My most recent project, Wet Cement, came to me through two materials, both given to me by friends, and neither of which I could figure out what to do with on its own. The first being a booklet of paper samples from the Strathmore Paper Company, and the second being a pair of Martha Stewart Alphabet Punches. The samples pages were all different colors, textures, and sizes, which made it impossible to create a project with any consistency. The punches were difficult to use because the letters couldn't be punched out individually; one punch contains the first half of the alphabet, and the other punch contains the second half.
I remember I was standing in my living room, and my wife, Allison, asked me what I planned to use the Alphabet Punches for, and I said, "I have no idea," and then the idea suddenly rushed in, like I was receiving a transmission from another planet.
Essentially, Wet Cement, is a collection of concrete poems that have yet to set. Published in an edition of 38, each copy contains 3 unique poems. The letters to each of these poems are housed in individual envelopes. Because of the varying colors, shades, and textures of the paper, no two poems are identical. Some share similarities, but most are vastly different from one another. It's important to note that the poems are more than just random assortments of letters. Each one was composed with one of three general ideas in mind.
A. Is a poem based on text. This could be a visual haiku, creating a scene or a snapshot of a moment. It could be a one-word poem. Some of these pieces were based off of poems by Basho, Aram Saroyan, Nelson Ball, & bpNichol.
B. Is a poem based on texture. These are, for the most part, larger pieces. In some poems the idea of texture is approached through color. In other cases, the shapes of the letters. Sometimes it's a combination of the two.
C. Is a minimalist concrete poem.
When I started working on this project, I hoped to photograph each poem as it was completed; a sort of visual index. Because each poem is unique, I think I'm going to feel a small loss each time I sell a copy. How many poems do we write, that we pass on, never to hear from again? I did take a few photographs, but not as many as I'd originally hoped. While looking over those first few photos, I realized that the static images were nothing like poems themselves. The poems were fragile. Stalled, but still in motion. Frozen, but about to be thawed. Paused, but about to be rewritten into a pile, then dumped back into the envelope, where it will be a poem that no one will ever read.
Wet Cement is being sold for $12.00 + shipping. Check out our CHAPBOOKS page for more information.
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