Saturday, December 03, 2011

Diversion: Poetry from Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, Thanks to Claire Van Vliet

Thursday evening I slipped away from the desk for a bit, to see the new exhibit of pulp paintings by Vermont and Canadian book artist Claire Van Vliet at St. Johnsbury's medical center, Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital. The images on the corridor walls capture moonrise, plowed fields, wild mountains -- some in Van Vliet's trademark earth tones, some in provocative azure and rose shades that call forth exotic visions of the hidden wonder of the northern lands that Van Vliet portrays. Those appreciating the show were mostly authors, artists, a craftsman, a poet or two.

Van Vliet drew out some samples of a new creation to show us: a "trade" edition of GONE by Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, poet and president of Marlboro (VT) College. McCulloch-Lovell's poems have been slow to come forward, as her positions in arts leadership caused her to hold them close and not flaunt them in any way. Earlier this year, Claire Van Vliet and her team of artisans, including Andrew Miller-Brown and Aubrey Holden, created an elegant limited edition of GONE, printed on Richard de Bas Apta paper that had been handmade at the late, lamented Hayle Mill in Maidstone, Kent, England. Complete with slipcase, the collection emerged in an edition of only 100 copies, all signed by the author and artist (and including a haunting lithograph by Claire Van Vliet),

The trade edition is a modest, machine-printed softcover, wrapped in paper that bears the tinted cloud forms of one of Van Vliet's pulp paintings. It's likely to sell for about $12 when it reaches the market, perhaps early next year. This will make McCulloch-Lovell's poems much more available to readers, and is a lovely gift from the press and poet.

But here's a special opportunity: Vamp & Tramp, Vicky and Bill Stewart's fine press bookshop in Birmingham, Alabama, has the final limited-edition copy of GONE available for purchase. Check it out here -- I hope one of you seizes the moment and captures this copy.

Meanwhile, watch for the new trade form of the book. It provides an enchanting vista of rural life, of Vermont beauty, and of the elegance of a fine poet.
Clouds, by Claire Van Vliet, a pulp painting shown at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center.

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