Photographer, actor, lover of poetry, Carolee Campbell shares her immersive process marrying the art of bookmaking with a W.S. Merwin poem in her essay, “The Ideal Book: In Search of a Book Design.” (Book Club of Washington Journal)
Campbell’s own process of designing, printing and binding her “ideal book” with a W.S. Merwin’s poem, “The Real World of Manuel Córdova,” provides a powerful backdrop for the reading of the poem.
In her words:
“Of the number of books I published before 1995, none approached what was to become my ideal book: a work that both embodied my personal encounter with the literature, as well as one that extended the reader’s perspective through its tactile and visual form. With The Real World of Manuel Córdova by W.S. Merwin, I moved closer to that ideal.
The Real World of Manuel Córdova is a long, single poem consisting of forty-three fourteen-line stanzas. Upon reading it for the first time I knew I wanted to spend deep time working on it. As it turned out, I would.”
Carolee Campbell founded Ninja Press in 1984. Primarily focused on contemporary poetry, all Ninja Press publications are designed, handset in metal type, printed letterpress, and bound by Carolee.
- To read the complete essay The Ideal Book: In Search of a Book Design in PDF form, click here: CaroleeCampbellEssay
- An excerpt of The Real World of Manuel Córdova can be accessed here:The Real World of Manuel Cordova
Question to Consider: Carolee Campbell writes: “I had flooded myself with information because what poetry does not impart is information.”
Do you think it is necessary to understand the history of a poem prior to reading it? Is this helpful to you, adding to your experience, or does it hinder your enjoyment?