Ouvert Oeuvre: Openings
Poems written by Adeena Karasick. Book visualized by Warren Lehrer.
Published by Lavender Ink Press. October, 2023.
6.25” x 8” x 96 pages. Hardcover, cloth and 3-color foil stamped paper over boards.
Smythe-sewn, archival paper, black and white interior.
This work is the first collaboration between poet, performer, cultural theorist and media artist Adeena Karasick, and designer/author and vis lit practitioner Warren Lehrer. The book features two poems—written by Karasick, visualized by Lehrer—about re-entering the world after a pandemic that never seems to end.
The title poem, Ouvert Oeuvre: Openings, is an ecstatically wrought, post-Covid celebration/trepidation of openings. It tracks the challenges of opening(s) read through socio-economic, geographic and bodily space. Employing fragmentation, layered language, and sonic wordplay, Ouvert Oeuvre: Openings explores a range of intralingual etymologies of the word “opening,” laced with post-consumerist ironic and erotic language, theoretical discourse, philosophical and Kabbalistic aphorisms. The poem foregrounds language as a material, physical organism of hope—highlighting the concept of opening as an ever-swirling palimpsest of spectral voices, textures, whispers and codes transporting us through passion, politics and pleasure as we negotiate loss and light.
Described in the book as a Panddendum, the second poem, Touching in the Wake of The Virus, navigates how in the wake of the pandemic, we must renegotiate the sense of “touch.” After being in solitude for 2+ years, and riddled with fear of further contamination, it explores the nature of touch; how do we touch, and in what ways; (what’s appropriate, inappropriate, riotous, propriotous), when we are always on the surface of contact. With reference to Derrida’s notion of how touch is fundamental to being human; Touching in the Wake of The Virus asks, can one / ever really touch anything; touch nothing / touch / without being touched / how does one touch without touching, without touching too much, where touching is already too much.
Lehrer’s sensuous, textural, textual rendering explores the same questions as it plays with and diagrams approach/withdrawal, navigating between and through a landscape of barriers and openings, seeking intimacy, daring to touch and be touched. His typographic compositions give form to the interior, emotional, metaphorical, historical and performative underpinnings of both poems. Together, the writing and visuals create a new whole that engages the reader to become an active participant in the experience of the poems. The book is a work of poetry, art, design, performance score and commentary about the shared global and very human experience of being separated and trying our best to come back together.
The book is augmented by a soundtrack recording of both poems performed by Karasick with music by Grammy-award winning composer/musician Frank London.
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