The High Embrace
Los Angeles: Dawson’s Book Shop, 1986.
First printing. (12) pp., 11 x 14 inches. 12 unbound leaves of Arches heavyweight paper, printed letterpress in Monotype Janson by Patrick Reagh, and five gelatin silver photographic prints mounted on archival rag boards, all housed in a buckram-covered folding box with printed cover and spine labels, in a clear acrylic slipcase. The text contains the title poem, a note on the poem by Everson, and a commentary on the photographs by Wiener. The five photographs have been printed by the photographer; each is signed and numbered on the mount, below the image. Published in an edition of one hundred numbered copies, signed on the colophon by the poet, photographer, and printer, ninety of which were for sale. Of the ten hors commerce copies reserved for the participants, this copy (number 4) is one of those belonging to Mel Smith, the dedicatee (“who brought together poet and photographer”) and patron of the edition. Laid in is a copy of the prospectus, a single sheet folded to make four pages and also printed by Patrick Reagh, with a reproduction of a photograph of Everson (presumably also by Wiener, but an image not included in the final production), and photocopies of a 1994 Everson obituary and a 2003 review of an Everson reader, both from the L. A. Times.
Aside from a few tiny spots of foxing in the frontmatter, the contents are in fine condition, in a very good box with very slight sunning to the cloth and light soiling to the spine label. The acrylic slipcases were provided by Mel Smith for his copies, and were not issued with the rest of the edition; this slipcase bears scattered scuffs and scratches, with a small piece missing from the top edge. Item #4673
In the words of the prospectus:
This publishing project brings together the art of a poet, a photographer and a printer. . . . William Everson’s poem is here issued separately for the first time . . . Everson compares the giant redwood trees on his Santa Cruz mountain property that meet in embrace high overhead to a Gothic cathedral . . . Leigh Wiener has made a specialty of photographing people . . . the five photographs chosen for this work show Everson at the Lime Kiln Press and in and around his home at Kingfisher Flat. The collaboration between the poet and photographer resulted in photographs that have pleased the poet. As Everson states it, “Most photographs must necessarily be content to mirror the poet in his extraneous acts. ‘The High Embrace’ offers graphic images illustrative of the living poem in the vision of the man who wrote it.”
A very scarce hors commerce copy of an uncommon and ambitious production.