Posted by: John Looker | 5 March, 2014

The Silk Road – a booklet to print


[I have now included this sequence of poems in my book The Human Hive and have since discontinued the A5 booklet]


“The clouds thicken
and soon cover over the sights they have had to leave:
the great city, its port, its river,
and the towers and domes they rapidly learnt to love … “

I have now formatted this sequence of nine poems, posted over recent weeks under the title The Silk Road, so that they may be printed free in booklet form – see the link below.

I am grateful to Sheila Creighton for the beautiful image above which also features on the cover of the booklet. Sheila is a photographer, writer and communications professional and you can see more of her photography on her website:

Photo: © Sheila Creighton 2014

To print a copy of the poems as an A5 booklet, please open this PDF file which is found in Dropbox (you do not need to download Dropbox – it gives you open access via the internet):

[this link now discontinued]

Print instructions: double sided printing (four sheets of paper); set the binding edge to be the short edge; print; then fold: you will have a small book or pamphlet –  ©  John Stevens 2014

This is a bit of an experiment because I don’t know whether there will be much interest in printing the poems. The file takes a minute to download but it seems to work smoothly. Please do leave a comment if there are any problems. [Update on 7 March: I’m told it works well.]


  1. John, thanks for making this available.
    I most certainly will print one out
    For my collection. Which will put you somewhere between Wallace Stevens and Rumi. 🙂


  2. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed following this series, John. Wonderful idea to make the series available as a download, and you’ve really excelled with the layout and formatting. This will definitely be holding a pride of place in my collection. Thank you.


    • Thanks for this Brad. I’m glad you like the layout and formatting – for those who have access to automatic two-sided printing, it does seem to work smoothly.


  3. Ah John, I will definitely attempt to print this out.

    Then I can enjoy the poems at my leisure when sitting in my reclining armchair with a mug of tea close by.

    The only way to read poetry really



    • I can picture you immediately David!
      Printing is easy provided you can do two-sided printing automatically. Manually, it’s slow.


  4. Congratulations on the creation of this booklet, John!I have not yet had the chance to figure out if my printer at home will do double sides having seldom had the need for that, and when necessary, have done it manually.
    I wonder also…..since I have no A4 paper, but only American letter size, will this work as well? (I have some golden ratio sizes among my art papers, but since neither your International nor my American are golden ratios, it’s a bit of fun thinking about this) . Practically speaking, I will soon have time to find out if I will end up with a reasonable copy of your booklet. Maybe someone else among your USA readers has done so, and can enlighten….


    • I hadn’t realised that there might be this problem. Please let me know how you get on when you have a chance Cynthia. Maybe I’ll need to think a bit more.


  5. It worked perfectly, even with the different-sized paper. I pressed each page with a bone folder and bound the pages on the spine with a few stitches of blue embroidery floss…somehow this booklet seemed to deserve finer than metal staples……:-)


    • That’s really nice – I feel very honoured.
      I’m glad the printing was straightforward, and I’m going to change the reference to sizes of paper.


  6. I’ve got the task done, John, and now I have in my library a chapbook by John Stevens. Cool!


  7. John,
    I’ve been meaning to read The Silk Road chapbook for a week, but haven’t managed to get to it until this morning. One of the things I was surprised by was that reading it in chapbook form gives you a completely different idea about the series than reading it in wordpress does. I enjoyed the series on wordpress immensely, but I gained a much deeper appreciation of the series as a series reading the booklet cover to cover.
    What I got out of reading the chapbook is that you are, first, exploring how the ancient world impacts the everydayness of doing business in the contemporary world even in somewhat exotic settings. The difference between an international conference where powerpoints are thrown on screen is compared to a Bedouin tent meeting where the talk about business is subtly moved from the politeness about individual lives to the business at hand. In the booklet this contrast is startling: Not only the idea that there are roots to how we go about doing our business, but that things have evolved so that several languages are spoken as we do the business through technology so advanced that it would have seemed like magic to an earlier era.
    The second thing I got out of the chapbook is a clearer idea about the different characters in the series: The woman who gets locked out of her hotel room, the man who could “sell pants to a mermaid,” the man in control who slips out of the hotel to take an urgent call, the prince in the restaurant, people sitting in an airplane coming and going. This is not quite The Canterbury Tales, summoning up all of the characters of a society as they journey toward what they expect will be a holy experience. Nor is it even a complete description of the international business class characters, but it does give portray somewhat the unsettling of the world that business (whatever it is) operates in, its magic as well as bulletproof limos and hotels that you should not leave if you value your personal safety. Mixed in, of course, is the prince who luxuriates in the indirect approach to a business deal going well while engaging in the antics of sons.
    When reading this Ethel thought that you were objecting to the modern world and the harshness it brings into individual lives. She, I suspect, would prefer, in some ways, an earlier time when manners and politeness could protect one from society and the intrusion of business. I did not quite read the poems that way. I thought that you were seeing the romance of the cave, the firelit cavern, the Forum, the Bedouin tent, the Maori marai, but also seeing the tense excitement of the loathed breakfast meeting and the international conference and the disaster of being locked out of your hotel room on a balcony without a cell phone. It seems to me that you do not see us that far removed from the Bedouin tent even though you believe we may have lost some richness in the journey from the past to the present and the near future that needs to always be followed up in order to see the deal consummated.
    The third thing the chapbook gave me was a sense of collage, a snipping of various parts of a larger human story into a single story unified through time and space even as time and space shrinks into a book bought for reading while you fly over clouds, a dream dreamed over ten thousand years. What, truly, are we thinking as we become inured to the presence of what ought to be, but are not, miracles?
    I really enjoyed your experiment in publishing, John. I really did.


  8. Truly I am grateful to you Thomas, and to Ethel, for taking time out to reread these poems of mine in their chapbook form, and then for taking the trouble to share your thoughts. In fact, I’m grateful to you (and to Cynthia Jobin) for encouraging me to consider a printed booklet.
    As you have clearly appreciated, these poems were conceived as a series. They stand alone, can be read in isolation, but they work best when read together and in the intended order because there are common threads weaving backwards and forwards. Your take on them, above, is pretty much in line with my own but (as you would be the first to recognise) I’m not trying to say “this is what it means” so much as “what do you think about this?”. So, it’s great to hear what you yourself think about it.


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