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Friday, February 15, 2013


Ed Baker is a "Poet. Artist. Neolithics. Olde Bonze." -- to wit, click on that link to see images and information of an active, restless artist mind.  One of his major achievements is "Stone Girl" and we are fortunate that Leafe Press has published Stone Girl E-Pic, about which another poet, Conrad DiDiodato, says:
"...a remarkable visual and minimalist poem, in which Baker's drawings are integrated with, and indeed, form part of, the poem itself. Baker is 'in that stream of & flows with' the Objectivist and the Black Mountain poets, and is part of a circle of poets that includes Cid Corman and Theodore Enslin.

" is work that manages to retain all the elements and yet make contemporary Vispo look very empty, leaving the reader to look for the essentials of a more tradition-based visual poetry: a minimalism that matters and the most purely 'concrete' art that ever illustrated text. Writing that cuts to the bone, iconoclastic and original, and a 'Stone Girl' art sprung out of the lines themselves. Writing and art on Baker's terms."   ["Vispo" is short for "visual poetry"]

This is all to say that SitWithMoi is delighted and honored to receive a mini-book that Ed Baker titles The First Stone Girl and dates as 2005/2013.  It is cleverly designed, consisting of a 12-inch strip of paper folded six times to create a 2" x 2" accordion-style book ... with the French Flaps that I love!

Here's what it looks when it's pulled out:

It's a work that is very clear.  It speaks well on its own behalf.  So I'm going to post the images page by page below, with the captions being the text accompanying its image (I particularly like the second image below where a checkmark becomes a "returning gull"):

just like this Walking Mind

sudden breeze // returning gull

giving up all of this she is

some rock thinking Kiss-Kiss!

no words necessary

And so the book would seem to end with this sign-off by Ed:

But our prolific Ed can't seem to help himself.  He has to go on!  To continue -- on the back of the book!

Here are those "post script" images:

Stone Girl pointing it out --again

in her eyes  yes!  yes!  yes!

same landscape cutting through

just her in this too-busy mind

making no-sense make sense --to me

The inability to leave a page blank.  Especially when the matter at hand is "Stone Girl" which has consumed Ed's attention for years. The inability to leave a page blank is entirely appropriate here -- I might not trust the obsession otherwise.

At times, art surfaces best when they compel their surfacings.  They are the result of compulsion -- a helplessness against what is making itself manifested, e.g. "just her in this too-busy mind." You see it in Ed Baker's work.  In this mini-book, I mostly see it in his inability to leave the back pages blank.  Ed Baker's art, therefore, arises from a source one can trust because the source is so powerful the artist was helpless against its impetus. The Dude can draw -- his line is impeccable.  But that wouldn't matter as much if the compulsion wasn't there, pushing his hand.

It's also worth linking to this article first published by ARTNews in 1952 by Him-Who-Concocted-The-Phrase-"Action-Painting":

Which is to say, Ed's art-making is also process-driven (my term, but perhaps not his) in that the making of his art is concurrent with the searching for whatever he is searching for.  In textual terms (as he's a poet, too), it just means that he'll have figured out what he wanted to say after he reads the poem he will have just written.  (This approach is the opposite, of course, of a poet/artist having an epiphany and then trying to write a poem manifesting it... versus having the making be part of the epiphany-making.  That's clear, right? she winks at y'all...) Perhaps you can glean what I'm trying to say in this other example of Ed's art:

That's not the kind of work that is pre-planned, or pre-ordained before its actualization.  Here's a photo below of the artist in his studio, and one might say the same thing of the large painting on the right:

There's much info on Ed Baker in the internet; Google him for some fantabulous information -- this LINK TO IMAGES alone is interesting!

So, where shall we shelve this Stone Girl?  Well, why not on Mary Scheller's chaise lounge!  (You might see next to the chair a crate sidetable featuring another publication, 5 SKETCHES, something Moi edited for Ed and which will be the subject of a future post).  Thanks, Ed, for this:

[As with all images on this blog, you can click on them to enlarge.]


  1. I was discussing the post with Ed and I apologized for the images' poor quality (I'm a lousy photographer). Ed replied that he doesn't actually mind because the slight out-of-focus ness "adds another dimension to what-ever 'meanings' any viewer gets." But then he said something I find wonderful as he explained why he can live with the effects of my poor photography skills:

    "...the Japanese have a name for this but i don't recall it…. something about accidental drops of sum-e ink on the page/sheet adds to the "value" of a ' thing'… I think that Soetsu Yanagi calls it the 'ugly' or 'the beauty of the Irregular' or some such."

    How true! In my own viewing experience, I personally find those accidental ink drops to be enervating to the image...

    Anyway, Ed notes that Yanagi's book, for those who wish to follow up, is _The Unknown Crafstman_

    Living and Learning,

  2. Slight typo in above. Should be "sumi-e" ink (not sum-e). But this only reminds to post a link to a wonderful collaboration of Ed Baker's poems with Sumi-e by Fay Chin at:


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  4. Eileen, what a wonderful past time to make beautiful little mini books and then share them page by page on your Moi blog. Luuuhhhhv it. In this day and age when electronic books and blogs are becoming more and more popular, it's nice of you to make, hold, read and share, here online, your hand made, hand held mini books

  5. Thanks Perla. Yes, nothing can replace the tactility of objects. I do think the internet is great for helping to share information about one-of-a-kind items, like these mini-books. I like the combo.
    cheers, Eileen