Granary Books, 2001. Item #2071
7 x 10 in., 48 pp., smyth-sewn in wrappers.
“I am an insomniac who goes to bed in a closet. ‘AWAKE, a., not sleeping; in a state of vigilance or action.’ ‘AWAKENING, n. A revival of religion, or more general attention to religion than usual.’ Although these are Noah Webster’s definitions, out of his writing speaks Calvin. For Calvin, the Bible contains two kinds of knowledge—ecstatic union and law. In An American Dictionary of the English Language a curtain is a cloth hanging used in theatres to conceal the stage from the spectators, while an itinerant is someone who travels from place to place and is unsettled; particularly a preacher...When Europe enters the space of its margin, the ‘Kingdom of God in America’ receives European memory into itself. In thin places bedsteads confront their own edges...Field beds have canopies at the top resembling tents. One Sunday afternoon in the gift shop at Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum...my attention came to rest on a pedestrian gray paperback. Bed-Hangings: A Treatise on Fabrics and Styles in the Curtaining of Beds, 1650–1850, with its drab cover illustration...struck me as vividly a propos. I wondered who tipped over the vase of flowers to the left of the bed in the painted East Chamber? Did the spilled flowers suggest a stray sense of comedy or inspired simplicity?”
–Susan Howe, epilogue to Bed Hangings
In Bed Hangings, poet Susan Howe and artist Susan Bee collaborate for the first time. This series of poems explores the themes of colonial America and its decorative arts, religion, and Puritanism, through a visual and verbal investigation of the metaphysics of beds, curtains and hangings. The poems and pictures play off against each other in a humorous, mystical, and sometimes mischievous manner.
Printed offset, this is from an edition of 1500 copies in wrappers, of which 26 are signed by the poet and artist. Regular edition, signed by poet and artist, as new.