Friday, 21 March 2008

21 kolofana poems (for jehane)

june 2006
124mm x 186mm
8 pages, printed clear film wrap, slipcased
12 copies

Six poems written while staying at Jehane's house in Kolofana, Amorgos, in July and August 2004. The photograph on the slipcase was taken from the inside of a hermit's cell, built in rocks overlooking the sea on the north side of the island. I had remembered it from a visit years before, with its channelling of water into a small rock sink in the corner and the gathering of thorny brush that served as a mattress on the rock shelf bed. More than anything though, I remembered looking through the window and seeing nothing but two types of blue - of the sky and the sea. It was a vision of perfection that I held in my mind for years, and always determined to one day return to it. When I did so, I was amazed to see the outline of an island on the horizon. Someone must have out it there in the meantime.

20 the great impediment valve & other stories

april 2006
148mm x 210mm
28 pages, printed cover
24 copies

Four stories written in 2005-06 - The Great Impediment Valve, The Handsome Senior Administrator, The Baggage Carrier and The Clergyman. The basic mechanics of the stories were the lists of homophones, homonyms and word definitions extracted from the four source texts, to which these stories otherwise bear no relation. The only rule was that the extracted words needed to be used in the same order for the new stories, which took me, and the characters, in directions they wouldn't otherwise have taken. Which was precisely the point. In this regard, it's worth quoting Harry Mathews from his foreword to Immeasurable Distances, in which he says: "The written word, like the languages of the other arts, constitutes a predetermined, autonomous system. The primacy of subject matter, or 'depth', is a distracting cultural illusion - there exists only surface and a reader bringing awareness to bear on it. In terms of the age-old poetic tradition of truth-telling, writing the truth means not representation but invention."

19 three painted caves

december 2005
156mm x 218mm
4 loose sheets in flapped folder
12 copies

Three poems from 2005, inspired by visits to three painted subterranean caves in France - Grottes de Gargas, Grotte de Villars and Cavernes de Niaux. Each cave has its own unique characteristics and atmosphere which gave rise to these meditations: in Gargas there is the low rock ceiling, in Villars there are faint calcite accretions of millennia covering the paintings, and in Niaux there is the resonant central chamber, deep within the cave and only reached after a kilometre or so of walking. Pasted inside the folder is tracing paper holding a faint impression of one of the poems, taken from the ink bleeding through wet paper. The action of water plays such a large part in what remains of paintings in the caves that this was appropriate. The impression is faint - we can just make out a few words - which is also just about our present understanding of rock painting from a distance of thirty thousand years or more, and that thanks to the work of people such as David Lewis-Williams, of the meaning and purpose of the images in the caves.

18 the concert

july 2005
148mm x 210mm
8 pages
4 copies

Contains The Concert, The Cove, The Lighted Path and The Cabaret/The Violinist. The first piece is a factual report of a concert given by a neighbour, a young violinist, one evening at a nearby 14th century church. The other pieces in the collection are based upon this initial piece of reportage. All take its themes and objects and present them in new ways, so for example, a bat that flew over the heads of the waiting audience becomes, in The Lighted Path, a  tune on a piccolo before the main piece of music. Likewise, the violinist drying her hand on her black taffeta dress becomes, in The Cove, a woman drying herself with a towel on the beach.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

17 flowers

december 2004
150mm x 200mm
14 pages, Japanese paper endpapers, orange wrappers
24 copies

Twelve intimate portraits in words, of different flowers. The portraits follow the seasons, from snowdrops and primroses through to teasels and jasmine, and were written gradually over a couple of years, beginning with thoughts about nasturtiums that came one day unbidden in the garden. the colour of the cover comes from a line in 'Lilies': Those of you who come close enough we will dust with our golden pollen.

16 gousse (plus)

may 2004
148mm x 210mm
4 pages, printed cover
6 copies

A response to the unexpected gift of the d'Antin Mss - Mots d'Heures: Gousse, Rames, which since its publication in 1966 has proved an enigma to scholars and amateurs alike. This publication appends three poems sourced from a recent find in the British Library, of three loose leaves tucked into the uncut pages of a second edition of Denis Diderot's Jacques le Fataliste, and which were found to be of the same paper (Canson et Montgolfier, watermarked 1788) as the original Mots d'Heures. Uniquely, as well as two pieces in French, a poem written in English was found, whose subject matter distinguishing the writer as a well-versed (or at least well-travelled) person. The three new poems are presented with explanatory footnotes.

15 stephen & susan

october 2003
186mm x 124mm
2 pages, hand-stitched
4 copies

A booklet for a friend to illustrate a birthday poem written by a 75 year-old Dominican friar to his 68 year-old cousin, telling her not to fear the old age into which she is growing.
Growing old? We bear it.
with quiet joy, we bear it.

14 receipts from eliza acton

september 2003

148mm x 210mm
12 pages, hand-stitched, painted cover
12 copies

An eight course meal derived from recipes featured in Eliza Acton's classic 1845 book, Modern Cookery for Private Families, to which the Oulipian rule of n+7 (replacing a noun, or in this case an ingredient, with one 7 nouns/ingredients on in the dictionary/index) has been applied. As a result of the transformations the receipts are frankly indigestible. Eliza Acton's language however, remains characteristically eloquent.

