Thursday, 24 March 2011

A New Publication - The Night Hunter

Without any doubt the most exciting project I’ve participated in over the last year has been The Night Hunter, a work now available from Z’roah Press in New York. Roni Gross, book artist and founder of Z’roah, produces limited edition artists’ books with the sculptor Peter Schell. Gross spotted my poem ‘The Night Hunter’ when it was awarded a prize at the Norman MacCaig Centenery celebrations last year. It is an honour to be added to Z’roah’s panoply of poetic works, which includes the exquisite Radiance and Repose by Geri Gomez Pearlberg.

It has been intriguing to see my work taking on a new imaginative form. Explaining the design decisions, Gross writes:

‘The structure of the book, a palm leaf, is of east asian origin, as is the form of the poem, a pantoum. The requirements of the pantoum are that the lines repeat in a specific pattern. We felt that the reader could be cued into this pattern visually, using drawn lines whose colors repeat as the language repeats. In the abstract quality of the lines is the suggestion of a remote landscape.

‘Historically in Greenland, the lack of ordinary materials like wood and metal, and even fiber for cordage, has made materials found on the beach or acquired through trade of great value. For this work, the sculptural vocabulary was chosen from primarily found material: wild harvested dogbane for cordage, driftwood for covers, scrap metal and horse bone, scavenged wood for the game board.

‘The objects, making abstract reference to the poem, allow the reader to re-experience the poem tactilely, and also participate in the telling of the story by arranging the objects on the game board.’

These elemental materials – the stone, the steel, the bone – even the driftwood and the dogsbane cord – are a perfect physical expression of the austere Arctic environment that I had tried to capture in the poem. In Greenland, driftwood washed ashore from other lands or shipwrecks was once a valuable commodity, a means of sustaining survival. What is discovered at the harbour finds a new incarnation on unfamiliar land.

Everything about Roni Gross and Peter Schell’s production improves on and enriches the original, one-dimensional poem. I am amazed by how close they have come to expressing the unspoken intentions of the work. It has been a wonderful experience to have the words taken out of my hands and see them develop and deepen in this way.

The Night Hunter
Words by Nancy Campbell
Sculpture, design and production by Roni Gross and Peter Schell
Z’roah Press, New York, 2011
Edition limited to 28 copies, signed and numbered by the artists and writer. The deluxe edition (pictured) is priced $2,500 and the standard edition (in a Cave Paper Case) $750

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