August 19, 2015 § Leave a comment
Moving from the classics to prize-winning contemporary poets: Morri Creech & Steven Brown.
We first published Morri Creech in The Journal of Contemporary Photography. John Wood then invited him to create a collection of poems for two books to be published with the work of Robert ParkeHarrison, Listening to the Earth and The Book of Life (with Shana Parkeharrison). This collection of 20 poems were subsequently published in Field Knowledge (Waywiser Press, 2006), which won the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. In 2014, Creech was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
The Music of Farewell
BY MORRI CREECH
Descending for the last time to the underworld, The soul of Orpheus addresses the audience.
What sense in listening to the sun-shot wind
croon through the autumn branches, once the song
behind the song is finished? Always you listened
with your heads tilted toward the absolute
as if the gods would sing to you, while the long
phrase of my sorrow held your world together,
your world of stripped fields and the ripening fruit
that weighs each thick bough earthward. Everywhere
you turned, the lavish music of farewell
lent consequence to things, so that desire
itself became fulfillment to your ear.
And though the mist that swept the cold laurel
was neither Apollo stroking Daphne’s hair
nor Ceres weeping at the doors of hell,
though nothing I sang could raise Eurydice
up from the mute depths again, note by note,
it makes no difference now for me to say
the gods are silent, or that the world seems less
for what the hours and seasons claim from us.
More than the sounds that set the stones and trees
in place, and that arrange both shade and light,
a sad music ripens in the heart; caught
between oblivion and paradise,
it enters the world as loss, though in such ways
that the cadences of grief resound as praise.
And so God spun the wind to tick time forward.
It teased gold from the leaf, flung spores and seeds.
The beasts’ fur billowed; long-legged shore birds
swung their hunger above a froth of reeds.
The restless trees leaned, bent, all pitch and wring.
Not yet the serpent’s tryst in the grass; not yet
Abel slain in the field, the Lord’s voice calling.
Still, the earth toiled toward its purposes:
and seethe of larvae started in the mud.
Rain scoured the stone to spill its mineral dust.
Straight rivers cut their convoluted maze.
And as the mouse twitched in the owl’s long gaze
God wept, and wept for the mosquito’s lust
as it rose up toward the heaven of the blood.
Steven Brown is a poet (finalist for the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize), photography critic, and utopian scholar who writes for some of the world’s leading photographic publishers, including multiple titles for 21st Editions. He was selected as one of the Best New Poets of 2010 and is currently working on his doctoral dissertation at Harvard University.
BY STEVEN BROWN
Tongue, you’ve loosened up the cry
in my head like a bird’s, or like a bird
you’ve tried the touch that a sky
and breath can melody with Xesh.
Bone, it has been worth it, yes?-the breaks
that as a boy reversed the music
of our motion, and taught our body
sincerity of awe with every step
against the universe of fated falls.
Eyes, what have we seen
that wouldn’t stir or bend the brain
of The Architect’s mother,
whose tooth Wrst struck the egg,
the egg that still feels
like wonder in our hands?
let us raise the egg to our lips,
kiss its shell until we’ve broken through
to kiss her wings, her face. Nothing
is exempt from our embrace.
The Angel Oaks
Our fathers called it Heaven. Their fathers,
the Vault. Whatever the vernacular,
all chambers have one. And so the heart?
And so the heart. Our fathers called it
Temple of the Faithful Bones. Their fathers,
Dwelling Place of the Lord.
We call it, ungracefully, the cardiac arrest.
The atrophy and stress of the valves,
the veins’ limp pump and stoppage, or else,
an attack. Our fathers called it failure.
Their fathers, the Fall. Whatever it is,
it breaks apart the wall and vault together.
A thousand thousand bloodless branches
reach but cannot reach. It never was their fault.
Born without simple skin to keep pace
with loneliness and pain, love’s sudden rush,
their end was written from the start.
