Last night I had the joy of listening to the poet Matthea Harvey at NYU’s Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House. Harvey read her work, Of Lamb, that contained 100 illustrations. Harvey read her poetry accompanied with a power point presentation of Amy Jean Porter’s illustrations. The words and images continued to amuse me throughout the reading turning form lighthearted humor to twisted self reflection. The written and visual componets occupied an uneasy ambiguity. Was this a children’s book for adults? Harvey said that she was comfortable creating for an audience of an indeterminent age.
The words are built from an erasure of Lord David Cecil’s A Portrait of Charles Lamb. Harvey used white out to transform the exsisting words into a narrative arch about Mary and her little lamb. Amy Jean Porter’s illustration prove equally implusive, with the large number of pages. The drawing reflect the words on the page, echoing Harvey’s whimiscal and disturbed narrative.
Amy Jean Porters illustrations were shown at the P.P.O.W. Gallery this summer. Harvey and Porter’s book Of Lamb is available from McSweeny’s.