the foliate head arrives

Copies of Marly Youmans’ The Foliate Head arrived from Stanza Poetry yesterday. Top marks to Andrew Wakelin for the design of the book, which looks beautiful.


The hardback cover is robust and reassuringly chunky in the hand, as though to protect the airy fragility of the pages within. (As Marly pointed out in an e-mail to me, there will be no danger of it curling if left off the bookshelf, the way paperbacks do these days.)

Above: original cover artwork, just back from the framers. I made six paintings from which to choose a cover for The Foliate Head, and we held a readers’ vote at the Artlog to choose the favourite. Another image favoured by the voters went onto the back cover. It was all most democratic, but I must say I think it was the right choice.

The page paper is rather thin, and although this means that ghostly images appear on the reverse sides of the illustrations, I quite like the oddly hallucinatory quality this imparts to the book, like foliate spirits are about to manifest through the lines of text.

The image of my father (see above) illustrating Marly’s beautiful poem Green Wednesday … in which I make a foliate mask in his likeness… has a faint presence on the reverse of his page (see below) elbowing his way into the following poem, Mirror tree, Tree Mirror.  In matters of bookmaking ‘craft’ this wouldn’t have happened had the publisher specified heavier paper, and yet I find the effects throughout the volume to be oddly compelling and attractive. It’s like seeing blue veins beneath perfect, pale skin.

When I flip the pages with my thumb, the text and the images shimmer as light hits and passes through them, a flickering display of the corporeal and shadowy. It’s a beautiful effect, though I fear Marly’s librarian mother would not approve the ‘flipping’.

I love the detail of the green head from the front cover just nudging onto the spine, together with a little flash of leaf from the back. It enlivens the spine when seen on a bookshelf, and it was Andrew’s idea. The artwork was made using collage technique for the branches.

Below: Marly’s dedication at the front of the book. I’m touched beyond words.

24 thoughts on “the foliate head arrives

  1. It is such a beautiful book in every way, I’m so enjoying it. I hadn’t clearly thought about that slight translucency of the paper, but now you mention it I realise that one of the experiences of reading it is an excited anticipation that there’s another image coming up in the following pages!

    • Marly and I work like twins. There’s a kind of siblings’ mental link thing going on between us. Sometimes I think she knows what’s going on before I even e-mail her. The process feels entirely natural. I’ve just finished Thaliad, her epic poem to be published by Phoenicia in Autumn, and I felt as though I was making images for something already in my head for a long time, even though I hadn’t read the work until just before I started working.

  2. Oh, you’ve added more pictures! So glad to see it in more detail…

    And thanks to everybody for the well-wishing! We hope that our tasty little limited edition will be gobbled up with great enjoyment.

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