory of the reader. The layering continues until the mid-point of the book (determined by the sequence of poems—it is not the literal halfway mark in the physical book), where the book in its entirety is printed in white on the black paper that forms the covers & spine of the double-signature pamphlet stitch. After that point, the layering moves in reverse—one layer of gray text is removed with each turn of the page.

Artist Biography

The NewLights Press is an independent publisher of experimental writing and artists’ books, concentrating on where the two can and do overlap. It was founded in Baltimore, MD in 2000 by Aaron
Cohick, and currently resides in Colorado Springs, CO. All of the books are printed & bound “by hand,” using a variety of techniques, ranging from the obsolete (letterpress) to the utilitarian (laser printing) to the meditative (delamination). We try to maintain inclusive (& purposefully problematic) definitions of such
mutable terms as “experimental writing,” “artists’ books,” and “printing techniques,” and to be similarly inclusive in the kinds of books that we produce. We believe in the actual use value of art objects as soft, temporary spaces in and against which individuals & communities can envision & articulate their relationship to, and shape in, the world. We are not searching for the Ideal Book—we are looking hard at & reading closely from the book-in-the-world.