Ruth Laxson's POWER POEM reviewed by Will


The complete text of Ruth Laxson's power poem is as follows: POWER mad POWER struggle POWER driven POWER Play over POWERED cleaning POWER high POWERED seat of POWER black POWER.... white POWER.... Personal POWER.. POWER is? POWER is only a shift in relationships 

Ruth Laxon, southern book artist currently in her eighty fourth year, describes POWER POEM as her first baby artist book in a note I discovered tucked into the first page in a used pile at Unnameable, a bookstore in north Flatbrush. It is from the artist to a man named Alan, who is informed that the book is in the MOMA library and then thanked for his impulsive generosity. Given where I found it, and that it is hand numbered 13 of 100, I wonder if Alan is also superstitious.

I am proud of my special little find. Each spread is half: on the left there is a small bit off language, one word attached to, before or after, a capitalized POWER on some declension. the right side is divided horizontally, one half is black, alternating between the top and the bottom, depending the page you are looking at (with one exception).

The top half of the right page is an approximation or attempt to show the shape that text can take in a book, to show the form, using dashes, punctures, squares, waveforms, grids without the content, while perhaps admitting that this is impossible, in the sense that the form needs to be shown again and again using a collection of demonstrative objects, just as power is said again and again.

The most striking parts of the book occur at the beginning and end, starting with the only true transgression of what is printed, where the first right page is punctured from behind with a series of dots in the shape of a free verse poem, and at the end when the black and white horizontal split of every left frame ends, and the split becomes a diagonal staircase, black and white, with no demonstration of a form of text on the right frame (POWER is/only/a/shift/in/relationships is what is written on the left frame).


categories [ ] login or register to post comments | printer friendly version