Excerpt Tuesday – Lady Lazarus – Plath

Lazarus_Plath2This was my first really “big” illustration attempt, posted not long after I started Illustrated Poetry. It was my first try at block printing and it wound up involving about a dozen trips to the art store (First day: “What do you need a $20 roller thingy for? I don’t need that.” Next day: “One rubber ink roller, please.”), a complete set carved with the letters backwards, and near asphyxiation by fumes (“non-toxic” ≠ odorless!). But this piece holds a special place in my heart, maybe because the “art mountain” I had to scale seemed so high. The excerpt is from “Lady Lazarus” by Sylvia Plath: read the whole poem here. All four women saints are Linocut prints, designed, cut, inked, and printed by me.

Abbreviations (with links to wikipedia, if anyone is curious about what is known or traditionally believed about each saint): St. Lucy = Saint Lucy, St. Cath = Saint Catherine of the Wheel, St. J.d’Arc = Saint Joan of Arc, St. M. Mag. = Saint Mary Magdalene

 

 

21 comments

    1. Thank you, Alice! I agree with you – “Lady Lazarus” is one of my favorites too – every time I read it (and that is now many many times!) I discover something new or find another layer. Have a great weekend!

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    1. Thank you so much! I do recommend it and lino blocks are small-scale friendly. Once I ironed out my rough start, it was a blast to do the carving and inking – pulling the block away to see the final result was thrilling. Each print was a little different and unique. “Lady Lazarus” ends so powerfully that the block print style felt like a good fit.

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    1. Thank you! I do want to do more block prints – I (re)posted this partly to inspire myself. I was at the art store this last weekend to buy a new newsprint pad and wound up bringing home a lino block too! It is currently sitting unblemished on my desk. I will change that! 🙂

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    1. I agree! That is a beautiful poem. There are so many layers. I smiled big and wide when I saw “Wallace Stevens” and “Red Barchetta” in the same line – well done! And I think the question you pose at the end is an important one. Personal history as history (or what even constitutes it?) is becoming more important, more accessible, more ever-present yet intangible with the internet and social media. Thank you so much for sharing!

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      1. Thank you! That poem took years to make its way into the world. It was important for me as a poet because it was my first time grasping within my own work that poetry doesn’t have to have the answers to the questions it asks. I think some of the best ever doesn’t.

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  1. Your Linocut prints are wonderful. “Lady Lazarus” is such a strong and powerful piece, and your choice of medium, (the gouging and cutting of the blocks), along with subjects, (women saints), are a perfect compliment. Spot on fantastic. Thank you for sharing this treat.

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    1. Thank you! I had always been an admirer of block prints, but I had never attempted one myself. But, as you said, “Lady Lazarus” is so strong and jarring, I felt it demanded something equally radical from me. The technical difficulties definitely made the moment when I pulled the block off the paper and had a decent print all the sweeter!

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