"The Planetary Tambourine," a collection of 99 sonnets written by Steven Nightingale, was recently designed and published by the University's Black Rock Press. The collection begins with a fitting piece titled "Sonnets," which sets the tone for the rest of the collection. Throughout the sonnets, Nightingale examines such themes as women, nature and ruminations about his travels and his life.
"Because I love the form, I write sonnets mostly every day," Nightingale said. "So 'The Planetary Tambourine' comes directly from my daily life."
Nightingale discovered the sonnet as a poetic form 30 years ago when he waited tables and worked as a blackjack dealer, according to the introduction in "The Planetary Tambourine."
"I think the sonnet as a form has a special power and a special gift," Nightingale said. "It can hold beauty and safeguard understanding."
Nightingale also published a collection of 33 sonnets called "Cartwheels' with the Black Rock Press in the past. Black Rock Press director Bob Blesse said the concept for the idea began when he and Nightingale discussed the possibility of publishing a set of three collections of Nightingale's sonnets, "The Planetary Tambourine" being the first of them.
"Steven has been a long time supporter of Black Rock Press," Blesse said. "We were talking about it [the project] for a long time."
The two other collections of sonnets have already been written and the releases of the collections are still being discussed, Nightingale said. One of the books of sonnets is titled "The Cinnamon Theologies," which is taken from a line of poetry within the collection.
According to Blesse, Nightingale's following books of sonnets aren't the only undertakings the Black Rock Press has. The press is working on a guidebook to architecture and significant buildings in Reno, a new book of poetry by Linda Hussa, who has previously printed other books with the press.
The press is also currently designing a limited edition book of sonnets by Troy Jollimore, a poet from California State University, Chico which includes artwork by James Kuiper, another California State University, Chico faculty member.
Black Rock Press will also publish a book by Emma Sepulveda, the University's Latino Research Center Director. The book contains her newspaper columns that appeared in the Reno Gazette Journal.
The Board of Regents have also approved a change in the way the Black Rock Press is run, making Blesse the official and full-time director of the press as of last summer. The press is now in the art department instead of the library as it had been in past years. This development allowed Blesse to open more printing classes in the art department.
"The opportunities it created are really great," Blesse said. "Our classes have been in such high demand. Now more students can take more classes and we can expand offerings into different kinds of classes."
Blesse also has his hands full from tours and lectures of the Black Rock Press. Although Blesse is busy with the classes and designing books, he still welcomes visitors whose curiosity leads them into the printing room.
"Some just come in and spend time here," Blesse said with a smile.