For those curious about the general sort of thing I envision Evernost becoming, I offer Four Zines of Elsewhere: an ebook on Amazon (paperback coming soon, I hope!). Here’s the link.
Over the past few years, I’ve put together these little hand-sewn zines (if that’s the right word; it seems imperfect, but a lot closer than my original term, chapbook) of my art and poetry. I’ve sold them only locally, with the exception of one ebook. The form is inspired by William Blake — in that image and text are of near-equal importance — and to some extent the subject is too (difficult nontraditional spirituality) although I doubt I actually agree with Blake on most points.
I tend to think of myself as being about substance rather than form. For instance, I do not have the fascination many of my friends seem to with books as physical objects; although, for many years, I read compulsively, I like reading because it’s an intense, memorable way of absorbing information or stories or feelings at one’s own pace, not for its own sake. Likewise, in art, I usually prefer the most direct possible means of expression. I like using markers better than painting, and painting much better than printmaking or photography. The more time I spend being creative and the less time I spend trying to master complex technical processes, the happier I am.
Or, at least, so I thought — until I started making books. I really, really enjoy designing books, printing books, sewing books…and the sensation of pride at the end of the process when I know I personally have made the object sitting in front of me. I am, alas, still not the kind of perfectionist I would need to be in order to make exquisite art objects; I have a hard time bringing myself to care about widows and orphans, about hyphenating perfectly, about all the finicky little things my internet research suggests I ought to care about. But — surely I can make zines. The point of zines is that they’re not absolutely perfect. They’re spontaneous and raw. They’re low-budget. They don’t require professional services or professional training.
Accordingly, the zines in Four Zines of Elsewhere are not perfect (though I’ve fixed them up a bit since I first printed them in town). The poetry in them is not perfect; the design is not perfect; some of the illustrations are much better than others. Still, I love them all, and I think (I hope, I almost believe) there’s a lot to love in them even if you’re not me — and, for better or for worse, I’ve never seen anything like them.
But perhaps I should describe them in more detail.
The first, Of Elsewhere: An Exoskeleton (which I’m also selling on Amazon as a 99c standalone here), is also, perhaps, the hardest to summarize, explain, or describe. It’s sort of a soul’s progress through the metaphorical seasons — from despair to anticipation to fulfillment to rebellion and loss to despair and to hope again — embodied in poems or short sections of poetic prose set against complex, expressive artwork. If I were to call it my least favorite, I would point out that it lacks a coherent style and both poetry and artwork are sometimes not up to par; if I were to call it my favorite, I would say it is the deepest, most substantive, and perhaps (in a roundabout way — more on this later) the most heartfelt. I associate it with the whole year or, perhaps, with April.
The second, Of the Firebirds, is an entry in a modern bestiary, complete with detailed and questionably-related artwork in the margins, sumptuous drop-caps, and curious metaphysical speculations worked into the fantastical description. The quasi-medieval illuminations were a ton of work and a ton of fun — I did them all, even the large stretches of color, with Pigma Micron pens, directly on a printout of the text. I called said illuminations questionably-related; they connect more to larger Evernostian themes than to the text of the zine. I associate it with July in my mind, because of the bright colors and sharp outlines.
The third, Of Sorrow’s End, consists of a single poem by that title; the poem is half a retelling of a fairy tale I wrote and half…I don’t know quite what. Perhaps a meditation on the miraculous ability of time to traverse infinity? Perhaps simply an evocation of crossing a desert? In any event, the text of the fairy tale itself is shrunk, overlapped with itself, and turned into background art on some pages (it is not meant to be read, though I hope tantalizing hints of meaning will emerge from it); others feature gel pen art (alas, I would have to find someone willing to print in fluorescent ink to recreate the effect) that, I hope, brings to mind scorching heat and exhaustion. I associate it with August — with the time of summer’s greatest heat and (comparatively) least light, a time of (at once) rage, intensity, and ennui, and confusion. (I…really don’t love August, in case you can’t tell.)
I approached Of Unreal Identities rather differently: I collected various self-portraits (defined very loosely; even the representational ones are often of other people) and paired them with public-domain quotations and my own musings on identity. I’d originally done it in quarto — by folding regular 8.5″ x 11″ paper into four segments, not two as I usually do — so I had to rearrange and condense. I think I associate this volume with November, with a turn inward and toward ordinary reality after the storms of autumn, though January seems a possibility too.
Well: that should do it for the day, but stay tuned for more thoughts on Evernost, self-publishing, my reading, and the usual whatever-happens-to-be-on-my-mind. I am (I know I keep saying this, but I feel I might succeed this time) going to try to post more regularly. Thank you to everyone who’s stuck with me thus far.
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