Lithographs by ENID MARK

Sample pages...

Susan Stewart wrote The Elements,
this long poem in four parts,
in collaboration with artist Enid Mark
who created the book's visual form.

The poet, author, of three previous books of poetry and a MacArthur Fellow, called on the long Western history of myths and literature on AIR, FIRE, EARTH and WATER; in the end she created a sequence unified by the themes of love and strife traditionally associated with the elements.

Working with a wide and textured page provided a frame for exploring new versions of the poetic line and spacing of stanzas. The poem unfolds in time as a meditation on time and mortality.

The Heraclitean sense of the physical world wavering between states of emergence and disappearance is revealed to be the story as well of books in their materiality and of the voices recorded briefly within them. Each of the sections of The Elements —AIR, FIRE, EARTH and WATER—is defined by a visual image. This image is introduced as a horizontal band that has its own rhythm, fading and increasing in dimension and intensity as the pages turn.

On the final page opening within each section, three color lithographs bleed over the edges of the 11 x 30 inch spread of the book. Throughout the work, the concrete forms of the sections of the poem, unique to this volume with its wide format, become an integral part of the visual imagery.

The lithographs were conceived with a camera but manipulated digitally with Photoshop software in order to generate the films used to create the duotone and tritone images. These films were transferred to plates and printed as hand lithographs.

Limited to forty-five numbered copies, signed by the poet and the artist. 2002.