Mark Strand

  18”x26” india ink and pastel transfer

18”x26” india ink and pastel transfer

When we met, Mark was living in New York. He laughed introducing me to his wife, Jules, saying, “Rob meet Jules, or Rob the Jules.” Neither of us thought it was funny, but he did. He took our collaboration seriously. He had studied art at Yale. He lined the paper to help guide him as he wrote the stanzas. He talked as he worked, and then without a pause turned the paper over, saying as he wrote out a second poem, if you mess up on the first, you’ll have another chance. I said nothing having a private rule of my own to use what I was given. 

 The challenge was how to get both poems on the same side of the paper. I lived with his sheet a long time before the solution dawned on me. I could transfer the second poem to the front side of the paper by using colour. I covered tracing paper with pastel and laid it over the front side of his sheet, turned it face down and traced the words of the second poem pressing hard. This transferred the words to the front of Mark’s paper, but backwards, creating a long rectangle of Strand words, half backwards and half in colour. I let it stand as I felt I should quit while I was ahead. 

 

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