inside silas marner a poem

Well, not strictly a formal found poem in that the found phrases used are not in the order they were found in the text of Silas Marner…This is more the story of an Art piece that sprouted at first more of a concrete or visual found poem. This is the context: I decided to make an art object from an old book that I found while perusing the offerings on a sale table at my local second-hand book store, which turned out to be Silas Marner, by George Elliot.  Fifty cents, a done deal.

First I selected phrases from the book, printed them in a large font and cut them into strips before folding the pages to form sculptural shapes. This was an absorbing experience, watching teh forms emerge, deciding which folds would make a satisfying shape. Once the folding was done, I added the phrases so that they stuck out from the folded pages, and looked for various Elliot-related images on the internet to print out, clip, and add to the pages.

Reinforcing necessary pages with handmade papers, I added such things as small maps and larger fold-outs of the area where she lived, images of her face, book cover designs of more modern reprints, period clothing.

I’ve not mentioned yet how much fun I was having with this project.  Suddenly (oh, that old saw, suddenly…) it occurred to me that the phrases that fluttered out as if they were the feathers or individual hairs of some exotic yet verbally-based imaginary creature could be made into a ‘found’ poem of sorts, and I surprised myself that I hadn’t thought of doing this until the poem pieces were already protruding from the pages.

Putting the poem together reminded me somewhat of one way to form a cento from other poets’ poems, and as in that process, I looked for what made a poem, but here that poem was a George Elliot poem, her words, her mind, her fascinating phrases.  I leave you with an excerpt from:

the vixenish temper which is sometimes supposed to be a necessary condition

like a raven flapping its slow wing across the sunny air/ Silas would rather part with his life than with Eppie/ I’ve been up into the top attic, but there’s no seeing anything for trees/ an hypothesis which covered a few imaginary calamities

Making this little Art object/poem from an old book cheers my heart just a little, one less book in the landfill, at least for a while.


there’s something

There’s something about deciding to create a short edition of little handmade books, the planning, the figuring out how what poem to use, how to lay it out.

20160724_150621_resizedYou decide on a set of flutter books. You want it to be simple, to be made from one sheet of paper, and you’ve done this before.

There’s something to choosing the poem, to thinking it’s ready to print, then editing and re-editing.

There’s something about the decision to use a cover illustration, deciding on the kind of image you want, and figuring out where to find it.

You don’t know how to use those graphics programs, the highly technical ones, don’t understand how to use its layers, so it’s back to one you acquired, around the time of the dinosaurs. It came with a camera in 2006, and is no longer available even online.

So you make do, print out proof after proof. Move the illustration a little higher, try a soft edge on it. Choose a title font. Try it in different points.

20160724_151001_resizedNow that you’ve printed proofs, you reread the poem. There’s something that isn’t ringing the way you want the poem to ring. Rewrite a line. Rewrite another. Reposition new text.

Refold the booklet, reprint using a better grade of paper. There’s something about the careful folding of it, and the one cut you have to make. There’s something peaceful about lining up the corners.

There’s something about signing, numbering, dating what you’ve made. There they are, ready. You’re not sure exactly, what they are ready for; it doesn’t matter.