May 27, 2014 § Leave a comment
It was at the International Design Fair in New York that Jerry Uelsmann walked up and introduced himself. With white hair, horn-rim glasses, and accompanied by his well-known wife, artist Maggie Taylor, Jerry proposed that we do a project together. I explained to Jerry that because of the unique nature of how his images were made we would require that he personally print and sign each of the prints in order for us to produce a Silver Edition project with him. He immediately said he would. I then said that they would have to be 16×20 inches, not a common size for him. To that he said “yes” again.
During a trip to Jerry and Maggie’s home in Florida and after two days of looking at his life’s output, which totaled roughly 5000 prints, we selected ten images. Five prints were included in each of the two 20×24 inch volumes. The set was accompanied by an additional portfolio volume of 20 poems by Harvard’s Steven Brown, each inspired by one of Jerry’s photographs, as well as an introduction by John Wood which discusses Uelsmann’s and Brown’s work and their intersections.
With Jerry and all those who make up 21st Editions, we produced the most ambitious project in our 16 year history. The brilliant brushed aluminum bindings by Daniel Kelm and his bindery incorporated Kelm designed special hinges that allow for the aluminum pages to be removable so that the signed silver-gelatin photographs mounted to them could be exhibited individually. The final result was both architecturally and bibliographically stunning.
Jerry labored for four solid months over the prints to produce a small edition of only 25 numbered and two Publisher’s sets. Each week he would call me and tell me that it was the most difficult printing job he had ever done. He would then sometimes follow with an email that would contain a limerick. Jerry loves limericks and shared them with us so often that we got used to looking for them.
We announced Moth and Bonelight (Silver Edition, 2010) and it sold out in the course of 24 hours. We were astounded and pleased, since this was our most expensive production to date.
In addition to the Silver Edition, there was a smaller 14×18 inch Platinum Series portfolio of the same images that were printed by 21st Editions under the direction of Jerry Uelsmann. Each of the ten unbound prints were signed and dated by Jerry and in an edition of 55, plus 15 Artist’s sets. The set also includes the 20 poems by Steven Brown printed letterpress.
March 26, 2013 § Leave a comment
“The word Surrealism used in reference to the 20th Century art movement founded by André Breton is a useful term. Used elsewhere, it is less so and means little more than “strange.” In fact, the word has become virtually meaningless because it only suggests that the artist’s imagery combines aspects of the world in ways that do not exactly mimic everyday reality—but that is what every painting and every other work of visual art does to some degree. All visual art has an element of strangeness about it, if only because three dimensional objects are transformed into two or flesh is changed into paint, marble, bronze, wood, ivory, steel, and so forth. The visual arts are by definition a strange-making of the world. And so are poetry and fiction. And that is their thrill and their power. That is why we like them, why we need them. They free us from the quotidian reality of our own lives by giving us something that seems more true, more real, and more meaningful—even in their depiction of lives as commonplace as our own. That is the way of art because it demands artifice and structure while life only demands continued biological functions. Though art only mimics life, at times it can seem more vital, more alive, than the real thing.”
January 20, 2011 § Leave a comment
Just back from Photo LA. On considering and reflecting on our success, a few thoughts on what it means to me:
…the ability for me to manifest my passion, as well as the passion of others through the making of 21st Editions/Legacy Editions books and show them in a great city like Los Angeles. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 11, 2011 § Leave a comment
As the 21st Editions/Legacy Editions team leaves for Photo L.A. in Los Angeles, amidst the changes in both the economy and the show itself, our excitement and enthusiasm for the show and for this new year continues to grow.
Accompanying me to Photo L.A. will be Pam Clark and Crissy Welzen, both of whom will be designing our booth (B-208) which will be found in the far left corner of the show. Our strong optimism for 2011 has been underscored by a very strong response to the announcement of Yamamoto Masao, the first title in our new Prism monograph series of books, and the initial sales of it in the first week. We have taken many orders from new and ongoing collectors, as well. Yamamoto and his work are clearly loved in the world of contemporary fine-art photography. « Read the rest of this entry »