Just East of West
A project with poet, father, postman, and good friend Bil Johnson. This book is meant to be part travel guide, part ode to the planet, part celebration of life.
From a collection of random scribblings, notebooks here and there, some napkins and stapled associations, we pulled together a strong body of words from this Midwestern poet in the most honest way we could think of; a self-published book with additional hand-done, screenprinted flare.
At its conclusion, it appeared to us to be about the Earth and its future. As much a concerning stare at man-made “progress” as hopeful nod to the beauty of what’s already out there, and what is next for all of us; love, discovery, rebirth, etc. When all was said and done, what fit in our hands was a catalog of life. We grew up on these great midwestern plains, now they lay open proudly awaiting the next troupe of angelic youth, troubadours in their own right, setting out for burning sky and bright new tomorrows.
If there’s a revelation to be made from reading the work, it’s that there is good and bad, decay and beauty in all of it. We suffer and celebrate in the gray. The idea of black and white, even right and wrong, is given far too much credence these days. The fact is both are constantly surrounding us, the gray area is where everything worthwhile lives, and you must hold the ups and the downs in your line of site as you move, steady as she goes, along your meandering path toward whatever greater truth you seek.
This book project was conceived in the winter of 2008 on a painfully cold day on the great plains over coffee and cabinet picks. It was meant to take some of the most honest poetry I had ever read and put it together in a form that was equally as honest. Honestly concerned about our future on Earth while celebrating the love and life that people around us are a part of every day. Wherever we are on this planet, here we are indeed. Under the energy of the sun, looking up at that black canvas sky, we the little peapods are just living, trying to do the best we can. What this is, what we are, is just a song, just a touch, just a kiss of our humanity in the immense vastness. With that, we wish you happy travels.
design notes: july 2009
what i see as the simplicity and the clarity of this poetry book reinforces the aspects of living within a system that isn’t all that complicated. from cover to pages to back cover, the turbulent spinning of life is there in image and tone. the constrained aspects of life in a bowl, on a tiny blue dot turning black before our eyes, offer hope for continued living. tales of the earth, love, life, planet, religion, friendship, nature, animals, all intertwine themselves, mingle, mix, dance, as the words suggest. we’re offered directions on “how to live” but upon contradiction, are left with baffled stares. the future, our sons and daughters, our culture and ideas, carry us into great unknowns, what pioneers saw as the frontier. in this case the son, and all his promise. the tiny tree in what used to be a forest, HERE. it is waiting for the son. interwoven with the part of life that interconnects, the sweet sound of poetry, the haiku, set to rhythmic syllables. what are we afraid of? not sure. nothing i guess, with such a gift of language to light our way, tell our story, advise our kids, direct ourselves, for life on this planet. is it all turning black? the sky soon to be left crisp once the fossils are emitted up into the sky blocking the heavens, blotting out the sun? the stars, trees, mountains, and waves, is all that is left, the markings of a child? sent to the future by the tomorrow? so many questions. so many thoughts. are we directionless? is there light guiding us? are we the shark in the fish bowl? too big, a relic of a bygone era, with no place else to go, hovering in the dark? or there may be a single tree, just east of west.
2009–2010: Book, Collaboration, Illustration