SUNY Oswego over the course of thirty-one years I collaborated with two printmakers; the second, George O’Connell, died this past spring, and I celebrated his life with an entry on this blog.
The first printmaker with whom I worked, however, was Thom. Seawell who died on Friday, August 28th, just before midnight. He and I collaborated on three poem-prints, and on a book, The Inhabitant, which was built on his very large print, “The House.” It hangs in my living-room here in Dresden, Maine, and it is a fold-out in the original edition of The Inhabitant, Poems by Lewis Turco, Prints by Thom. Seawell, Northampton: Despa Press, 1970. It was published in two editions, cloth and paper, both long out-of-print, but all the poems are collected in Fearful Pleasures: The Complete Poems of Lewis Turco 1959-2007. Here are two images by Seawell from the book, the cover and "Detail from 'The House: Kitchen,"
Listen to Lewis Turco read his poem "The Kitchen."
In the kitchen the dishwasher is eating the dishes. The Inhabitant listens
to the current of digestion — porcelain being ground, silver wearing
thin, the hum and bite of the machine.
His wife does not hear it — she is humming, not listening. But the
Inhabitant is aware of movement in the cupboards, of the veriest
motion — the cast-iron skillet undergoing metamorphosis, perhaps,
becoming its name: the wives' spider spinning beneath the counter,
weaving and managing, waiting for the doors to open.
Each cup has its voice, each saucer its ear, and the thin chant planes
between the shelves, touching the timbres of glass and crystal as it
passes. The gentleman listens, is touched to the bone by this
plainsong — he feels his response in the marrow's keening.
But the women do not — neither the elder nor the child — sense the music
their things make. Their lips move, a column of air rises like steam,
and there is something in a minor key sliding along the wall,
touching the face of a plastic clock, disturbing the linen calendar
beside the condiments.
It is as though, the Inhabitant reflects, the women are spinning. It is as
though, while he waits, they weave bindings among the rooms; as
though the strands of tune were elements of a sisterhood of dishes,
the ladies, the spider in the cabinet, even of the dishwasher, done
now with its grinding, which contributes a new sound — a continuo
of satiety — to the gray motet the kitchen is singing.
-- Lewis Turco