I'm super excited for Of Lamb, the new book from poet Matthea Harvey and artist Amy Jean Porter, so although it hasn't been published yet I thought I'd share a sneak peek. The book is one long erasure poem by Harvey accompanied by beautiful and weirdly funny illustrations by Porter.
I went to see Harvey speak about a year ago, and she talked a little bit about the process of making this book. It started as an erasure taken from a biography called A Portrait of Charles Lamb by Lord David Cecil. Erasure, for those who don't know, is a kind of found-object poetry where the poet blacks out sections of an already existing work, keeping a few words to make the lines of the poem. Here's an example from the really awesome treated book A Humument by Tom Phillips:
Harvey explained that Charles Lamb had a sister named Mary whose name kept popping up throughout the biography. Mary? Lamb? It must have been irresistible, so the poem became the chronicle of a romance between Mary and her little Lamb. Then Porter, whose specialty is detailed, rainbow-hued drawings of animals uttering sweet nothings (her previous projects include "North American Mammals Speak the Truth and Often Flatter You Unnecessarily" and "Birds of North Africa Speak French and English Both At Once"), stepped in to illustrate Mary and Lamb's love.
The result: I can't get over it. Harvey and Porter have taken a book about a stuffy second-rate 19th century writer, written by an equally stuffy aristocrat-cum-biographer, and turned it into the very colorful tale of a woman's deep love for her woolly friend. But if that isn't enough to get you excited for this book, how about some inexplicable celebrity cameos? Is that Oprah? Wait...Peter Jennings? Take a look at more illustrations from the book at Porter's Website, All Species All the Time. Of Lamb will be published by McSweeney's this March.