Wednesday, 28 November 2012


A while ago I was looking at a poet's website and saw that her next book was a post-apocalyptic blank verse epic, with specially commissioned illustrations. Someone's written a book just for me! I thought to myself. And Marly Youmans has, it would seem, done just that: Thaliad is a marvellous work, an exciting and heartbreaking myth of origin for a society born of a clutch of children who survive a nuclear war. (Youmans' very name suggests a post-English-language attempt to write the name of our species.)
For this and all other images here, click for a much bigger version, showing all the textures and brushstrokes
The book, published by Phoenicia Publishing of Canada , is a really lovely work. The cover and the many internal illustrations are by Clive Hicks-Jenkins.

Clive's process for the internal illustrations is interesting: he makes a sketch of the proposed illustration, and then prepares a number of sheets of thin paper, decorated with various weights and textures of black brushstrokes. From these sheets he cuts various shapes, which are arranged into a collage to form the illustration. Some elements are stencilled in using shapes cut freehand into blank paper. See here for more details of his workings.

Here they are in situ, working with Youmans' text:

Hicks-Jenkins has also created the covers for three of Youmans's other books:

Thaliad comes out at the start of December.


Kelly Robinson said...

Lovely stuff.

Beth said...

Thanks so much for posting about Thaliad, James! It was a major collaborative and artistic effort, and we're delighted that all the elements worked together to make a book you enjoyed visually as well as intellectually. That's how it's supposed to be! Thank you.

Marly Youmans said...

So glad you wanted to see the book, and thank you for writing about it (and the pun!) I'm pleased that an epic poem can still find an enthusiastic reader in 2012.

Clive and Beth and I had great fun--serious fun!--collaborating on "Thaliad." I'm glad it shows. Thank you.

JRSM said...

My pleasure, Marly and Beth: it's a wonderful book, beautifully produced.

Clive Hicks-Jenkins said...

My thanks too, James. So pleased to read of your enthusiasm for this project. It was a pleasure to work on, but it's always good to hear when a work has reached out to others.

JRSM said...

Cheers, Clive: it's not hard to be enthusiastic about such a lovely work.