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Precessional: double-page spread from Eleanor Wilner, Precessional (ELM Press, 2004)
An exhibition curated by Jessica Ryan, Ada Class of 2017 accompanying the 2016 Enid Mark Lecture in Contemporary Book Arts & Poetry. On view through July 31.
In her lecture, “Book Artist as Muse: The Story of a Collaboration,” the poet Eleanor Wilner will discuss what it is like to work with an artist, in this case Enid Mark, to create a book that combines word and image. Eleanor Wilner is a prize-winning American poet, editor, and teacher, known for poetry that engages politics, culture, history, and myth. Her proximity to artist and book publisher Enid Mark—both located in or near Philadelphia—led to a close friendship and collaborations on Mark’s limited edition books. Mark’s ELM Press issued books of poetry, designed by her and paired with her illustrations. Eleanor Wilner’s poetry is included in four ELM Press books: The Bewildering Thread (1986), Ars botanica (1998), The Inconstant Moon (2002), and Precessional (2004).
Precessional grew out of a particularly close collaboration between Mark and Wilner, words and images spawning one another as the book developed into a suite of nine poems in which natural and mythic patterns form and dissolve as time and light play over them. All of the poems, with one exception, were written for this book and were previously uncollected. Wilner also wrote a series of poems for Mark’s last book, Out of the Labryinth. Design and preparations for this book were complete when Enid Mark died in 2008, but it has never been printed.
Wilner will present the third annual Enid Mark Lecture in Contemporary Book Arts & Poetry. The Mark lecture is given in honor of the memory of writer and book artist Enid Epstein Mark, Smith College class of 1954. Enid Mark was passionate about the written and the visual. From the 1980s until shortly before her death in 2008, she created and published books in limited editions. Mark carefully considered all components of her books: text (her own words or those written by others, many of them modern women poets); imagery (her own artwork); type design and layout; binding. In creating her books she collaborated with a small group of New England printers and bookbinders.
An accompanying exhibition, Eleanor Wilner: Finely Printed, curated by Jessica Ryan, Ada Class of 2017, is on view outside the Mortimer Rare Book Room (third floor) through May 27. The exhibition features Wilner’s poetry as it is printed in limited edition books.
Eleanor Wilner, “History as Crescent Moon,” in The Inconstant Moon (ELM Press, 2002).
Barbara BlumenthalMortimer Rare Book Room