special edition

Every Christmas I make Jack a special edition of one of his poems or stories. This year I picked his poem "Antigone." If you're not familiar with Greek mythology, Antigone was the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta. The poor woman attempted to secure a respectable burial for her brother and the King punished her by entombing her alive. Very harsh!

Jack's poem references the story obliquely by talking about a visit to a former colonial prison in Tasmania and his experience in one of the tiny cells. I've pasted the poem below. You read the left column first and then the right.


Tomb, bridal-chamber, eternal prison in the caverned rock, whither go to find mine own?
– R. C. Jebb

When I woke up in
the melancholy city
everything was the colour of rain        all of the garish
of the previous evening
obscured by
the pitter-patter
of dread                                          The books I was reading
dissolved into pulp
those volumes of
lapidary thoughts
intangible as fog
as that happiness                              oh so elusive
what’s new
you say
Once in Tasmania
at an old colonial prison
I walked into one of the cells             there was no-one around
so I closed the door
just to feel what it was like
I lasted two seconds
people go mad
they say                                          Imagine a room
a white room
no doors
no chairs
too narrow
to sit down                                      too low
to stand
my marriage bed


For this design project I decided to go for a very simple altered book, inspired by the example below from Workshop Press where Richard Killeen's Sampler catalogue, with an essay by Francis Pound, was reworked into Interiors, with an essay by Anna Miles. The original text was effaced with a marker pen and large stickers printed with the text of Miles' essay.

Here's the catalogue I'm working with:

You'll see that I'm deliberately not mentioning the artist's name in case she happens to be googling herself one day and comes across this post. It's just possible she mightn't appreciate having her catalogue cut up! The catalogue is filled with eerie circular photographs of the now empty rooms of an abandoned residential treatment facility for alcohol and drug dependency on Rotorua Island. It seemed a perfect fit for Jack's poem!

Firstly I cut out each page, selecting the nine pages that had an image on the front and the back.

I broke the poem into nine sections and typed each one on my trusty vintage typewriter, trying to arrange the text on windows and walls of the rooms.

I cut out the circles leaving tabs on each side

 then I taped together the tabs in sequence to form a frieze

the poem can be hung on the wall by pinning the tabs at each end

 I used the catalogue cover to make an envelope for the Antigone frieze

 and I added another room on the front with the title and Jack's name

And there you have it - Jack's 2015 Christmas edition.
I'm pretty sure he's going to love this.


Richard said…
That's fascinating. I liked that poem, eerie and, in a way, quite moving. Formally interesting also.

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