13 two weeks in may

july 2003

210mm x 148mm
9 pages, hand-stitched
3 copies

A record of two weeks in May, 1997, when I looked after a hill farm belonging to friends in the Black Mountains in Wales. lambing was over and they had taken a well-deserved holiday, leaving me alone with the task of feeding 500 sheep, a dozen chickens, three cats and two dogs for a fortnight. The may blossom was heavy that year.

12 the what’s the hen’s (for jehane)

june 2003
148mm x 210mm 
10 pages, hand-stitched, illustrated 
2 copies

A miscellany of writing from 2002-03 made as a gift for Jehane for her yearly visit from Amorgos. The booklet is illustrated with 'animorphs', ie: rusty implements ransacked from the shed and utterly ruinous for the scanner, but that will certainly have a later booklet devoted to them. The short piece on the cover is a tickler for anyone with apostrophe troubles.

11 cricket

may 2003

218mm x 154mm
15 pages, hand-stitched, hardcover
12 copies

A conjunction of pictures, courtesy of the remnants of a photographic manual c.1906, of cricketers demonstrating the techniques for playing various strokes, allied with words from publications such as The Story of the World in Pictures (1934), The Books of Knowledge and Savage Habits and Customs, and descriptions found on the backs of the cigarette card series, Anstie's People of Africa and People of Asia (both 1926) and Player's British Empire Series (1904). The persistence of casual, insidious racist stereotyping in these sources, and the certainty with which the bigotry and prejudices of colonialism are stated, find an appropriate counterpoint in the strokes of cricketers pummelling balls to the boundary.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

10 24 vacuous straplines

january 2003
210mm x 150mm
22 pages, clear film cover, screw bound
12 copies

A collection of 24 banal straplines - Wear.Share; Truly Global; Time, and Again; We are You etc. They may be already in use, maybe not - it makes no difference at all, they are all utterly meaningless. The booklet came from a feeling of being assaulted with stupid slogans after living far away from such things for a few years. The pictures are from 1960s issues of National Geographic, and all depict great bounty or its promise.

09 tomatoes

january 2003
148mm x 210mm
12 pages, with linocut of plum tomato on title page
24 copies

A collection of twenty interlinked situations, all written to include a mention in some form of an object usually unassimilable into a narrative with any degree of subtlety - a tomato - in a relatively unobtrusive way.

08 still (lingering dreams on waking in the dog days)

october 2002
140mm x 176mm
36 pages, stapled
12 copies

July and August 2003 were remarkably still considering our exposed position 1300 feet up in the Welsh borders, where strong gusting winds and an almost constant breeze are far more usual. It was the almost unnatural stillness of the day that actually woke me one morning and gave me the idea for this booklet (designed to recall a tear-off calendar), in which the very first noise on waking is allied to the images of any dreams that may have lingered in my mind.

07 ostende

august 2002
146mm x 92mm
14 page postcard book
12 copies

A little homage to the underappreciated artefact of the postcard book. This one is based on a postcard book of Ostende in the 1920s. The original blue-tinted photographs have an astounding depth and clarity of detail that allowed me to wander around in the pictures, picking out overlooked stories and details at will - boys standing around in a strange still life on a beach, a child following a black-clad lady through the streets as if she is following fate, dogs in a Tatiesque situation with their owners. The sharpness of the images meant I could create a perfectly adequate new postcard-sized image from a scene that was perhaps only 5mm square in the original.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

06 invoice

july 2002

210mm x 148mm
7 pages of the very thinnest office paper, stapled
24 copies

A rack of office labels in a stationery shop told an increasingly anguished tale of unrequited love (eg: 'This account is much overdue. Please remit.). Here, they inspired five sonnets, presented in the form of an invoice book to the ungrateful lover.

05 driving south

july 2002
104mm x 74mm
12 pages concertina style
12 copies

In June 2002 I accompanied a friend and his dog on a long drive south to Sanlucar de Barremeda in Spain, where he was to commence a new chapter of his life with his family. These are a few of the pointers along the way, from a hoopoe in a northern French supermarket car park, through the cherries in the Valle de Jerte and the first olive trees to chalk tallies on stainless steel bar tops in Sanlucar.

04 awash

june 2002
212mm x 150mm
21 pages, hand-stitched, etching on cover
24 copies

A collection of writing based around fourteen three-line metaphors for the state of dreaming. Various transformations were applied to these originals - extraction of words, recombinations of situations etc, until the final pieces in the book, their conscious input greatly reduced, were far more dreamlike than those at the beginning.

03 six translations of the top by kafka

may 2002

148mm x 210mm
16 pages, stapled
24 copies

Six translations, in English, of an English translation of Franz Kafka's short story The Top. The new translations take various forms. One is written to correspond with the same syllable pattern of the original (translation), one to the grammatical structure, one to both grammar and syllable pattern, one is a complete anagram of the original, etc. At their best, the new versions comment on the original story in surprisingly elucidatory ways.

02 advice!

february 2002

108mm x 88mm
flapped packet with 12 flash cards
12 copies

A little packet of banal advice in the form of motivational cliches (Lay your cards on the table! Stand up and be counted!). I can imagine no situation in which these would be even remotely useful.