By Tess Kenner
Kiki Smith and Arion Press have collaborated on an artist book that stretches out to over twenty feet. “I Love My Love,” a ballad by Helen Adam, with 16 prints of her own hair by Kiki Smith, will be released November 2009.
“I Love My Love,” which Adam wrote in 1958, is one of her most well known ballads. The story echoes the Medusa legend: a bridegroom is embraced, then entangled by his bride’s hair. Even after he kills her, her hair continues to grow and entangle him, punishing the bride-groom for rejecting the bonds of love.
Renowned American multi-media artist Kiki Smith uses images of her own hair to illustrate Adam’s words.
Scottish born Adam began her writing career at an early age. She completed “The Witch’s Daughter,” a forty-page ballad, by age ten. At fourteen, her first book of poetry was published. Her poems were received with praise from American audiences in 1925, and again in 1929. In 1954, Adam enrolled in Robert Duncan’s workshop at the Poetry Center at San Francisco State College. Soon she became a apart of Duncan’s literary circle, and the San Francisco Renaissance. To support herself, Adam worked as a file clerk and bicycle messenger. Unlike the other writers in her avant-gard milieu, Adam wrote mainly ballads, in the English and Scottish style, using rhyme and meter. Helen would quote Thoreau to herself: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”
Adam wrote twelve books of poetry and a collection of short stories. She created a film, a staged musical, and made hundreds of collages.
This is the second Arion Press collaboration with Kiki Smith. In 2007, she made over 200 prints for Sampler, a selection of 200 poems by Emily Dickinson, and a larger print that was sold with a portion of the edition.