Where does the book end?
Contained and/or not contained
Always a desire to un-bind the book. An early (in my work in poetry and books) exhibition created with others in Madison, Wisconsin, at the Elvehjem Museum, we titled Breaking the Bindings. One of the great early inspirations was an installation-size walk-climb-through book by Alison Knowles. When creating the book Wheel, by Gil Ott (a much-missed and most intriguing and graceful poet whose Collected Poems will soon be published), the text pages of the book are visible at top and bottom of the outer view of the book, because the cover, a sheet of handmade paper made by Tom Leech, was intended to be smaller than the text pages, so as not to entirely cover, and give the sense that the book did not end ("the wheels on the bus go round and round"). And perhaps most consistently over a two-decade period, collaborations with Anne Bunker & Chuck Koester's Orts Theatre of Dance (later re-named OTO Dance). Such works as St. Lucy/Oedipus, with a 20-page script I wrote for the dance, collaborating with the dancers, choreographer, composer, and the visual artist Margaret Bailey Doogan. Or Urban Gaits, again a multi-artist collaboration featuring my partner in life, the visual artist Cynthia Miller, as well as Nancy Solomon, Bunker, Koester, & a company of dancers. All of these works function to me as books, a term that often has nothing to do with paper and pages, and which requires a re-definition of what it means to "read."
And possibly the most successful such collaboration, with Miller, in an urban botanical garden, Aviary Corridor -- really her work of coexistence of colorful but non-insistent rings and placards and beads of color through a walkway, that one could either notice or not. But once one began to notice, the work was transformational, i.e. transforming one's relationship with space. And to me this is what the book might do, transform relationships with space and time, through words and more. Later Aviary Corridor became a small chapbook/pamphlet of words and art.
I think of this now as I begin a weekend of collaboration with Miller on a small piece of love and drawing and words. Yesterday I re-read an essay, "Wounded Joy," by Barbara Guest in which she writes that “the most important act of a poem is to reach further than the page so that we are aware of another aspect of the art. This will introduce us to its spiritual essence. This essence has no limits.” She calls this the “delimiting” power that she says all of the arts share, and it is what I would want a book to share with the world.