poem index

Lyn Hejinian and Emilie Clark: Unexpected Art

Year

2005
Lyn Hejinian and Emilie Clark: Unexpected Art

"When an art nut attends the circus he or she expects almost all of what is happening," writes poet Lyn Hejinian in a book that is both artful and unexpected. The book, The Traveler and the Hill and the Hill, is a collaboration between Hejinian and artist Emilie Clark. Featuring thirty-one Clark monoprints and thirty-one Hejinian poems, the book was printed in a run of sixty-one by Granary Books in 1998. Still available for purchase, each book costs $4,500.

The book was created as a dialogue between the two artists. In the first half, Clark responds, via layered monoprints, to Hejinian’s poems; in the second half, Hejinian’s poems respond to Clark’s dramatic images and bold colors. Granary Press describes the outcome as "a series of fairy tales gone awry—gone from the secure world of familiar knowledge and avuncular authority imparted to children into a hilarious, dark and dramatic space in which thinking happens in the seams between sentences."

The Traveler and the Hill and the Hill is one of two collaborations between Hejinian and Clark. The other, The Lake, a The Lake nineteen-page book published in 2004 by Granary, brings the artwork and poetry onto the same page—the words are hand-written onto the images. In The Lake, Hejinian’s poetry, which is often classified as "experimental," pairs perfectly with Clark’s layered images, which employ watercolor, pen, and photograph. Of the effort, Hejinian wrote:

Indeed, "exploration" was to be one of the themes of the work, and in retrospect the work can be seen as a study of an ecosystem, in which the lake figures both as a literal and a metaphorical landscape. Language and visual imagery were the ecological elements in the system of the work, as the various material forms above, around, and below the lake's surface were in that of the site. We were interested in the interrelationships, simultaneities, and the extents of layers; we were thinking about complex emotional and aesthetic terrains along with the literal one we were investigating. We imagined the lake as a site and described such a site as being constituted by all possible responses to it.

Between sentences, among interrelationships, and under "the extents of layers," Hejinian and Clark have explored the edges between poetry and image, and found the lines between the two to be less distinct than they had otherwise imagined. As Hejininia writes in The Lake:

  an overlapping
differs	     from a shared
                 aftermath



Images from The Traveler and the Hill and the Hill and The Lake courtesy of Granary Books. Used with permission.