Text by William Stafford, image is woodcut on Zerkall Niddegen paper, 12 x 15 inches. The structure is a tunnel book. Date of Publication, 2007, printed and bound by Susan Lowdermilk as a limited edition of 25.
Text set in Gill Sans Condensed, printed from polymer plates and dusted with powdered pigment at lone goose press, Eugene, Oregon, “A Ritual to Read to Each Other” poem copyright © 1998 by the Estate of William Stafford. Reprinted from The Way It Is: New & Selected Poems with the permission of Greywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
A Ritual to Read to Each Other was created in reaction against the US/Iraq and Afghanistan war. The two-dimensional woodcut image that makes up the tunnel structure was originally titled, “Peace Inside the Noise” and was meant to stand on it own. As a tunnel book, I feel the piece visually and conceptually supports Stafford’s message in his poem, “A Ritual to Read to Each Other”—A plea for reliance on community and cooperation for peace and harmony.
A Ritual to Read to Each Other by William Stafford
If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.
For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.
And as elephants parade holding each elephant’s tail,
but if one wanders the circus won’t find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.
And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.
For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give—yes or no, or maybe—
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.