Random Reports is a series of poems by Barbara Henry derived from vocabulary lists chosen by chance and choice from the first section of The New York Times. They reflect the spirit of the day and are specifically dated, and the subject of the poem is strictly a result of the wordlist.
They are often titled from the headlines. Many many years ago I asked Barbara to allow me a binding gathering the volumes 1, 2 and 3. Time being a theme on all I try my hand at, this sat unfinished for about 7 years. After an involved first attempt with low-relief carvings of scaffolding layers on wood covers that were deep enough for the gauging but too thick for the binding, its potential baffled the binder: thanks to Barbara’s kaleidoscopic talent with words, the number of design venues to explore was vast. Not to mention the weight of my own deflation. Little did I realize how ambitious that first attempt had been. It might photograph well, but oh it functions poorly. Under deadline-pressure I even went ahead and submitted it out to be handled. Oh the shame.
Trusting the process kernel originally glimpsed, however, I embraced as propelling force a writing technique known as “hasta pronto adelante“: forward forging ahead from wherever the work is at – a mindset that shares an essence with the poetic constraints of the work. Binding-wise I was in for a trial-and-error loop, but at least this time I kind of knew it. Such kindness to myself totally shared a vibe with Barbara’s forbearance: she never once asked me what was going on.
Forever forward moving, the initial scaffolding dimensional backdrop made its way to the foreground with the recourse of graffiti rubbings: reminiscences of the tactile response one gets from handling inky newspapers, the original substratum for the poems.
The back covers offer a contrast with this rough reality through the sensuality of leatherwork – alum goat hand-dyed to match Barbara’s color motif – bringing the harsh graffiti input to an immediate association with skins: layered experience, in tandem with the poems essence.
3 books were bound in this fashion, one of which is available for sale. The price (slipcase included) is $850. Inquiries, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
This final version luscious photographs are by Roni Mocan.