Starting the Poems, and Heading for Connecticut

The first of the four faces of the sculpture begins to take on its texts.

Well, the Endangered Poem Project is finally under way.
A few days ago I drove up to Cambridge, Vermont, where Ernest Krusch had picked out several pieces of curly soft maple and planed them down for me. This afternoon, knowing I’d be starting off with some poems that were taller than they were wide, I picked out the narrowest, laid it on the dining-room table and started the first task: simply getting the texts to line up with the board, and with each other.
Not such an easy task: each text has a different thickness, a different weight, different leading, different kerning–different everything. That’s sort of the point. After half an hour of shuffling pieces of paper around, measuring, using the square and a fair amount of eyeballing, I had what the chiropractors call an alignment. That’s what the photo shows. Top to bottom: Balinese, my personal favorite; Tai Dam, the most recent arrival, about which I know very little and need to do some serious research; Makassarese “bird script,” technically extinct but perhaps undergoing a small revival if only through this project; Syriac (about which Charles Haberl wrote “I used the East Syriac Adiabene script,
which is the ancestor of most East Syriac typefaces. The main reason why I chose this script is that it resembles the Assyrian script you used in the other exhibit, and I was able to festoon it with diacritics”); and, closest to the camera, the oddest of them all: Sui, a Chinese script that is apparently now used only for magical purposes and uses characters that are even written backwards to enhance their magical potency. I really, really want to know more about that one.
The image transfer is nearly finished, which is why I have a sharp pain between the shoulder-blades. I’m have the house to myself this weekend, so I should be well into the carving phase by the time I leave…
…for Central Connecticut State University, where I’m giving a talk on the Phase I exhibition of the Endangered Alphabets on Tuesday at 2 p.m. Click on the event calendar on the home page for more details.
And speaking of more details, I can’t resist adding a closeup of the Sui script, which is utterly amazing. One character (not included in the poem) looks very much like a dead dragon lying on its back. As I say, anyone who can direct me to more information on Sui, or indeed any of these scripts, head straight for the Comment box!

The text in Sui, transferred to the wood with the help of carbon paper.

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