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The Real World of Manuel Córdova, W.S. Merwin 1995

This single, long poem by W. S. Merwin was inspired by events in the life of Manuel Córdova-Rios; extraordinary events that took place deep in the forest at the headwaters of the Amazon River in 1907.

Printed in hand set Samson Uncial on kakishibu, a persimmon-washed and smoked handmade paper from the Fuji Paper Mills Cooperative in Tokushima, Japan. The accordion-style book may be read in hand, stanza by stanza, or opened entirely to reveal all forty-three, fourteen-line stanzas. Fully extended, the book is fifteen feet long. The image of a river undulates alongside the poem while the setting of the poem itself mirrors the serpentine meanders of the river. The river is printed from photopolymer plates in five colors gradually intermingling one after another. The book’s enclosure is a heavy cream-colored raw flax sheet, handmade at the Center For the Book Papermaking Facility at the University of Iowa. The enclosure is lined with kakishibu on which is printed a map of the world, the first to show the world’s currents, drawn by Athanasius Kircher in 1665. The map is hand-tinted with pencil in five colors echoing the colors of the river. The enclosure is fastened with alum-tawed goat skin and bone. Both book and enclosure are housed in an acrylic slipcase.

There are 160 signed and numbered copies in the edition along with 18 lettered hors commerce. 3.5 inches by 13.25 inches.  Opens to 15 feet. 47 pages.

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