My book object is a bit on the conventional side, but let me justify that from the outset by telling you that I tried to make paper out of leaves. I will back up a bit. After our trip to the zine archive at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in Oakland, I was so inspired by all the self-made publications there that I was very excited to create my own. I was particularly interested in one zine that had homemade paper for a cover and a few others that were made out of one sheet of 8-1/2 x 11-inch paper. I brought a template for the printer paper zines back to my dorm, and I was ready to use it. But printer paper is a bit mundane, so I decided to try my hand at the homemade paper. As book artist Ulises Carrión writes in his manifesto “The New Art of Making Books,” “A book of 500 pages, or of 100 pages, or even of 25, wherein all the pages are similar, is a boring book” (Carrión 2). In search of a material that is not boring, and that could conceivably become paper, I landed on leaves. While the final product did not turn out as I had hoped (see the companion post, “How to Make Paper Out of Leaves”), I did stumble upon a deeper understanding of the pseudo-leaf-paper cover of my book.
Carrión states: “In the new art every page is different; every page is an individualized element of a structure (the book) wherein it has a particular function to fulfill” (2). Carrión would probably characterize my book as a “bookwork,” which lives in the intersection of materiality and text. Poet Amaranth Borsuk explains, “The bookwork…engages in a critique of the book and an exploration of its affordances” (144-145). While the relationship between the text and the leaf paper might not be obvious to the casual reader, I believe that the leaf paper cover is the key to understanding the text of my bookwork. As Borsuk writes, “It represents a conceptual approach to bookmaking, and one that relies on the viewer’s interaction with the object to make meaning,” (145).
The content, or text, of my bookwork is a poem called “Rebellious Nerdz Pool Criminals.” This poem represents the collective consciousness of my friend group in a single voice. However, I think the leaf cover conveys the spirit of the poem better than the text does because it illustrates the themes of brokenness, futility, and ultimately coping that are present in the text of the poem. To truly grasp the text, the reader must literally and figuratively get past the leaf cover.
Borsuk, Amaranth. “The Book as Idea.” The Book, The MIT Press, 2018, pp. 111–195.
Carrión, Ulises. “The New Art of Making Books.” Aegean Editions, 2001.