Amichai Windows – Final Touches

Over the past couple of months, I have been busy finishing up and putting the final touches on The Amichai Windows. Here is a medley of pictures to give you a sense of how my artist book is coming together. . . !

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Yehuda Amichai and God

Original copy of Amichai's poem, "Yom Kippur." Reproduced courtesy of Hana Amichai from the archives of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

Original copy of Amichai’s poem, “Yom Kippur.” Reproduced courtesy of Hana Amichai from the archives of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

Yehuda Amichai frequently argues with God in his poems.

Raised in an Orthodox household, Amichai stopped practicing when he became a teenager — much to the dismay of his father. They argued about God and Jewish ritual practice for years. In fact, Amichai continued to argue with him long after his father died.

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Amichai Windows Papercuts

When I had the idea of working with a papercut artist on The Amichai Windows, I never thought that I would end up working with the papercut artist who did the ketubah (Jewish marriage contract) when my wife and I got married years earlier. Continue reading

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Letterpressing Amichai’s poems

Pyramid open shot - web

Rick by Pyramid Atlantic

At long last, I have finished printing the poems for The Amichai Windows !

It is a real milestone. I have been at work for the last three months, mostly ignoring the rest of my life — exercising, gardening, reading, writing, socializing, etc.

Recently, my brother — Bruce Black — accompanied me to Pyramid Atlantic, took some photos and made a short video of me at work on one of the last poems that I did, My Son Is Drafted. Continue reading

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June 17, 2016 · 12:56 pm

Sneak Peek of Amichai Windows

The Amichai Windows, poem "28"

The Amichai Windows has a total of 18 poems. A cross section of poems from Amichai’s ouevre, they’re equally divided between love, war and being a Jew in the 20th century, both in the Diaspora and in Israel. Continue reading

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The Amichai Windows and Letterpress

Pyramid Atlantic Letterpress Studio

Pyramid Atlantic Letterpress Studio

Letterpress is a type of ‘relief” printing of text and images that is primarily used today for art and wedding invitations, birth announcements and other special occasions. It is done on a cylinder or platen press where a reversed and raised surface is inked and then literally imprinted into the paper itself.

The decision to use letterpress for The Amichai Windows had to do with making the words an integral part of the paper itself. I am also using various plates of images to lend the spreads texture — the outline of a Jerusalem window or a dove or a clock — and to emphasize certain words and letters. Continue reading

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Printing “The Amichai Windows”

Printing Amichai Windows

Watching one of the digital prints emerge from my Epson printer. Photo by Mellie Black

I have made the first handful of digital prints of The Amichai Windows. It’s quite exciting — it has only taken eight years or more to get to this point.

As I move along, I am finalizing design elements, adjusting image placements and colors.

The good news is that I found a place nearby, CSI, which prints exhibitions for the museums in Washington, D.C., that is helping me cut down the paper. The Japanese washi paper that I’ll be using for the poems comes in large sheets that are about 23 x 33 inches. Continue reading

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Yehuda Amichai and Archeology

Dead Sea caves

Caves at the Dead Sea where the Dead Sea scrolls were found.

“From his earliest poems, archeology has been a primary source of metaphors for Amichai’s perception of the human condition,” wrote Robert Alter, a Hebrew translator and literary scholar, in a New York Times magazine article in 1986. “He sees both the self and history as an elaborate depositing of layers in which nothing is ever entirely buried from sight, in which the earliest strata uncannily obtrude upon the latest.” Continue reading

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New Books on Yehuda Amichai

A couple of new books have recently come out about Yehuda Amichai.

First, the publication of Robert Alter’s new book,  The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai, is a compilation of a variety of previous translations as well as many poems that have never been translated into English before. Alter, who is the preeminent Hebrew literature translator and critic, has done a fine job assembling all of the poems together in one volume, old and new. Plus, he has added an informative introduction that places Amichai’s work in the context of modern poetry and contemporary Hebrew literature. Continue reading

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The Amichai Windows: Progress Update

With New Year’s and the January blizzard behind us, it’s a quiet time of year. Which is just what I need to dig in again and start making more progress on producing The Amichai Windows.

Each poem will be made as a triptych that contains an inner and an outer sheet of paper that will function like a frame. Recently, I spent a week or so experimenting on how to attach the internal sheets (which will contain the poems) and the external sheets of handmade paper. I thought that I had two options: to glue or to sew. But, happily, discovered a third way to do it that I think is going to work the best. Continue reading

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